Yeah, it's ugly in Houston. Everyone knew Davis Mills wasn't going to be ready to be a starter going into the year, but a Tyrod Taylor injury forced the Texans hands. Mills ranks 35th in PFF grades (56.3), although in fairness that's right in the ballpark of every other rookie quarterback not named Mac Jones. Mills is completing 63.3% of his passes, which matches expectation. He's averaging 6.6 yards per attempt and has thrown more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (5), which is about what we'd expect considering his 4:8 big time throw to turnover worthy play ratio. Their best offensive lineman has been Marcus Cannon, who is now on IR with a back injury, leaving a slew of revolving doors to protect Mills. Brandin Cooks has been the one solid receiving option -- he comes into this one 6th in the NFL in targets, 4th in receptions, 12th in yards, and 19th in PFF receiving grades. Rookie Nico Collins will start on the outside, with journeyman Chris Moore working the slot. Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay, and David Johnson will split carries, with Johnson working as the primary receiving back. The Texans are 31st in offensive DVOA and EPA/play. On the defensive side, Maliek Collins is 9th in the NFL in ESPN's pass rush win rate among all tackles, but only has 12 pressures. Charles Omenihu was generating pressure from the outside in his first four games, but has been mysteriously inactive the last two. They have some notable names in the secondary -- Terrance Mitchell, Vernon Hargreaves III, and Desmond King, but have had issues with injuries and have toyed around with a several different options in terms of who is playing where. None of it has worked, and the secondary has performed poorly across the board. Houston is 20th in defensive DVOA and 25th in EPA/play.
The Cardinals are telling a different story this season -- I'm not sure if you noticed the fucking 18.5-point spread. They're 6-0 this season, and are the second best team in the NFL in DVOA (behind Buffalo) and 6th in our power rankings, aka the universal source of truth for ranking NFL teams. Kyler Murray is 4th in the NFL in PFF passing grades, completing 69.3% of his passes, which is an absurd 8.6% above expectation. He's averaging 8.9 yards per attempt while keeping the ball out of harms way, evident by his 1.7% turnover worthy play percentage. Interestingly enough, he hasn't been nearly as efficient as a runner as you may think -- his 3.1 yards per attempt is just 0.3 better than Tom freakin Brady, and he has a PFF rushing grade of 44.9 with 6 fumbles, which is second most among all QBs (Dak has 7). His top receivers by projected targets: DeAndre Hopkins, old man/washed AJ Green, Christian Kirk, RB Chase Edmonds, and rookie WR Rondale Moore. Hopkins isn't quite the target hog he was last year, ranking just 43rd in the NFL, but is still having an impressive season. Kirk has been a solid #2, working primarily out of the slot, though he's running less routes than Green for reasons that I couldn't even begin to explain. The offensive line has been impressive, though they lost C Rodney Hudson (ribs/shoulder) week 5, and have had issues at RG/RT. They're 7th in offensive DVOA and 3rd in EPA/play. On defense, the pass rushing trio of JJ Watt, Chandler Jones, and Markus Golden has put the Cardinals 3rd as a team in PFF pass rushing grades, but they'll be without Jones for this one (reserve/COVID-19). Rookie Zaven Collins has also impressed at linebacker, despite his issues with missing tackles, he's playing well against the run, in coverage, and rushing the passer. They have some holes in the secondary, though Robert Alford and Byron Murphy have both been serviceable, and Budda Baker is an impressive, do-it-all safety. The defense is second in DVOA and EPA/play, though I'd be surprised if they finish the year that high.
None of us have any idea how to evaluate 18.5 point spreads. That's why we have a model do it, who is taking the Texans despite their 32nd power ranking spot and their pitiful, injury-adjusted -30.3% DAVE. In the model we trust.