The Houston Texans visit the Los Angeles Rams in Week 10 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
PFFELO Ranking: 27
Coverage by: Aaron Resnick
Matchup: Houston Texans offense vs. Los Angeles Rams defense
- RB Lamar Miller vs. DI Aaron Donald – Despite seeing just 13 total touches in Week 9, Miller was very effective racking up 91 total yards. Against a Rams team that can put up points, it wouldn’t be surprising if Miller was more involved this week. With an overall grade of 78.5, Miller ranks 19th among all backs but he has only forced ten missed tackles on the season. Things won’t get any easier against Donald, whose overall grade of 96.1 is the highest regardless of position in the league. Against the run, Donald’s grade of 87.9 ranks seventh among interior defenders and he has just one missed tackle in run defense on the year. If Miller and the Texan ground game is to get going, he’ll have to either find ways to elude Donald or avoid him completely.
- WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. CB Kayvon Webster – If any Texan pass catcher has an established role with Tom Savage at the helm it is Hopkins, who was peppered with 16 targets this past Sunday. Despite an inefficient day, Hopkins’ overall grade of 85.5 and his 2.26 yards per route run still rank fifth among wide receivers. Primarily running routes on the left side, Hopkins will primarily be covered by Webster, whose overall grade of 81.0 would be a career best. For the year Webster’s 0.74 yards allowed per coverage snap ranks 13th among corners, while his 15.5 coverage snaps per reception allowed ranks 15th.
- TE Stephen Anderson vs. LB Mark Barron – After just 16 targets through his first six games played, Anderson saw six targets in his 39 snaps this past Sunday. Anderson caught four of those targets, and his receiving grade of 73.8 currently ranks 14th among tight ends. When he does run a route, Anderson figures to see plenty of Barron. Barron’s current grade of 81.0 would be a career best, but his coverage grade of 84.8 that ranks eighth among linebackers is where he makes a difference. In coverage, Barron has been targeted the second most times among all linebackers with 45 targets, his passer rating when targeted of 71.3 ranks fifth best at the position. If Savage is going to check the ball down he may look Anderson’s way, but with Barron in coverage he should proceed with caution.
Coverage by: Mike Cahill
- WR Cooper Kupp vs. CB Kareem Jackson – Cooper Kupp has seen 25 of his 46 targets come from the slot, with 129 of his 205 overall routes being run from the slot as well. He’s averaging the ninth-most yards gained per route run from the slot with 1.84 and possesses an overall receiving grade of 77.8. His counterpart in cornerback Kareem Jackson has averaged 2.02 yards allowed per coverage snap on 155 coverage snaps lined up in the slot, seventh most among 53 eligible players. Kupp has yet to gain more than 53 yards from the slot in any game, while Jackson has allowed more than that twice in 2017, with Week 8 seeing him give up over 100 yards while in slot coverage.
- QB Jared Goff vs. Houston Pass Rush – Jared Goff’s performances under pressure have varied through eight games this year. In the four games where his passer rating while under pressure has been above 92.0, his team has produced 40-plus points three times and has only lost once (in Week 2). The Texans are averaging a pressure rate of 35.2 percent, slightly above league average, and Goff is being pressured on 33.8 percent of drop backs, 12th lowest in the league. Strangely enough, the Rams have the exact same record (3-1) when Goff produces a passer rating under pressure below 92.0.
- RB Todd Gurley vs. Houston Run Defense – The Rams’ points per game when running back Todd Gurley is able to force two or more missed tackles in the running game sits at 37.7 points. Compare that total to the 18.5 points per game they average in the two games he had only one forced missed tackle. His matchup against the Texans run defense is a great opportunity to put this tendency to the test, as they are currently missing tackles at the league’s seventh highest rate, with a missed tackle on 14.4 percent of their tackle attempts and they have the 12th most missed tackles combined with 60. Getting the ball in Gurley’s hands is very important, as he has been responsible for a first down or a touchdown on 23.8 percent of his run attempts or passing targets, the 11th highest percentage in the league among running backs with at least 150 snaps this season and well above the 19.2 percent league average among the position.