Jets vs Texans: Top 5 players to watch


Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) drops back to pass against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets vs Texans game will be very important as Gang Green will try to salvage their season starting Sunday, when they take on the Texans. In what should be a tightly fought defensive battle, here are the top 5 players worth watching. 

The NY Jets are at a crossroads. Under new coach Todd Bowles, the team soared to a 4-1 record. However, the team has heavily regressed as the season progressed. Since their October 18th win over the Redskins, the Jets have posted a 1-3 record. In that span, their only win was a weak 28-23 effort over the lowly Jaguars.

The Jets’ struggles reached a new low last week, as they suffered a humiliating 22-17 loss to Rex Ryan and the Bills.  In the process, they lost their playoff spot.

The Jets are running low on second chances and wiggle room. The team has plenty of winnable games left on the schedule (Texans, Dolphins, Titans, Bills) and a legitimate chance at making the playoffs. But the Jets will have to play significantly better.

Their first stop on their road to redemption is Houston, where they will take on the Texans Sunday. The Texans (4-5) have some talented players on both sides of the ball and should not be taken lightly.

In what is expected to a close game, here are five players that could make all the difference for their respective teams.

Next: 5. Gunslinger returns to face former team

Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) scrambles with the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. The Bills defeated the Jets 22-17. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

5. Ryan Fitzpatrick

As is often the case with the Jets, their biggest question is at the quarterback position.

On the bright side, the Jets have arguably been blessed with their best quarterback play in the past decade. Ryan Fitzpatrick has served as a steady, if unspectacular, presence behind center. The journeyman quarterback has thrown for 15 touchdowns and 9 interceptions while completing just under 60% of his passes.

Unfortunately, Fitzpatrick injured his left thumb a few weeks ago, and the long term impact of that injury remains to be seen. Following the team’s loss to the Bills last Thursday night, Fitzpatrick underwent surgery on his thumb.

The team is not certain if Fitzpatrick will be able to play against the Texans. However, if he can regain the health and effectiveness that characterized the first half of his season, the Jets should be able to defeat the Texans.

Next: 4. Defensive Player of the Year

Nov 1, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) hits Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger (7) in the second quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

4. J.J. Watt

The most valuable player on the majority of NFL teams is the quarterback.

The Texans are a clear exception to the rule. Defensive end J.J. Watt is one of the greatest defensive players in the league, and has served as the heart and soul of the Texans since his breakout 2012 season.

In particular, Watt is a terror to opposing quarterbacks. The future Hall of Famer has posted an astounding 66.5 sacks in 73 games. He will absolutely look to add more to his total against the Jets.

If Watt is able to pressure the quarterback and stifle the Jets’ running game, the team will be at risk of being upset in Houston.

Next: 3. The Texans' deep receiving threat

Nov 1, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) makes a touchdown reception during the second quarter as Tennessee Titans cornerback Jason McCourty (30) defends at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

3. DeAndre Hopkins

With running back Arian Foster sidelined due to injury, the Texans have one elite weapon left on offense. While he does not receive the same level of attention as a Calvin Johnson or Antonio BrownDeAndre Hopkins is one of the best wide receivers in football.

Having already eclipsed the 900 yard receiving mark, Hopkins is on pace for a career year. The former Clemson star has also hauled in 7 touchdown passes through his first 9 games.

Completing shutting down Hopkins does not happen, as he’s posted at least 50 receiving yards in every game this season. Fortunately for the Jets, they have an elite cornerback (Darrelle Revis) who should be able to minimize Hopkins’ impact.

Since the Texans lack an elite quarterback, limiting Hopkins will cause the game to become a close, low scoring, defensive battle. Those are the kinds of games the Jets are built to win.

Next: 2. Keep an eye on this quarterback if he's healthy

Nov 1, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer (7) attempts a pass during the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

2. Brian Hoyer

Like the Jets, the Texans lack an elite quaterback. Current Texans starter Brian Hoyer has shown great potential this season (13 TD/4 INT), but has yet to establish himself as a consistent starter.

That being said, the Texans are a significantly better team when Hoyer is on the field. Their current backup quarterback, T.J. Yates, has yet to throw his 200th career pass. If Yates was pressed into playing Sunday, his inexperience could be feasted upon by the hungry and angry defense of the Jets.

Cue the Texans’ last game against the Bengals. Although they posted an impressive upset win over Cincinnati, Hoyer was forced to exit the game early with a concussion.

It’s currently unknown if Hoyer will play Sunday. However, if he is forced to sit the bench (or even if his effectiveness is limited by injury), the Jets will have a prime opportunity to leave Houston with a big win.

Next: 1. Jekyll or Hyde at Running Back?

Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) stiff arms Buffalo Bills linebacker Tony Steward (50) in the 2nd half at MetLife Stadium. The Bills defeated the Jets 22-17 Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

1. Chris Ivory

Even with Chan Gailey bringing a spread offense to New York, the Jets still live and die by the ground and pound formula. When the team plays great defense and posts 100+ rushing yards in a game, they are well-positioned to beat anyone.

Chris Ivory is the Jets’ battering ram and their only good option at the running back position. When he plays well, the team thrives. Unfortunately, when Ivory struggles, the Jets tend to fall apart. He missed the team’s loss to the Eagles due to injury, and posted a meager 41 and 17 yards rushing in the teams’ losses to the Patriots and Raiders respectively.

Next: Should fantasy owners start or sit Chris Ivory in Week 11?

The only exception was in the Jets’ loss to the Bills, when Ivory’s 99 rushing yards was not quite enough to compensate for the team’s constant mistakes. Ivory has a prime opportunity to have a big game Sunday, as the Texans have one of the worst rushing defenses in the league (117.9 rushing yards/game).

If Ivory can help his team sustain long drives and minimize the amount of time the defense has to be on the field, the Jets will gain a desperately needed victory.