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Scouting Report

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Scouting Report: Key matchups, numbers to know


The Giants come off their bye week to take on the Houston Texans (1-6-1). The Texans have lost three straight and have been outscored by 50 points (second-worst mark in the NFL) this year. Houston played on Thursday in Week 9 against the Eagles, losing, 29-17.

When the Texans have the ball…

Numbers to know

290.5: Total yards gained per game – 29th in the NFL

The Texans are only averaging 16.6 points per game, which is the fifth-fewest in the NFL. Their 72 plays of 10+ yards ranks last.

5.92: Average yards gained on first down – 10th in the NFL

The Texans have been successful on first down because they have successfully mixed in play-action passes with their run game. Their 48.1% run rate on first downs is 22nd in the NFL. They run play-action 52.6% of their 114 pass plays (ranks fifth). According to PFF, quarterback Davis Mills is completing 65% of his first-down passes with a 98 quarterback rating.

31.1%: Third down conversion rate – 30th in the NFL

52.5%: Red Zone touchdown scoring rate – 22nd in the NFL

19: Red Zone drives – tied for fewest in the NFL

This trio of numbers demonstrates how the Texans have struggled situationally on offense. The Texans have a DVOA (-16.1%), a metric summarizing overall offensive efficiency, ranking 29th

Players to watch

Dameon Pierce: The fourth-round pick (107th overall) has been a revelation for the Texans this season. He sits sixth in the NFL with 678 rushing yards and is tied for third in the league with Derrick Henry with 40 first-down runs while averaging 4.58 yards per carry.

He is capable of running away from defenders and running through them. According to Pro Football Focus, he has the fourth-best "force missed tackle" rate in the NFL (.34). He is also third with 572 yards after contact, behind Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb. His five runs of 20+ yards is tied for fifth and he has caught 20 passes for 98 yards.

Davis Mills: Mills is in his second NFL season, and has completed 62.8% of his passes for 207 yards per game, with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Despite those interceptions, Mills only has five turnover-worthy plays this season, according to PFF, which indicates some of those interceptions were not his fault. Of quarterbacks with at least 150 pass attempts, no one has fewer turnover-worthy plays than Davis Mills.

Mills' average depth of target (8.0) ranks 23rd of 36 quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. He has been adept at getting the ball out quickly with an average time to throw of only 2.50 seconds, slower only than Tom Brady, Joe Burrow, and Cooper Rush. Mills has had 12 throws batted at the line of scrimmage this year, more than any other quarterback other than Justin Herbert.

When Mills has thrown deep, he has been effective. The Texans have a 109.7 quarterback rating on throws that travel more than 20 yards in the air, which ranks ninth. Mills has 28 completions of 20 or more yards, which is tied for seventh The Texans have also been good against the blitz, with a 104.9 quarterback rating (10th).

Brandin Cooks: Cooks leads the Texans in receptions (32) and receiving yards (354). He missed last week's game for unknown reasons, though there were some reports he was unhappy that he was not traded at the deadline. He is still one of the fast receivers in the league and he is a savvy route runner. Second year wide receiver Nico Collins is a legitimate deep threat who has not played since Oct. 23r with a groin injury. He is big (6'4, 215 pounds) and fast (4.40 40 yard dash at Michigan's pro day).

Laremy Tunsil: Tunsil is still one of the NFL's best left tackles. According to PFF, he has allowed only seven pressures and one sack this season. 2019 first-round pick Tytus Howard starts at right tackle and has been solid. Rookie Kenyon Green starts at one guard and has had some issues in pass protection (26 pressures allowed this season), with AJ Cann at the other guard position. Scott Quessenberry is the starting center.

Keys for the Giants on defense

* Slow down Dameon Pierce

* Don't let Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins get behind the defense

* Win consistently in the run and pass game on the interior of the defensive line

When the Giants have the ball…

Numbers to know

180.6: Average rushing yards allowed per game – most in the NFL

The Texans give up the third-most yards per rush play (5.45) in the NFL. They've allowed at least 136 yards in seven of their eight games this season, including four straight games giving up 136 or more. In Week 8, the Texans gave up 314 rushing yards to Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans. Houston has allowed 47 runs of 10+ yards this week, which is the most in the NFL. Their 10 runs of 20+ yards given up is tied for 29th in the NFL. They are allowing six yards per carry on first down, which is the second-most in the league.

The Texans; poor rushing defense is also impacting their overall numbers. They are allowing 398.1 yards per game, which is better than only two NFL teams. Only four teams are allowing more than their 6.02 yards per first down play. Only two teams have allowed more than Houston's 41 plays of 20 yards or more. Their defensive DVOA (11.8%) ranks 30th in the NFL.

57.97: Opponent quarterback rating vs. the blitz

The Texans have been one of the most effective teams in the NFL blitzing the opposing quarterback, but they do not blitz very frequently. According to Pro Football Focus, the Texans rank 23rd in the NFL with a 20.8% blitz rate. Their 30.4% pressure rate ranks 20th and they use stunts at about an average rate of 24.6%.

31: Passing plays of 20+ yards allowed – tied for 28th in the NFL

The Texans have given up a lot of big plays this year despite the fact Lovie Smith has returned to his roots and played more Cover-2 than any other team in the NFL (24.4% of their coverage snaps), according to PFF. He also mixes in cover-3 (29.5% of snaps), Cover-1 (22.4% of snaps) and quarters (9.3% of snaps).

Players to watch

Jerry Hughes: In his 13th season, Hughes has been an effective pass rusher for a long time with four seasons of seven sacks or more. He has seven sacks in seven games this season, and is coming off a two-sack performance against one of the best offensive lines in football, the Philadelphia Eagles. According to PFF, Hughes has a 18.9% win rate and 30 total pressures. Hughes splits his time on the right and left edges of the Texans' defense, which operates out of a 4-3 front.

Jalen Pitre: A second-round pick, Jalen Pitre is tied for second on the team in tackles with 57 with five tackles for loss. He has also made an impact in coverage with two interceptions. Pitre splits his time playing the box, covering in the slot, and playing deep safety.

Derek Stingley Jr.: The third overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Stingley had the first interception of his career in Week 5 against the Jaguars. According to PFF, he has not allowed a touchdown this season but has allowed 32 catches for 413 yards.

Keys for the Giants on offense

* Stick with the run game until the Texans show they can't stop it

* Take some shots down the field

* Avoid mistakes against the Texans blitzes

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