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John DeShazier: Key ingredients for a a Saints victory vs. the Texans

Blocking J.J. Watt hugely important

  1. The New Orleans Saints offense begins and ends with protecting Drew Breeseffectively. The Texans defense begins and ends with defensive end J.J. Wattmaking those kinds of plans look foolish, wreaking havoc like few others in NFL history have. If Watt (league-leading 11.5 sacks and 33 quarterback hits) has 1.5 sacks, he'd become the second-fastest player in NFL history to 70, behind the late Reggie White. Simply, the Saints have been at their best when they have protected Brees best. That hasn't been on the road, where Brees is completing 63 percent of his passes, but has been sacked 11 times in four games, has six touchdown passes (five interceptions) and averages 288 passing yards per game. The Saints are 1-3 in those games. Watt primarily could line up against right tackle Zach Strief, who may require some help against Watt (almost everyone does).
  1. Notice the word "primarily" in the previous sentence? Good, because Watt moves along the line and Houston undoubtedly might want to see him test left guard Andrus Peat, who appears poised to make his first start at the position. The rookie, first-round pick started two games at left tackle when Terron Armsteadwas injured and, as expected, had mixed results. He worked at every line position during training camp so the concept of playing guard isn't foreign to him, even though he only had played left tackle before joining the Saints. Count this among the adjustments that the Saints made during bye week in an effort to either change what they were doing, or change the people who were doing it.
  1. What will new defensive coordinator Dennis Allenhave in store for Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer? Forget Hoyer's numbers this season – the pertinent numbers for the Saints are these: Opposing quarterbacks have completed 67 percent of their passes for 3,081 yards and 28 touchdowns, with four interceptions. The Saints periodically have applied pressure (22 sacks), but they haven't forced turnovers and hurried quarterbacks nearly enough. Hoyer is completing 60 percent of his passes, for 243 yards per game. The Saints likely want to put the game on his shoulders (the Texans run for 91 yards per game, on 3.3 yards per carry), but they also have to be wary of Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins(76 catches for 1,045 yards and nine touchdowns). Man-to-man responsibilities, when they're called for, likely will go to cornerback Delvin Breaux.
  1. Subtract Mark Ingram's70-yard run from the total, and the Saints ran 24 times for 88 yards on the rest of their attempts in their last game, against Washington. That's not the efficiency they sought but they get to try it again against Houston, which is allowing 113.2 rushing yards per game, on 4.2 yards per attempt. Ingram is having his best NFL season so far; he has 998 yards from scrimmage (661 rushing, 337 receiving) and already has topped his previous single-season high for receptions (29 last year, 40 this year) and receiving yards (145 last year). New Orleans may feed the Texans a heavy dose of Ingram and the running game.
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