It's the Houston Texans 2-0 vs. the New Orleans Saints 1-1 in the Louisiana Superdome this week, both needing a win to keep the ball rolling on season 2011.
John McClain has been covering the Texans for "longer than a coon's age" for the Houston Chronicle.
The undefeated Texans defeated the Colts without Peyton Manning and won at Miami. Now the terrain gets more difficult, beginning at New Orleans on Sunday.
McClain picked the Texans to start 2-0 and finish 11-5. He had them defeating Indy and Miami and losing to the Saints. McClain figured the key to this game is going to be how the Texans offense handles the exotic blitzes created by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, a former U. of Houston and Oilers assistant, and how the defense handles a Saints running game that's better than Miami's.
Houston coach Gary Kubiak said after the 23-13 victory over the Dolphins that the defense played the pass, keeping six players up front to stop the run and using five to control the pass. They limited Chad Henne to 170 yards after his 416-yard performance against New England and won by 10. But they gave up 153 yards rushing, most between the tackles.
"This is going to be a fun, physical game between two teams that know each other well because they tangle every preseason, usually including practices against each other," writes McClain. "They're developing a nice little rivalry for two teams that don't even play in the same conference. For the first time, the Texans won't be favored
"If they win this one, the NFL will finally take notice that this is a special team. If they drop to 2-1, they'll have to defeat the Steelers at Reliant Stadium to get the recognition they deserve."
McClain is picking the Saints, but he asks if his readers can imagine what Reliant would be like if they upset the Saints and come home with a 3-0 record to play Pittsburgh.
The Saints are favored by 3 1/2 points.
SOME hither, others yon: PFT.com's power ratings have the Saints No. 2 behind the Packers. Its ratings: 1. Packers (2-0). "After getting torched by the Saints and the Panthers, it could be time to worry about pass defense." 2. Saints (1-1). "Saints still plenty good.": 3. Patriots (2-0). "Tom Brady is on pace to throw for more than 4.2 miles this season."...
Here's how Saints play-by-play announcer Jim Henderson compares Darren Sproles with Reggie Bush: "In Miami, as the Dolphins were falling to 0-2, Reggie Bush was getting seven touches and averaging three yards per touch. It apparently took one game last week for Tony Sparano and the Dolphins to realize he simply isn't an every down back. When it comes to his successor here -- super Smurf Darren Sharper -- more is more. In two games, Sproles has been wise in his decisions and decisive in his actions. He's returned four punts for 93 yards and a touchdown -- more yards and more touchdowns than Reggie accumulated in 14 returns all of last season...
"His 12-yard average per touch in all phases of the game is nearly three yards better than Reggie averaged here his last two seasons. That's not to denigrate Reggie. It's only to elevate Sproles, who has already proven to be a durable and complementary piece to the Saints' complex offensive puzzle."...
...Saints strong safety Roman Harper is going tio be named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week after his two-sack performance against the Bears...From Saints RB Joique Bell's Twitter account: "Life throws a lot of curve balls at you, you just have to troll with the punches and #Bounce Back...'GodChild.'...
Will Smith is returning for the Saints after a two-game suspension. The Saints showed last week against Chicago that it could operate just fine without him. Now, the question becomes, what can they do with him?
The Houston Texans win against the Miami Dolphins was a road game which might show the stuff they are made of. Three AFC teams are now 2-0, the Texans, the Buffalo Bills and not surprisingly.
by Ed Staton
(Visit Louisiana Sports Talk.com to order your LSU and Saints shirts and treasures.)
Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item. He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director. He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.
A July 4th Fact of Facts: America is Land of Immigrants
Poll: Trump strong on jobs, weak on tweets, viewed as reckless, thin-skinned, sexist
President Trump, It doesn't feel like Independence Day
YIPPIE! The naked truth about free speech, cherished especially on Independence Day
On July 4, 1778, George Washington doubled liquor rations for the soldiers quartered in Princeton, NJ, as a way to celebrate Independence Day. It’s fitting, therefore, that the Fourth of July is America's top-selling beer holiday, according to the Beer Institute. It estimated, in 2013, that sales of beer on the 4th could total $1 billion, doubtlessly higher today. “In moderation,” claims a CA brewery investor, Grover McKean, “beer is tasty and healthy.” Who could disagree?
As Donald Trump faces the top world leaders this week, including a face-time with Vladimir Putin, and as his healthcare proposals face an uphill climb, his poll numbers for how the nation views him could be better.
According to a morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday morning, his tweets, including that against MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, and his personality are not helping him, at all.
II know the calendar says we are approaching the 4th of July, but, it just doesn’t feel like Independence Day.
Perhaps it should. It’s hot as heck. The airlines have been packed. The hot dogs are ready for grilling. The umps are saying, "play ball". The patriotic activities are scheduled. The fireworks are ready-for-blasting.
To President Thomas Jefferson, July 4th celebrated more than the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He thought it was a link to the future. The message prominent colonists sent to King George III led to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the initial and most prominent feature of which is the First Amendment that guarantees free speech. It’s part of the country’s fundamental essence that each man and woman can say what they feel about government, or anything else, proving President Donald Trump needs some civics lessons.