Week 7 Preview: Houston Texans vs Miami Dolphins

Houston Texans @ Miami Dolphins (-4)
1:00PM Kickoff
Announcers- Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots

After 3 long weeks, the Miami Dolphins return home to Sun Life Stadium to take on the Houston Texans.  While this match-up is pretty even on paper, it could go in either direction.  Let's start talking about the Texans.

The Texans (2-4) have had inconsistent QB play week in and week out.  Brian Hoyer was named the starter in the preseason, only to be benched in the second half of the home opener in favor of Ryan Mallet.  Mallet started 3 games and he was then benched in favor of Hoyer, who is now the QB for the forseeable future, according to head coach Bill O'Brien.  The Texans have a great front 7, led by arguably the best player in the NFL in J.J Watt.  In Tannehill's only start versus Houston, he was tortured by the Texan's defense led by Watt, albeit Tannhill's first start of his career.  Houston's defense ranks 11th in total yards per game and 22nd in points allowed per game.  Watt, currently has 4 sacks on the season with 5 passes defended, to go along with 28 total tackles.  Look for Watt to put immence pressure on RT Ja'Wuan James.  Clowney is questionable with an ankle injury but is expected to suit up for this contenst. 

On the other side of the ball, the Texans offense are 6th in yards per game and 21st in points per game.  While they gain tons of yards and Arian Foster continues to recover from his injury, they typically stall.  They are a -5 in the turnover differential which has hindered their success.  D'Andre Hopkins has been a beast and he is going to be a headache in the secondary with Brice McCain banged up.  Look for the Texans to try and get Arian Foster started early, to see if they can have success as the Dolphins first four opponents have had. 

As the Texans came off a victory on the road versus the Jaguars, the Dolphins returned from their bye week with a convincing and dominating win on the road against the Titans 38-10.  The Dan Campbell Era was ushered in with a very aggressive defensive front, and an offensive line that helped protect Tannehill and game Lamar Miller some serious holes to run through on the way to 119 yards on the ground.  The team tallied 180 yards total on 30+ carries.  While the turnover bug hit, the Dolphins Defense performed at a level we all expected when the season began.  Led by a 4 sack performance by Cameron Wake, the Dolphins defense stifled Marcus Mariota and stopped their rushing attack.  I expect to see a heavy dose of run from Houston, so watch for Suh and company try and shut the Texans run game down to make them one dimensional going forward.  Miami is currently ranked 24th in yards per game defensively and 12th in points allowed per game.

The Dolphins need to continue their offensive spark from last week.  They currently rank 24th in both yards per game and points per game.  Look for a heavy dose of Lamar Miller and possible read option/designed runs from Tannehill to get the offense going.  While a quick passing attack featuring Mathews and Landry to pick up decent yardage in short down and distances.  Dan Campbell will not veer from his game plan he deployed last week, but look for Lazor/Saunders to sprinkle in some wrinkles in the offense to keep Houston off balance.  Their major task is to keep J.J Watt out of the Dolphins backfield and pocket.  James and possibly Cameron/Sims will need to take on Watt just about every play.

The Dolphins come in looking to get to .500 before a trip to New England, so it is imperative that they get this win this Sunday at home.  The Dolphins are 4-5 in their last 9 home games and 0-7 lifetime versus the Texans.  I hope to see a filled stadium and fans screaming at the top of their lungs, propelling the Dolphins to a much needed home victory, to keep the hopes of the playoffs in balance as they approach the difficult part of their schedule.

Prediction:  Dolphins 27- Texans 21
Season: 3-2