All offseason the biggest question about the Texans was if they were going to be able to turn around Wade Phillips’ installed defense fast enough to have a successful 2011.
Two weeks into the season, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Phillips and coach Gary Kubiak have the Texans 2-0, and this week they head to New Orleans for what could turn into a shootout with Drew Brees and the Saints.
For two weeks the Texans D has been able to do a nice job in holding down a Colts team without Peyton Manning and last week they held down the Dolphins in Miami. The Saints – that will be a little harder to do.
New Orleans put up 30 last week in a win over the Bears at home, and with Brees at the controls, it will take a big effort from Phillips’ D to keep the Saints from going up and down the field.
Before you get ahead of yourself with the Texans start – don’t forget they were 2-0 just two seasons ago – and they went on to lose 10 of their final 14 games.
Kubiak said his squad isn’t thinking about the possibility of the first playoff berth in the Texans’ 10-year history, but rather focusing on the task at hand, which for this week is Brees and the Saints.
“We’ve got a lot more poise (than last season),” Kubiak said. “Nobody’s in here jumping around, high-fiving each other. We’re just in here, business as usual, trying to correct our mistakes, trying to understand what we’re going to have to do better to win in New Orleans.”
Houston is allowing league bests of 271.0 yards and 10.0 points per game – a vast improvement from the 442.0 yards and 25.5 points through two games last season. They would love to have those numbers against the Saints this week, who are 1-1 after a loss to the Packers and the win over the Bears.
The Saints rank fifth offensively, averaging 429.5 yards and 32.0 points. They have outscored their opponents 128-78 in winning four of their last five home games.
Brees has averaged 313.5 yards and thrown for 15 touchdowns while winning five of his last six at home against AFC opponents.
Brees threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns against the Bears – including a 79-yard scoring pass to Devery Henderson, who had three catches for 103 yards as top receiver Marques Colston continues to recover from a broken collarbone suffered in a Week 1 loss at Green Bay.
The Texans will have to force some mistakes, and will have to make the Saints earn every patch of yard they get. They can’t give up big plays, and more so on offense they can’t turn the ball over.
Matt Schaub has to use his run game with Ben Tate to control the clock, and that will also keep Brees and co. off the field. The Saints are a team that thrive on teams making mistakes, the Texans are a team that can give away games if they are not careful with the ball.
Phillips will come up with a good plan against Brees, but the Saints are suck a better team at home, it is unlikely that the Texans will have enough firepower to match the Saints high-powered orchestra on offense of Brees and company.
Look for a tight game that may not have as much scoring as one would think, but will still go the way of the Saints as they get to 2-1. New Orleans 24 Houston 20