Texans vs. Chargers prediction: Houston’s offense will falter

The Texans go into Sunday’s game against the Chargers having scored only 14.8 points per game this season. They’re dead last in the NFL in yards per play with 4.5, have no semblance of a running game and now have to go into Week 16 without their best offensive player by a wide margin. 

That player is Brandin Cooks and he is on the COVID-19 list. Cooks has accounted for 119 targets and 80 catches this season. The next closest in targets is Nico Collins with 44 and running back David Johnson in receptions with 29. Johnson has one catch over the past three games. 

The Chargers have struggled defensively this season, but mostly have been victimized by the run. Houston may have to force-feed the run now with Cooks out, but for a team averaging 3.2 yards per carry, that doesn’t seem to be an optimal way to operate on offense either. 

Houston’s team total is 17.5 because we have a 10.5-point spread and a total of 45, but the Texans have scored more than 17 points six times in 14 games with Cooks. Now they won’t have him, and two of those games came against the Jaguars. The Texans have 29 red zone trips and only 14 touchdowns. Kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn is on the COVID list as well. 

The play: Texans team total Under 17.5 (-145).