This week I go Behind Enemy Lines with John Hendrix of Who Dat Dish to answer some questions prior to Sunday’s matchup.
1. How will Drew Brees attack a defense that went 12 quarters without allowing a touchdown?
Hendrix: The Texans likely won’t give up anything big to the Saints, but the offense can go short with different attacks. Brandin Cooks is great at getting separation on short routes, and the slant game really works to his favor. Cooks is entering the game ‘red hot’ from his past few contests. Drew Brees will look to get him involved early, and try to find some success on the ground with Mark Ingram. Brees is a very smart quarterback, so don’t expect him to get shut down completely.
2. Can the Saints slow down J.J. Watt?
Hendrix: Drew Brees has been sacked 6 times in the past two games, and 23 times this season. Zach Strief will have the task of matching wits with J.J. Watt, and I honestly see this being a long day for him. The Saints offense will attempt to put some double teams with Ben Watson and/or Josh Hill. I could see this being a little effective, and Mark Ingram should pick up any blitzes. Even if the Saints slow down Watt, they have to worry about the rest of Romeo Crennel’s potent defense.
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3. The Saints defense has been lit up this season, particularly in the secondary. What must the Saints do to contain DeAndre Hopkins? Along those same lines, what will Dennis Allen do for this defense that will be better than Rob Ryan?
Hendrix: Delvin Breaux will be key here. There’s little to no doubt that he will be tasked with guarding DeAndre Hopkins. Although Breaux has had some very strong outings against stellar wide receivers, shutting down one of the league’s top receivers simply isn’t going to happen. The only way to help slow Hopkins down will be providing adequate safety help over the top, or getting after Brian Hoyer quickly. The Saints trust Breaux to handle things by himself, so it all depends on the team’s pass rush.
4. Who is one player that could be an X-factor in this game for the Saints?
Hendrix: Someone on the defensive side to watch out for is Hau’oli Kikaha. He’s been hampered by an ankle injury, but is listed as probable on Sunday. This Saints defense desperately needs someone to step up on defense, especially in the pass rushing department. When you have a team struggling like the Saints, someone like Kikaha can jumpstart things. If the league’s worst defense wants to improve, they’ll need to bring the pass rush.
5. Who wins and score.
Hendrix: It’s very tough to get a read on this team right now. The defense will be interesting to watch with Dennis Allen at the helm, and we’ll really see what this team learned from the bye week. However, I think Houston has been playing better overall. Powered by a strong defensive effort, I see the Texans toppling the Saints 27-20.