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Texans slam Saints to keep AFC South hopes alive

The Houston Texans (6-5) remain tied with the Colts atop the AFC South after knocking off the New Orleans Saints (4-7) 24-6 on Sunday. Here's what you need to know:

  1. After missing last week with a concussion, Brian Hoyer entered Sunday hoping to make everyone forget about T.J. Yates. Hoyer can give thanks tonight for a Saints defense that can't blame their latest disaster on jettisoned coordinator Rob Ryan. Hoyer completed his first 11 passes -- two of them for scores -- to give Houston's signal-caller 15 touchdowns to just five picks on the year. You don't want to see him in constant passing situations, but Hoyer (21-of-27 for 205 yards at 7.6 yards per attempt) has done a better job of scanning the field than last season. Barring injury, we won't see Yates again.
  1. The Saints came into Week 12 with a franchise-record 300-plus yards in 30 straight games. That streak is over after the first 10 completions from Drew Brees accounted for just 43 yards. The Saints lack a trustworthy downfield element, leaving Houston to double-team Willie Snead on third-and-longs -- or just tee off on Brees, who finished with 228 yards at just 5.2 yards per throw and saw his streak of 45 games with a touchdown pass snapped. This offense is no fun to watch.
  1. DeAndre Hopkins leads the league in targets, but the Texans wideout was far from a one-man show on Sunday. Hoyer completed throws to nine different pass-catchers. The result was a nice performance by tight end Ryan Griffin, who pulled down four balls for 72 yards and a score.
  1. The Texans remain notched atop the AFC South with a Colts team they'll face in Week 15. But what are the Saints playing for at this stage? It's unclear if Sean Payton will coach this team next season -- or if he should be allowed to. New Orleans had two weeks to prepare and came out flat. Time for a reboot.
  1. Houston was determined to seal off Mark Ingram, holding the Saints runner to minus one yard in the first quarter and just 52 yards off a measly nine carries all day. We'd love to see the team center the offense around Ingram, but New Orleans was already down 14-0 when he finally broke free for a 29-yard run. I love Ingram's running style, but the Saints don't use him enough.
  1. We say this every week, but J.J. Watt was all over the place. At one point, the star defensive lineman playfully waved at the Saints huddle. Watt had his way with a pair of crushing second-half sacks and two tackles for a loss on a day that saw him pay rent in the New Orleans backfield.
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