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Game preview: New Orleans Saints vs Houston Texans

Teams will play at noon Sunday

Second gallery of photos from the New Orleans Saints vs Houston Texans. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)

Following a Week 11 bye, the New Orleans Saints (4-6) go on the road this week to take on the Houston Texans (5 -5), who are currently tied for first place in the AFC South with the Indianapolis Colts, at NRG Stadium. The Saints lead the overall series with the Texans 2-1. In Week Three of the preseason, the Saints dropped a 27-13 contest to the Texans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.    

After losing two straight contests, the Saints took advantage of the bye week as a time of rest and reflection as they enter a stretch run with the final six games. Traditionally, the Saints have experienced success following a bye. Since 2009, the club has posted a 5-1 record following a bye.    

Following the November 15, 47-14, loss at the Washington Redskins, the Saints will be looking to get back into the NFC postseason race and avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season, as they face their third AFC South opponent of 2015 intraconference play. On October 25, the Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 27-21 and on November 8, the Saints fell in overtime 34-28 to the Tennessee Titans. Following the Texans contest, the Saints will close out their 2015 AFC South slate when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 27 for the home finale.      

New Orleans enters Week 12 ranked second in both the NFC and the National Football League in total offense, averaging 414.5 net yards per contest. The Saints are second in passing (313.2 ypg.) and 17th in rushing (101.3 ypg.). New Orleans ranks 32nd overall in total defense (29th against the run, 31st against the pass) and will look for a new start on that side of the ball with the appointment of Dennis Allen to defensive coordinator during the bye week. Houston ranks 13th overall in offense and the Texans are 29th in rushing and sixth in passing. On defense, the Texans rank eighth (20th vs. the run, fifth against the pass).     

In the 47-14 loss at FedExField, the Saints were hurt by the failure to convert in key situations on both offense and defense.     

After the Redskins scored a touchdown on the first possession of the contest, the Saints started fast on their opening drive when RB Mark Ingram saw a hole by the New Orleans sideline, which he turned into a career-long 70-yard gain. Two plays later, QB Drew Brees completed a four-yard touchdown to WR Brandin Cooks. The Redskins then took the lead back on 11-yard touchdown pass from QB Kirk Cousins to WR Jamison Crowder.     

On New Orleans' first drive of the second quarter, the Saints marched down the field in a quick strike fashion with a 12-yard rush by Ingram, an 11-yard completion from Brees to Cooks and then a 60-yard touchdown connection between the dynamic duo.  However, the Redskins would strike back almost immediately with a 78-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to RB Matt Jones and two field goals.    

New Orleans took the ball first in the second half, but failed to score another point, starting with a drive that ended at the Washington 31-yard line, when RBs Tim Hightower and C.J. Spiller could not get one yard in a pair of short yardage situations and the Redskins responded with a field goal. Cousins would throw one more touchdown in the third quarter to put the Redskins ahead by a 37-14 score that put the game out of reach.

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