The Miami Dolphins will host the Houston Texans this weekend in just the second game at Sun Life Stadium this year. After being rocked by the Buffalo Bills in Week 3, will the rejuvenated Dolphins be able to put up a better showing against a franchise they have never been able to beat in seven tries? Will the Dan Campbell aggressive Dolphins make it to wins in a row and climb back up to .500?
What about the Texans, who, like Miami, are clinging to hope that they can find their way back into the Wildcard chase? What is going on at the quarterback position in Houston and will Jadeveon Clowney be a factor this week? We ask these question to Battle Red Blog's Brett Kollman, who gives us a closer look at Miami's Week 7 opponent.
Have the Texans settled on Brian Hoyer at quarterback, or can we expect more of the flip-flop in-game this week? What are Hoyer's strengths and weaknesses?
I think that Bill O'Brien is (probably) done with the QB flip flopping for now. Brian Hoyer might not have Ryan Mallett's decision making skills under pressure, but he has clearly been the more accurate passer of the two throughout this season. For all of Mallett's football intelligence, he simply couldn't put the ball where it needed to be. Hell, the ground was basically his leading receiver at times. Hoyer has at least been able to get the ball to DeAndre Hopkins as often as humanly possible, so he's got that going for him.
Houston seems to be about the league average on defense this year. Where are they struggling and, other than J.J. Watt, what is the strength of the Houston defense?
Safety has been a position of concern in every game that wasn't against the Jaguars, and the inside linebackers haven't been much better in coverage either. Hell, just the middle of the field in general has been a huge weakness. When you combine that with offenses double teaming Watt on nearly every snap and throwing short, quick passes underneath to neutralize the pass rush, you have a recipe for a defense that has a tendency to bend, bend, bend some more, and then break just for good measure.
DeAndre Hopkins is leading the league in receiving yards and targets this year, and has been dominant in nearly every game so far this season. The Dolphins will likely rotate Brent Grimes on Hopkins all game, possibly with safety help. So, assuming Miami can slow down Hopkins a little, where will the Texans go for their offense?
Lots and LOTS of Arian Foster, most likely. Even if he can't get much done on the ground, Foster is an excellent third down weapon who can be used to keep drives alive through the air. I expect him to get well over 20 touches and once again be the engine that drives this entire team.
Jadeveon Clowney (ankle) returned to practice on Thursday for the Texans, but was described as looking "just so-so" by defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. It does not appear Clowney will be ready for this weekend's game, but what are you hearing?
The Texans are probably going to be cautious with Clowney considering his injury history, but at the same time this is a "must win" game for Houston if they want to stay in the wild card race. This one is about as 50/50 as it gets. If he plays, he certainly won't be 100%. If he doesn't play...well, J.J. Watt will have to do it all by himself for the three billionth week in a row.
How do you think this game plays out on Sunday, and what do you expect to see from the Texans the rest of the year?
I think the Dolphins win, to be honest. They have a renewed fire under Dan Campbell, and now that Kevin Coyle is gone I expect that front seven to play up to their preseason expectations. It certainly helps that they have an advantage at the quarterback position with Ryan Tannehill as well.
Texans 14 - Dolphins 17
A big thanks to Brett for taking the time to answer my questions. You can check out my answers to his questions here.