HOUSTON – The Houston Texans feel like they let one slip away a week ago at NRG Stadium when they fell to Carolina, 16-10. In order to avoid falling below the .500 mark, the Texans need to get the upper hand on these two key matchups or at least hold their own.
Falcons WR Julio Jones vs Texans secondary
Jones, like Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, is a popular answer to the question - who is the best receiver in football. Jones has had two huge games, against the Colts and Eagles. Both of those games were decided by less than a touchdown, with the Falcons winning one of them. Twice Jones has been held in check. The Falcons were beaten soundly in each of those games.
Jones is great at attacking the football and is physically a tough cover. Expect the Texans to try to keep Jones in front of them and avoid the big plays. Corner back Bradley Roby is seeing a lot of his field time in the slot, but may some work on Jones along with rookie Lonnie Johnson, Jr.
Texans edge rushers Whitney Mercilus & J.J. Watt vs Falcons offensive line.
Mercilus has already tallied five sacks and four forced fumbles. He's been extremely opportunistic in creating disruptive plays. Watt has been a force in the last two games up front picking up three sacks and seven QB hits. Falcons tackle Jake Matthews is an above average player, but overall this Falcons line is not among the league's best, in fact, much closer to the league's worst. Matt Ryan was sacked five times against the Titans last week, including twice on fourth down as the Falcons were 1-of-4 on fourth down in the game.
Ryan has been extremely prolific over the first four games tallying better than 300 yards in each contest, but his six interceptions are second-most in the league, topped only by Jared Goff's seven. Of course, Goff's already played five games.