Strong doses of DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt could make it a long day for the Saints
By John Hendrix
When you think about the New Orleans Saints taking on the Houston Texans, you automatically think of the problems wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive end J.J. Watt pose for the black and gold.
I recently caught up with Josh McSwain of Toro Times, which is our FanSided affiliate that covers the Houston Texans. We traded a series of questions in regards to the upcoming matchup this Sunday. I’ve asked him several questions around the team’s hot streak, and if they can keep it going against the New Orleans Saints.
What has surprised you most about the Texans three-game winning streak?
What has surprised me most is how the defense has played after struggling at the start of the season. After giving up 41 points in the first half to the Dolphins in Miami, I thought this defense was a lost cause. Good thing the coaches didn’t. The defense had also struggled against the Falcons, allowing 48 points in that game (though not all of them were the fault of the defense). A unit that came into the season with so much promise has now finally started to realize its potential. They aren’t going to have to rely on DeAndre Hopkins to win every game for them now.
Saints fans (and the world) know all about J.J. Watt causing terror, but who are some other weapons on the Texans defense Drew Brees and company should be watching out for?
The other guy you should watch mainly is Whitney Mercilus. His last name says just about everything you need to know about him. He is a relentless pass rusher and a former first round pick that is finally coming into his own this season. He has 6.5 sacks, which is a half sack away from his career best. Another guy is Jared Crick, who has been better as a 3-4 end. The former Cornhusker has 34 tackles this season, tied for fifth on the team, which isn’t bad for a 3-4 end.
After some big controversy earlier this season, the Texans gave the nod to Brian Hoyer. What is it about his play that has helped the Texans rebound?
I think he has certain intangibles that Ryan Mallett lacked. He’s steady, commands respect and is more accurate. Mallett seemed to wear all his emotions on his sleeve and would be too prone to ups and downs. Mallett certainly had a bigger arm but he was erratic.
Give us two players, one on each side of the ball, that fans should look for tomorrow – aside the obvious that is.
One of the biggest matchups is going to be in the Texans secondary and how they match up with Brandin Cooks. Johnathan Joseph is the top corner on the Texans roster, but I imagine that extra attention will be paid to the speedy Cooks. Joseph also has decent size for a corner, which means he might see more of Marques Colston. Offensively I’d say Alfred Blue is the guy to watch. The Texans need some balance offensively and Blue is a guy they need to step it up. He caught a touchdown pass last week but he needs to become the lead ball carrier as well. He is auditioning for his future right now.
Some might say this is a big trap game for the Texans, what’s your take? Who wins this game, and why?
I’m not sure I’d say this is a trap game per se. Going to Buffalo next week in the cold of December in Western New York is going to be a tough game for sure. But it’s not a game I think the Texans would be looking past an opponent to. If anything, going to Buffalo seems more likely to be a trap game because the Texans next opponent is the Patriots at home. Will the reigning champs still be undefeated? If so, then Buffalo seemingly becomes a trap game.
In regards to this game, I think DeAndre Hopkins is going to dominate. Seeing how teams have eviscerated the Saints defense, particularly the secondary, I imagine Hopkins will have another field day regardless of who is throwing to him. Dennis Allen might be a fine defensive coordinator in his own right, but he won’t be able to fix this disastrous unit immediately.
On the flip side, the Saints potent offense has been hit or miss, with a lot more miss on the road this season. They put up just 14 in Philadelphia and in Washington. Their only road win came in Indianapolis. They are not a team to trust away from the Superdome. With the way the Texans defense has been playing, they may struggle to get anything going. J.J. Watt has really heated up the past few weeks and should be living in the Saints backfield this week.
This seems like a matchup of two teams going different directions. The Texans are surging while the Saints are sputtering, which means they should keep winning.
Next: Behind Enemy Lines: New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans
We’d like to thank Josh for his time, and encourage you to check out more intel on the Texans at Toro Times! The Week 12 matchup is set for 12PM CST on Sunday, November 29 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The broadcast will be on FOX, with Joe Davis handling play-by-play duties, David Diehl as the color analyst, and Kristina Pink as the sideline reporter.