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Position breakdown for Sunday’s Raiders-Texans game

Updated October 26, 2019 - 5:02 pm

Quarterbacks

Derek Carr is on pace for a historic season in completion percentage, leading the league at 74 percent. That has helped the Raiders to a 50 percent conversion rate on third down, second in the NFL. Carr is sixth in passer rating at 102.0 and the Raiders are sixth in yards per play at 6.03. He’s still not as dynamic at the position as Deshaun Watson.

■ Advantage: Texans

Running backs

Carlos Hyde has been steady, but far from spectacular. He’s doing just enough to keep his job as the lead back on a roster with little early-down competition. Josh Jacobs has emerged as a star as he approaches the midpoint of his rookie year. He’s dealing with an injury and only got in one limited practice session this week. Jacobs will be a game-time decision, but has been pretty adamant about playing. As long as he goes, it’s a big edge for Oakland.

■ Advantage: Raiders

Receivers

The Raiders might finally get Tyrell Williams back this week, which would be a huge boost for a passing game looking for anyone to emerge as a complement to star tight end Darren Waller. He’s done just fine despite the increased defensive attention, but Williams has scored a touchdown in all four games he played this season. The Texans will be without Will Fuller, but DeAndre Hopkins is truly elite.

■ Advantage: Texans

Offensive line

The projected starting offensive line of the Raiders will take the field for the first time as a complete unit Sunday. All of the mixing and matching hasn’t hurt much as the unit still grades out as one of the best in all of football to this point in the season. The Raiders have allowed eight sacks in six games and have run the ball at a high level. It’s interesting to see how much better they can be now. Houston is very good at run blocking, but Watson’s legs and creativity cover for some shaky pass protection.

■ Advantage: Raiders

Defensive line

J.J. Watt rightfully gets all the headlines. He’s great. D.J. Reader isn’t as well known, though he’s a vital piece on the interior of the line as he has taken a big step forward this season. The Raiders continue to search for answers despite Maxx Crosby’s continued improvement.

■ Advantage: Texans

Linebackers

Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow continue to do a serviceable job filling in for the suspended Vontze Burfict, but the Raiders lack a true playmaker. The Texans will have the best linebacker on the field in Benardrick McKinney. While Whitney Mercilus isn’t the player he once was, he’s still a factor for the Texans defense.

■ Advantage: Texans

Secondary

Want to know why the Texans made a move to trade for Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley this week? Look no further than the inconsistent play of rookie Lonnie Johnson Jr. Conley hasn’t lived up to expectations after he was selected in the first round and he certainly hasn’t been a physical presence, but he’s an upgrade for certain. His departure thrusts rookie Trayvon Mullen into a starting role for the Raiders after he played just one snap last week. Expect him to be targeted early and often.

■ Advantage: Texans

Special teams

Both teams are near the bottom of the league in punting average. While Ka’imi Fairbairn has more points than Daniel Carlson, Fairbairn has been far less reliable this season. He’s missed four extra points and three of his 12 field goal attempts. Carlson is 16 for 16 on extra points and 5 of 6 on field goals. The Raiders coverage units have taken a step forward.

■ Advantage: Raiders

Intangibles

The Raiders are excited to finally get a home game next week after perhaps the most treacherous road trip in franchise history. They know they must get through one more road game against a good team in a tough environment first. The Raiders in games they have fallen behind against dynamic offenses. This is another one of those games.

■ Advantage: Texans

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