The third game of the year should be a good one as the Houston Texans come to town.
It should be a good test as the Texans present challenges on both sides of the ball. I am really looking forward to this matchup based on a simple fact: both of these teams have playoff aspirations. It was hard to pick 5 things to watch in this game because there are so many headlines but I gave it my best shot with these. Enjoy the game Saints fans.
1. Was last week’s defense a mirage?
The defense shut down the Bears offense last week, sacking Jay Cutler six times. It was refreshing to see the defense play like that especially after playing the Packers the week before. I will say this Texans offense will be hard to stop but getting stops here and there will be key as you know the Saints offense will get their points. It will also give the Saints' defense confidence knowing that Will Smith will be back giving them some depth at the defensive end spot.
2. Are the Texans for real this year?
It seems like the Texans are everybody's "it" team to make a surprise Super Bowl run. The previous seasons they have had good offensive play but the defense has been the achilles heel preventing them from making that next step. This is a game the Texans circled when the schedule came out because they know the Saints are a playoff caliber team and a win here could take them from pretender to contender.
3. What are the key individual matchups in today’s game?
I think there are so many to name but the one I will be watching for is Andre Johnson against the Saints' secondary. It seemed like the Saints were playing zone on him in the preseason game, something that needs to change in this game. Jabari Greer will be the most likely candidate to cover Johnson as he is their best cover corner and Tracy Porter is out. I would be crazy to say the Saints will shut down Johnson completely but I think you have to hit him at the line, make him work for every catch and mix up the coverage to be successful against an all-pro like Johnson.
4. How will the offense look without Marques Colston?
I thought the whole offense stepped up last week as Marques was out. The thing about the Saints' wideouts are there is not a number one guy. If one goes down the whole group steps up. This injury to Colston will help receivers down the road as it will give some guys some much needed playing time. You can never have too many good receivers as the season goes forward.
5. Channeling Coach Payton, where can this team get better?
First off, it is still early in the season so the Saints are nowhere near the team they will be at the end of the season. I still think this is a playoff team but they have a couple of things to clean up if they want to be a team that contends for the title. The offense needs to get the running game up to par, and the defense needs to be more consistent getting offenses off the field on third downs and stopping the other team's running game. It is a long season and going forward it wouldn’t hurt the Saints to try to get that number one seed in the NFC because we all know how hard is to win in the Superdome for opposing teams.