KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Houston’s Brock Osweiler has been so bad on the road this season that a fan started a Go Fund Me page in a comical attempt to raise money to buy out his $72 million contract.READ MORE: Science of Weather: Sea Life Michigan Turtles
Criticism of Osweiler and his huge deal have increased with each Houston loss, and his latest lackluster performance in Monday’s defeat at Denver spawned countless memes mocking the quarterback.
The good news for Osweiler and the Texans is that they return to Houston this week where they’ll look to improve to 5-0 at home when they host the Detroit Lions .
Osweiler hasn’t been great in Houston’s four home wins, but he has been much better than on the road, with seven of his eight touchdown passes coming in those victories.
Osweiler has struggled to get Houston’s passing game going and the Texans rank 30th in the league with 204.3 yards passing a game despite having big-play receivers DeAndre Hopkins and rookie Will Fuller.
Osweiler knows he needs to play better and eliminate mistakes, but also noted that a win on Sunday would leave the team in a pretty good spot at the midway point of the season.
“If we can put ourselves 5-3, 2-0 in the division, first place in the division going into the bye week, everything else is irrelevant,” he said.
Though Osweiler has taken much of the blame for Houston’s offensive struggles this season, Hopkins was quick to point out that everyone on the offense needs to improve to turn things around.
“Anytime we lose a game, you can’t point the fingers at the guy that everybody wants to point the finger at because it’s not just him,” Hopkins said. “There’s 10 other guys on the field that need to help him out, including myself.”
They’ll try to get back on track against a Detroit team that has won three in a row behind the late-game heroics of quarterback Matthew Stafford to improve to 4-3. Stafford is fourth in the NFL with 15 touchdowns and has thrown just four interceptions.
Stafford deflected credit for the fourth-quarter comebacks to his teammates.
“More than anything, it says a lot about the guys around me and the team I have,” he said. “I’ve been really privileged to play with a lot of really good players. In those situations, you just try to put the ball in position for those guys to go make plays, and I’ve had guys around me that have made plays.”READ MORE: Motown Museum Set To Reopen This Weekend With Expansion Project Near Completion
Some things to know about the Detroit-Houston game.
MILLER’S HEALTH: Houston running back Lamar Miller has been limited in practice this week after taking a shot to his shoulder in the first quarter against Denver, but he is expected to play on Sunday. He has been one of the few bright spots on the offense this season and is fifth in the NFL with 581 yards rushing.
SLAY LIKELY OUT: Detroit’s top cornerback Darius Slay will likely miss Sunday’s game because of a hamstring injury. Slay sat out the second half last week with the injury and hasn’t practiced this week.
If he can’t go, it will put more pressure on cornerback Nevin Lawson to make plays. Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Lawson is playing a lot better than he did last season.
“He’s been steadily growing and last week he had a really, really good game,” Caldwell said. “Played extremely hard, played extremely well, so I like where he’s trending.”
RUN DEFENSE WOES: Houston is looking to improve its run defense after allowing 190 yards rushing to Denver on Monday.
While Houston’s pass defense is among the best in the league, the Texans have had trouble against the run all season and rank 29th by allowing 135.4 yards rushing a game.
“We all have to do a better job,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “We’ve got to coach it better. We’ve got to get off blocks better. We’ve got to tackle better. At times, we stop it and it looks pretty good, but it’s too inconsistent. We have to do a much better job.”
HEALTHY CLOWNEY: Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney continues to play well in his first healthy season after missing significant time in his first two injury-plagued years in the NFL. Clowney has moved to defensive end after playing outside linebacker his first two seasons to fill in for J.J. Watt, who is out for the season with a back injury.
The top overall pick in the 2014 draft has started each game and has 27 tackles and two sacks, and his eight tackles for losses are the most by an NFL defensive end this season. He’s improved each week as he’s finally seen consistent playing time and has five tackles for losses in the past four games.
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