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Know your Foe: New Orleans Saints | Week 6


It only happens every four years so every Texans v. Saints matchup is special, regardless of game location. However, the game location has mattered greatly in their five game series.

In New Orleans, the Saints are undefeated against the Texans, having won all three games (2003, 2011 and on MNF 2019). In Houston, though, the Texans are undefeated against the Saints having won in 2007 and 2015.

This week's game takes place at NRG Stadium and if last week's trends from the Falcons' matchup hold up as well this week too, the Texans will even up this series, and their record, at 3-3. Now, we have a LONG way to go before that happens and plenty of improvements are needed from week five for the good guys. But, I'd certainly like for those trends to stay true to form so let's just go with it.

Pro Bowl QB Derek Carr has taken over as the starter in New Orleans after a long and storied career with the Raiders. Now, he's beaten the Texans a couple of times in his career, including in 2016 on MNF in Mexico City, but he's never done it in Houston. Okay, so it was only one game, but it's still facts. His best game against the Texans, though, was that one time here in Houston in 2019 in a losing effort. This year, though, he's fighting through a little bit of a shoulder issue but he didn't need to do much last week in a 34-0 demolition of the Patriots at vaunted Gillette Stadium. The top five Saints defense took care of that business, holding the Patriots to 156 total yards and scoring more points (seven) than the Patriots offense (zero).

This is as complete a team as the Texans are going to face all season long so let's get to Know the Texans' Week 6 Foe - the New Orleans Saints

2023 Schedule (3-2)

Week 1 - W Tennessee Titans 16-15

Week 2 - W @ Carolina Panthers 20-17

Week 3 - L @ Green Bay Packers 18-17

Week 4 - L Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-9

Week 5 - W @ New England Patriots 34-0

Week 6 - @ Houston Texans

Week 7 - Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 8 - @ Indianapolis Colts

Week 9 - Chicago Bears

Week 10 - @ Minnesota Vikings

Week 11 - BYE

Week 12 - @ Atlanta Falcons

Week 13 - Detroit Lions

Week 14 - Carolina Panthers

Week 15 - New York Giants

Week 16 - @ Los Angeles Rams

Week 17 - @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 18 - Atlanta Falcons

Saints OFFENSE (in 2023 regular season)

Rushing Yards Per game - 97.2 ypg (20th in the NFL)

Passing Yards Per game - 191.8 ypg (24th)

Total offense per game - 289.0 ypg (25th)

Turnovers lost - 6 (3 INT, 3 Fumbles lost)

Expected Saints starting offense for Week 6


RB - Alvin Kamara

WR - Chris Olave

WR - Rashid Shaheed

WR - Michael Thomas


LT - Trevor Penning

LG - James Hurst (Starter Andrus Peat - injured, inactive last week)

C - Erik McCoy

RG - Cesar Ruiz

RT - Ryan Ramczyk

Other Key Offensive pieces

Weapon X/QB - Taysom Hill

QB - Jameis Winston





Italics - Rookie

ALL CAPS - New to team in 2023

Keys to winning v. the Saints Offense

1. The Human Option Route - Five years after the fact, I still can't get the image out of my head. 2018 NFC Championship game in New Orleans. Sean Payton was the coach at the time and he kept calling what seemed like the same play over and over again. Pro Bowl star RB Alvin Kamara ran one option route after the next. If a Rams LB lined up inside, Kamara ran up on him and broke outside. If a Rams S/LB lined up outside, Kamara ran his route to the inside. It felt like he ran that 50 times but it connected 11 times for 96 yards. With Kamara now back for the Saints, it's one of the easiest ways to get him the ball into space where he can kill defenses. The Texans haven't seen a receiving RB like Kamara, shoot, wait, they've not seen a COMPLETE RB like Kamara in a while. If they don't shut off his options, the Saints will go to the well over and over again, just like in my nightmares.

