Each season, we preview the games by looking at three reasons the Chargers will win and lose each week. Here is why they will lose.
J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus
It has been a little while since Watt was unseated as the National Football League’s best player, but he is definitely still among The League’s elite, and it is certainly no fluke that the 29-year-old Mercilus already has 3 sacks. The former 1st-round pick is playing in his natural position of outside linebacker, and he is thriving. There is no reason to think that Mercilus, coming off winning AFC Defensive Player of the Week, will be slowed down much if at all by the Chargers’ sorry collection of offensive tackles. Trent Scott and Sam Tevi are both still glorified turnstiles and they are going to be in for a seriously tough test on Sunday.
It all starts with DeAndre Hopkins. The veteran receiver is arguably the finest wide receiver in the NFL with only the Falcons’ Julio Jones providing any actual competition for that title at the moment. The Chargers’ Casey Hayward might be able to contain him for at least a little while, but the rest of the secondary is not what you would call “good,” and the Texans still have Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and Keke Coutee to roll out there along with him, and that is without even talking about what they could potentially do with Duke Johnson in the passing game.
All of that receiving talent aside, the Texans have really excelled rushing the ball through two games. They’re 3rd in Football Outsiders’ rushing VOA which is especially impressive given that it does not adjust for quality of opposition and the Jaguars’ rushing defense is stout (certainly, compared to the Chargers’ run D). This is largely thanks to the (apparently) immortal Carlos Hyde who currently ranks 4th in Yards Above Replacement and 5th in Value Over Average. The Chargers have shown little sign of being able to rein in even poor rushing attacks, so when you look at what’s rolling into town this weekend, you can’t help but feel at least a little anxious about how they’re going to handle that.