The New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans are forming a pretty good rivalry one would begin to think. They seem to face each other year-in and year-out during the regular season. Both teams practice together a lot during training camps and always seem to pair off during the preseason. Might as well throw one in the AFC South or the other in the NFC South.
None the less, they are in different conferences but still have a big test ahead of them this Sunday when they face off in the Superdome. A number of factors are playing into this weekend’s big game between the 1-1 Saints and the undefeated 2-0 Texans so let’s take a look at what to watch for.
~ Jo-Lonn Dunbar’s impact for the Saints at middle linebacker – If it is indeed true and starter Jonathan Vilma cannot play on Sunday, then it will be Dunbar stepping into his place. Dunbar is no slouch and is actually a great talent at linebacker, but this will mark the first time he has the pressure and a lot riding on his shoulders as the starter. He’ll also need to essentially take over as the Saints’ defenseive leader against an explosive Texans’ offense.
~ The Texans’ two-headed running back attack – Arian Foster has been battling injuries all season so far and only practiced half a week, but is listed as probable for the game. Ben Tate has been more than a worthy fill-in durin Foster’s absence and is dangerous all on his own. The Saints defensive line is going to have to step up like they did against the Chicago Bears and make sure not to let either Tate or Foster find the hole or the outside.
~ Will the Saints running game show up? – Even though Chris Ivory is injured, New Orleans still has Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, and Mark Ingram in the backfield with Drew Brees. The only problem is that through two games, the production in the running attack has really been almost close to nothing. While it did get a little better against the Bears, there is just no firepower coming from any of the backs.
If the Saints can get a balanced attack going offensively then there is no telling just how explosive that unit can be. Sproles does an excellent job in the passing game coming out of the backfield, but there has got to be more out of Ingram and Thomas when grabbing the hand-offs.
~ Getting to Matt Schaub – Simple enough, the defense needs to attack Schaub like they did Jay Cutler last week. An early lead produced by the offense will force the Texans to have to throw more and eliminate those dangerous running backs. Hounding Schaub will cause mistakes and blow this game open for the Saints.
For e-mail updates whenever a new article is posted, please subscribe at the top of the page and follow me on Twitter: @CapnDanny, GoogleBuzz, Facebook, or at News, Notes, and the Who Dat Nation.
Please be sure to check out BlackandGold.com and SaintsReport.com for more.