The Texans (1-3-1) head west for a Week 7 matchup with the Raiders (1-4). It's the first meeting between the two clubs since 2019, when Houston triumphed at home that October 27. Here are five things to watch when the Texans and Raiders kick off inside Allegiant Stadium at 3 p.m. CT.
1) New looks?
Both teams were off last weekend and didn't play games. Houston used the early part of the break to self-scout and evaluate what's worked well, and what could improve. Offensively, there will likely be slight changes, but nothing too dramatic. However, there might be some alterations to the tempo and pacing of the offense. There may be a bit more, or less, hurry-up offense implemented by Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton.
"We like to mix tempos," Hamilton said. "We like to mix personnel groupings. We like to ultimately do whatever we feel will give us a chance to mitigate some of the looks we'll see from the defense."
Whether the Texans are huddling or not, Quarterback Davis Mills emphasized the need to play fast, and also improve in a few key areas.
"We're trying to be better on third downs and down in the red zone," Mills said. "We got an extra day of practice last week and earlier this week with how we moved the off day during the week, just allows us more time to work on the situational football, so we can go out and execute and play fast."
2) Hammer down
Rookie RB Dameon Pierce is eighth in the NFL with 412 rushing yards. He's averaging 4.8 yards per carry, 82.4 yards per game, and has been a bright spot for the franchise in the early going of 2022. Pierce's start has been so impressive, he's got Las Vegas Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham gushing.
"What don't I like?," Graham joked. "I mean, I don't like that we've got to play him. But I appreciate good football players and good football. This dude is dynamic. He runs violently. He's a hard tackle. It's almost like he says 'Leave one guy in the hole, I'll take care of him, and y'all block the other guys.' He's really impressive."
Pierce said he spent his week off resting and taking it easy, and explained what he wants to do over the course of the final dozen games in 2022.
"Just build on it," Pierce said. "You can't take anything for granted. You've got to put 100 percent work in, you've got to put 100 percent effort in. With that comes great responsibility. Don't get complacent."
3) Possible homecoming
There's a chance Tight End Brevin Jordan will be active for the first time since Week 2. He limped off the field in Denver with an ankle injury, but has healed up and looks like he'll be ready to go. A Las Vegas native, this would be Jordan's first time playing in his hometown since his high school days at Bishop Gorman.
Adding another weapon like Jordan to the tight end corps gives the Texans a lot of flexibility on offense.
Head Coach Lovie Smith thinks Houston is "a better football team with Brevin on the field", and would be glad to add the second-year tight end to the mix against the Raiders. Jordan, meanwhile, wants to play as well, and is excited about the possibility of playing in a 3-tight end/1 running back/1 wide receiver set (13 personnel) on offense.
"I'm ready to get back," Jordan said. "The room is very different now obviously, but I'm ready to get out there and make plays with my guys. That 13 personnel could be very dangerous and I'm just ready to get out there and make plays."
4) Stop Josh
As impressive as Pierce has been for Houston, the Raiders have seen their running back Josh Jacobs go for 5.4 yards per carry and 490 yards in 2022. The Texans defense is allowing opponents to averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Only three other teams in the NFL are allowing more.
Every opponent this season, save for the Chargers in Week 4, has gained at least 136 yards or more as a team in the ground game. Houston, according to Defensive Lineman Jerry Hughes, will get tested again going against Jacobs and company in Las Vegas.
"They do a great job of getting Josh Jacobs going," Hughes said. "He's one of the top backs in this league. We know with that offensive line leaning heavy on that run, we're going to have to bring our hard hats out this week, because we know it's going to be a running type of game."
5) Pass Rush Plus
The Texans want to get after Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr as well. He's been sacked 11 times so far, at least once in every contest this season. Houston, meanwhile, has 11 sacks as a team in 2022.
The 9-year veteran remains impressive, in the opinion of Smith.
"Derek Carr can make all throws," Smith said. "He's athletic. I remember when he came out of college, meeting with him, really like what he's done in the league. It starts with the quarterback."
Carr's completed 61.4 percent of his passes in 2022, with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.