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Chargers vs. Texans Week 4 Game Preview: When a stoppable force meets a movable object

If this isn’t the week to get the ground game started, than I’m not sure what is.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It’s another revenge week for the Chargers (1-2) who head to Houston this week to play the Texans (0-2-1). Last season, one of the worst performance of the 2021 came against this team where the Chargers got man-handled on the ground by a rushing attack spearheaded by none other than Rex Burkhead.

This time around, the Chargers should have their heads on straight. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi admitted earlier this week that he was too conservative early on against the Jaguars due in part to protect Justin Herbert but he noted that won’t be the case going forward.

Will that change in philosophy be enough to get this Chargers offense on the right track? Only time will tell.

A big shoutout to Scott Barzilla from our Texans sister site, Battle Red Blog, for helping us preview this game!

Make sure you check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season. Let’s get into it!

1.) The Texans are allowing a league-worst 202.3 rushing yards per game while the Chargers are rushing for a league-low 59 yards per game. Which unit do you see finally breaking out of their enormous rut? Will the Texans defense come correct or will the Chargers offense finally find a groove on the ground?

I foresee the Chargers running it more successfully on Sunday. The Texans are weak inside and their linebacking core might be one of the worst in the NFL. Conversely, I would think a good running game might be the best thing for Justin Herbert and their defense considering how banged up the Chargers are coming into the game. The Bears backup running back gained more yards than any back in the NFL last week, so it is not a question of personnel. The Texans just might be that bad.

2.) How does the fan base currently feeling about Davis Mills? Has he done enough to warrant being the starter for the entire 2022 season? Or will the Texans end up drafting a quarterback in next year’s draft?

I’d say coming into the season it was about 50/50. I think that has changed within the last few weeks. I think most of the fanbase now is on board with the Texans drafting a quarterback with their top pick. There are still going to be some holdouts (they are called the Mills Mafia) that will ride or die with Mills. Personally, I already see the Texans on the clock and have started tracking guys like Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud to see who we might possibly prefer in the draft next season. Mills is currently trending below average. He might be better with better personnel around him, but he compares favorably to someone like Andy Dalton or maybe as good as Kirk Cousins. Neither of those guys are leading any team to a Super Bowl. I think he will be a very good backup in the league which ultimately makes him a successful third round pick, but that can’t be the bar on the most important position in football.

3.) If you were Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, how would you go about scheming against this Texans defense? What are some matchups/players you’d attempt to exploit on Sunday?

If I were Lombardi I would lean pretty heavy on the running game. Opposing lineman are able to get to the second level pretty easily against this defense. Our starting safety Jonathan Owens leads the team in tackles and is second in the NFL. That’s great for Owens, but horrible if you want to be a good defense. I think that does two things for you. First, it takes pressure off of Justin Herbert and he needs as many easy games as he can get until his ribs heal. Secondly, it keeps our offense off the field and makes us one-dimensional. The strength of the Texans is actually their running game, but we haven’t used it nearly enough in the first three games. Getting ahead and keeping possession of the ball will create more urgency for the Texans and a reliance on the passing game. That’s what you want if you are a Chargers fan.

4.) Same as above but switching sides of the ball. If you were defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill, how would you go about defending this Texans offense? Which players would you keep tabs on the most? Are there any matchups you’d attempt to exploit?

Dameon Pierce is questionable for Sunday, but if he plays he is the most consistent offensive threat the Texans have. He is averaging well over four yards a carry which for this team is a revelation over the past three years. Brandin Cooks is Mills’ favorite target and consistently gets 70-80 catches for over 1000 yards. Beyond that, there isn’t much that will threaten any defense. So, if you neutralize those two you make it a very long day for this football team. Mills is typically careful with the football, but he is not particularly mobile or elusive, so he can be pressured easily. Our line has actually been pretty effective at basic protections, so you might dial up some exotic blitzes every now and then just to see if you can creatively apply pressure when needed.

5.) The Chargers are currently 5.5-point favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook with the over/under set at 44. Go ahead and give us a short summary of how you see this game shaking out, a final score prediction, and whether or not you’re taking the over or under for this game.

The Texans have played three one-score games and with the injuries the Chargers have going in make me think this game is going to be close. The Texans have not scored more than 20 points in a game and I just don’t see it happening here. If Dameon Pierce is out I just don’t see how they run the ball. So, I’d feel better about the under than any other bet there. I see the Chargers winning the game, but it will be close. I’ll go 20-17 just for fun, but the Texans have made these games closer than what they probably should be. Each of the three teams we have faced have probably played their worst game of the season against us. Eventually, you have to trust that this is by design and not random luck. We just haven’t been nearly good enough to take full advantage of that yet and I don’t see that changing on Sunday.