Texans vs. Saints: Three players that are vital to beating the Saints

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Nov 1, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) attempts to sack Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger (7) during the second quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Outside Linebacker Whitney Mercilus

Whitney Mercilus found himself criticized on this site several times, but that isn’t the case recently. Since the Texan’s sixth game of the season against Jacksonville the former first round pick has been simply outstanding.

In that contest Mercilus found himself in the backfield twice taking down the opposing quarterback. Against the Titans two weeks later he decided two sacks wasn’t enough so he recorded 3.5, a career high for him.

He added one more sack against Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in their huge upset over Cincinnati on Monday Night Football. On the season the outside linebacker has 6.5 sacks on the season stepping up as the only person not named J.J. Watt to create consistent pressure on the quarterback.

On Sunday, the pass rusher will be needed more than ever as Drew Brees will carve a defense up if given time. He is also one of the best at getting the ball out quickly, which means Mercilus and company have to be in the backfield fast.

There is no doubt that New Orleans will focus heavily on shutting down Watt. Just as doubtful would be getting help from Jadeveon Clowney, the outside linebacker who does nothing with his talent. Mercilus needs to be the guy if Houston is going to defeat New Orleans.

Next: Cecil Shorts