2. Where's the pressure? - The Texans started off the season chasing Ravens QB Lamar Jackson all around the yard but they've really not gotten back to that level since week one. Yes, they did sack Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett three times. He ran into one sack and the Texans produced two others. However, last week against Atlanta, the Texans pass rush struggled to get to QB Desmond Ridder throughout the day, especially in the second half. As a result, Ridder threw for over 200 yards in the second half alone. If the Texans don't move Saints QB Derek Carr off his spots by getting consistent pressure, he'll do the same, or worse, damage for a full 60 minutes. Regardless of who, and how, there MUST be multiple Texans in Carr's face CONSISTENTLY if the Texans are to head into the bye week with a win.

3. Olave, oh oh oh ohhhhhhhh - In 2022, there were about a half dozen wide receivers in the NFL Draft class that were special. Multiple analysts had six to eight different names at the top of their Draft rankings. USC's Drake London ended up being WR1 for the Falcons in that draft class, but the guy that always had my attention and was WR1 for me that year was Saints WR Chris Olave. The Saints must have thought the same thing because they traded up to No. 12 to grab the future No. 12 for the Saints. His easy, smooth and explosive speed worries me more than anything in this Saints' offense, including Kamara. He can generate one play drives from anywhere on the field just running by an unsuspecting secondary and making plays on the ball deep downfield. I knew all that I needed to know about Olave when in a game against Indiana in 2019, he caught a deep bomb for a TD and then turned right around and blocked a punt for a safety on the ensuing drive. He's not only a speedster, he's a hard core football player. Suffice to say, it's that speed that is ultra-difficult to account for, but that's just one of the many assets for one of the best young receivers in the NFL.

Saints DEFENSE (in 2023 regular season)

Rushing Yards Allowed Per game - 91.6 ypg (10th in the NFL)

Passing Yards Allowed Per game - 183.0 ypg (54th)

Total offense Allowed per game - 274.6 ypg (4th)

Turnovers generated - 9 (7 INT, 2 Fumble recoveries - Saints are +3 in TO margin)

Expected Saints starting defense for Week 6

DE - Cameron Jordan



DE - Carl Granderson

LB - Pete Werner

MLB - Demario Davis

CB - Marshon Lattimore

S - MARCUS MAYE (returning from suspension)

Nickel - Alontae Taylor

S - Tyrann Mathieu

CB - Paulson Adebo

Other Key Defensive pieces

DE - Tanoh Kpassagnon





CB - Isaac Yiadom

LB - Zack Baun


S - J.T. Gray

Italics - Rookie

ALL CAPS - New to team in 2023

Keys to winning v. the Saints Defense

1. Dynamic Duo - The Texans' offense started the season playing Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen of the Baltimore Ravens. I said at the time that was the best duo that the Texans would face this year, but the Demario Davis and Pete Werner duo will be a strong challenger to my claim. Davis is one of the best leaders in the NFL and Werner's instincts and speed make him one heck of a three down linebacker. If the Texans don't get hats on these two effectively in both pass and run phases, those two will finish with Smith/Queen-like numbers and production.

2. We meet again - It's still difficult to look across to the other sideline and see one of my favorite football players of all-time wearing a different colored jersey. Former Texans/current Saints S Tyrann Mathieu is that player and he's still making game changing plays. On the Patriots second drive of the game last week, Patriots QB Mac Jones was hit as he was throwing the ball, so it fluttered in the air. Mathieu, as usual, put himself in the perfect position to snatch the wounded duck six inches from the ground. He then sped 27 yards into the end zone with the first score of the game. He is such a menace because he has some of the best football instincts of any defender the Texans will face in 2023. It's imperative to know where he is pre-snap to understand what he can do post-snap.

3. The Rookie - Preseason games typically don't tell a whole lot about a team or a player, but the Texans got a glimpse of what rookie DT Bryan Bresee can do with his pass rush in week three of the preseason. He faced Texans RG Shaq Mason early in the game and beat him with a nasty spin move. It was that same spin move that he threw against Kenyon Green later in the game as well. It was clear that the spin move is Bresee's go-to pass rush move against the interior OL. The Texans have protected QB C.J. Stroud well lately, but, in that preseason game they allowed Bresee to get multiple hits on the QB. It's not often that a team faces a team in a regular season game six weeks after playing them in a preseason game but this is a situation in which the Texans need to use that information to slow down the athletic, disruptive rookie defensive lineman, amongst other stars on that DL.

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