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Texans-Dolphins Preview: Five Things To Watch

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Texans. Dolphins. Here's your viewing guide for this week seven matchup, including five things to keep an eye on as the Texans try to improve to 3-4.

This, but like real football.
This, but like real football.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans have been mostly awful my entire life. Besides the cute two year AFC South championship run, every other year has either been eye-gougingly terrible or poisoned mediocrity. Regardless of how the last decade and change has gone, these games against the Dolphins have made it all worth it. From their first win against Miami in 2003, where stupid, fat, twelve year old Matthew thought they were going to make the playoffs (they went 5-11) to 2008 Matt Schub's game winning QB Sneak that led to me leaping off the couch in screams (yeah, you spike that ball into the wall!), to 2012's 30-10 obliteration...these games have made it all worth it.

So now here we are again with a 7-0 streak on the line. The Texans could lose every game this year, and I wouldn't care as long as they beat the Dolphins.

Man, being a Texans fan is so sad.

1.) AWAKE, OH GREAT SLEEPING GIANT!

The Miami Dolphins were the cool hip bandwagon to jump on this offseason. After consecutive 8-8 seasons and additions to the roster, they were supposed to make the leap from mediocre to playoffs. Instead, they have been a wad of awful, starting the year 1-3, before firing their head coach and winning last week.

Is that a serial killer who splays open hitchhikers?

Campbell

No, that's just Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell. Like relationships where people's next partner is usually the exact opposite of the previous, changing head coaches is the same. After rummaging in averageness with the quiet, intelligent (?), somewhat aloof Joe Philbin, the Dolphins switched the sheets and hopped into bed with the fierytense Dan Campbell.

The former player has already changed the culture in a week. He is bringing out a raging batch of maniacal physical football players instead of the timid bunch that complained about practice squad players (HAVE FUN WITH THAT TROPHY!) that limped through the first four weeks. Last week, Miami outhit the Titans and obliterated them in every aspect of the game.

In MMQB, Campbell told Peter King they were about to wake up a sleeping giant. Is this true? I don't know. A lot of teams look great against the lost souls of Tennessee. Still, anytime a NFL team wins by three scores, it is worth paying attention.

The Texans haven't knocked anyone around yet and haven't shown any physicality. It will be interesting to see if they can match blows with this new ANGRY Dolphins team.

2.) DeAndre Hopkins is Really Good at Football.

Someone needs to start a charity for Devon House. I feel terrible for him. Against him and the Jaguars, Hopkins caught 10 passes on 15 targets for 2 touchdowns and 148 yards. As this season continues, more cornerbacks are going to get the same treatment. Hopkins is the only viable receiver, besides Arian Foster, on Houston's roster. The passing game strategy is pretty much throw the ball to Hopkins and throw the ball some more to Hopkins.

So far, it has worked. Nuk leads the league in targets and yards and is second in touchdowns and receptions, barely trailing in those categories. Additionally, he's doing this all with the poopsome twosome of Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer at quarterback.

This week, Hopkins' totals should increase even more. We should see another game similar to last week. The Dolphins have trouble against other teams' #1 receivers. This season, Miami is ranked 30th in DVOA against #1 receivers with a rate of 41.4%, giving up an average of 85.4 yards a game.

3.) IS HE BACK?

Arian Foster may have rushed for below three yards a carry last Sunday, but he looked healthy for the first time this season. In his first two starts, everything was there: the vision, the cutback, the elusiveness. All of it was on the display except for speed. Foster would make his cut, but he couldn't accelerate. Arian left a ton of yards on the field because he lacked burst.

Against the Jags, Foster could actually jam his foot into the gas pedal after turning. Houston's ability to run the ball is vital to the Texans' offensive success, and Foster is the key to the run game. Arian is one of the few running backs who transcends his offensive line. His ability to make plays no one else can see and whiz past blown blocks masks an offensive line that is average at best. If he is able to pick up four, five, twelve yards, it eases the pressure on Brian Hoyer.

This last sentence is the key. Hoyer is a middling QB. But he can still run an offense if the run game is going and puts him in the perfect position to succeed. If Foster is carving up the defense, Hoyer can make plays. And by "plays," I mean "throw the ball to DeAndre Hopkins."

4.) CAMERON WAKE IS VERY SCARY.

Cause when you live on MLK and it gets very scary,

You might have to pull your AK and send one to the cemetery

-Killer Mike- Lie, Cheat, Steal

I don't know much about living in a scary neighborhood. And I know barely much more about what it's like to block Cameron Wake. For both of these facts, I am thankful. However, Chris Clark and Duane Brown do know what it's like to block Wake, and they are going to have to put their expertise to work against edge rush lightning.

After notching zero sacks and suffering from a hamstring injury, Wake was back last week against Tennessee. In Nashville, he obliterated lackluster right tackles. He had four sacks in the first half. Most players don't reach this mark in an entire season. Oh, and he also forced two fumbles as well.

Wake's pass rush is all speed. He has an incredible get-off. It's like one of those roller coasters that blast you from 0-60 in seconds and then tosses you around a plate of metal spaghetti. Wake is one of the few defenders in the NFL who can simply run past tackles. He combines this with a rip move, all while using incredible spacial recognition that doesn't allow his rush to take him past the quarterback. Then, when tackles over-step to reach their mark quicker, he bull rushes through them.

Pay attention to his speed rush on Sunday, as well as Wake's counter, a bullrush, when he's getting after the passer against the Texans.

5.) THE HOUSTON TEXANS DON'T LOSE TO THE MIAMI DOLPHINS.

The Texans have lost a lot of games in their history. 124, to be exact. Yet none of these losses came to the team with a porpoise on their helmet. Houston is 7-0 against Miami.  They have won those games by an average margin of six points (24-18). Not even the fabled team from 1972 could beat the Houston Texans because:

THE HOUSTON TEXANS DON'T LOSE TO THE MIAMI DOLPHINS.

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