The matchup of the Week 13 is on Sunday Night Football, and that is the battle between two of the top players at their respective positions.
When DeAndre Hopkins of the Houston Texans and Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots line up opposite of each other on Sunday Night Football, a national audience will have the opportunity to watch two of the very best at what they do battle for four quarters in primetime.
The Texans have wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on their side, and though he’s not playing at the level he did last season — in terms of his overall numbers — he is still the best wide receiver on the team and one of the very best in the entire league.
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According to Pro Football Focus, in 2019 Hopkins is second in targets at 111 and second in receptions with 81 entering Week 13. Hopkins also has 839 yards receiving (11th in the NFL) and six receiving touchdowns (tied for seventh overall).
Also with PFF, they have Hopkins graded at 86.8 after the first 12 weeks of the NFL season as Hopkins is averaging 10.4 yards per carry.
Gilmore has been in the league since 2012 when he was the 10th overall selection back then. This season Gilmore has collected 30 tackles, four interceptions (tied for second in the NFL) and has been targeted by the opposing quarterback 66 times (eighth in the NFL) and has allowed just 30 receptions. The Patriots cornerback has a 2019 PFF grade of 75.3
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke about Gilmore and the season he’s had thus far in transcripts provided by the media department of the Texans from a conference call:
“Stephon has had a good year for us. He’s been a very productive player, he’s tackled well, covered well. He’s gotten his hands on the ball when he’s had an opportunity. He’s done a really good job for us.”
This matchup really stands out as Texans head coach Bill O’Brien was asked about it this week during a media press conference. In weekly quotes provided by the Texans Media Department, O’Brien was quoted as saying the following when asked about what makes Gilmore one of the best defensive players in the league:
“Great player, been playing for a long time. He’s got good size, really good movement skills for his size. He’s a very smooth player, very instinctive player. He usually covers the best receiver in man-to-man coverage, obviously studies tape a lot. Just a really, really good player.”
Last year in the season opener, Hopkins had eight receptions for 78 yards and no touchdowns when facing the Patriots. In ’17 during a Week Three game at New England, Hopkins had seven receptions for 76 yards and no touchdowns.
Those are the two games spotlighted because those are the only two games in the career of Hopkins that he had Deshaun Watson as his quarterback against the Patriots, and both of those games resulted in losses by a single score.
This is a marquee matchup between Hopkins and Gilmore, and one that all football fans need to be watching on Sunday night, because it is rare where two players with the abilities they possess battle each other for four quarters when it is man-to-man coverage in front of a national stage.