In the lone preseason game on Sunday, the Houston Texans travel to California for a meeting with the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers successfully went to one of the best teams in the NFL, to one of the biggest disasters in record time. By all accounts, Jim Harbaugh’s exit as head coach of the 49ers signaled the end of a brief stay at the top. The 49ers got as far to push the Baltimore Ravens to the brink at Super Bowl XLVII, but Colin Kaepernick failed in the red zone on the final drive of the game.
Fast forward to now, and Kaepernick has looked like the worst starting quarterback in the league, and the 49ers are in the same company as the basement dwellers of the NFL. Harbaugh dipped for the University of Michigan and all hell has broken loose. The ‘Niners have already gone through two head coaches since Harbaugh left.
Chip Kelly, former head coach of the Oregon Ducks and Philadelphia Eagles, will assume the head coaching duties for the 49ers in 2016. Kelly hopes to bring Kaepernick back to glory, after it was looking like he might be on the way out in San Francisco. There’s no doubt it appeared like Kaepernick did not want to be there anymore. Kelly is hoping that both can have some success in 2016 to save their careers.
This will be Kelly’s last chance at coaching in the NFL. If he fails to garner success with the 49ers, you’ll see him looking back to college football, where he was an offensive genius at Oregon. In his time with the Eagles, the genius seemed to be sucked away. I will say one thing, Sam Bradford was an awful fit for the Chip Kelly offense, but is Chip Kelly just an awful fit for the NFL?
Kaepernick fits the mold of the type of quarterback Kelly stole the show with at Oregon. A duel-threat option that can make it happen through the air or ground. However, let’s be honest for a second, Kaepernick does not have the same wheels he did back when the 49ers were playing elite football. There are things to watch out for in Houston as well.
The Texans handed over the keys to the car to former Bronco, Brock Osweiler, after he decided to skip out on the Broncos and start fresh with the Texans. Osweiler is expected to be an instant performer, for a team that has struggled dearly finding the right fit at quarterback. Let’s head to California to see what the preseason has in store for us on Sunday.
Houston Texans vs. San Francisco Preseason Betting Odds:
vs. 49ers -3(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Texans vs. 49ers Pick:
There is a reason the NFL singled out this game for Sunday. There are going to be a lot of curious eyes fixated on Brock Osweiler and Colin Kaepernick. There will be some interest on how the Chip Kelly offense is going to look in San Francisco as well. If you recall, the Eagles’ offense looked pretty good in the preseason, but deteriorated in the regular season. It doesn’t mean anything if you look good in the preseason and fail in the regular season. It was certainly deceptive to the fans in Philadelphia.
In his first preseason game with the Eagles, they scored 28 points but lost 34-28. Next game the Eagles scored 35 points and still lost 42-35. They followed the next two games up with wins, 31-21 and 37-7. The first three weeks of last season, Philadelphia won 36-10, 40-17, and 39-26. Between both seasons, they averaged 30 points per game in the preseason.
There is only one gear in a Chip Kelly offense and it’s go fast and get in as many plays as possible. It seemed to work against teams that didn’t care so much about playing preseason football, but in the regular season it was all nullified. Following Kaepernick in the rotation will be Blaine Gabbert, who has actually looked competent in San Francisco when he’s gotten the chance to go. Gabbert could steal the job from Kaepernick with a strong showing in the preseason. We might even see Gabbert starting this contest.
Gabbert started eight games a year ago and looked adequate, passing for 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also had a solid completion rate of 63.1%. I expect Gabbert and Kaepernick to try and play well, instead of going through the motions on Sunday. Thaddeus Lewis who has some experience in the NFL will follow Gabbert and Kaepernick.
Osweiler should be looking to impress right out of the gate for the Texans. When Peyton Manning got injured last season, Osweiler looked cool and calm, keeping the team together and putting together some impressive starts. Osweiler appeared in ten games last season for the Broncos, accumulating 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 61.8% of successful passes.
Backing up Osweiler is Tom Savage, the ex-Pitt product, had to sit on the sidelines for the duration of the year because of a sprained shoulder. Savage was eager to be a starter, but that was before Houston signed Osweiler. Head coach Bill O’Brien said he’s noted a lot of improvement in his game at training camp. Bradon Weeden will get mop up duty as the 3rd stringer. Say what you want about Weeden, but he should be able to move the chains against a bunch of 3rd and 4th stringers. The total in this game is set too low in my opinion. There will be plenty of opportunities for touchdowns in this game. Something like a 24-20 final looks realistic, which would give us a win on the OVER 37.
PICK: OVER 37 POINTS (-110)