Week 1 of the NFL season continues with Monday Night Football, and one of the two contests features two teams with aspirations of the postseason as the Houston Texans travel to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints. Both of these offenses feature elite quarterbacks and premier wide receivers as it will be Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins for the Texans against the Saints’ Drew Brees and Michael Thomas. Kickoff for this one is scheduled for 7:10 pm ET.
The Texans were the most active team on final cuts day. In multiple moves, they traded away Jadeveon Clowney but shored up their offensive line by bringing in Laremy Tunsil. In that same deal that brought Tunsil, they also acquired Kenny Stills to help at the wide receiver position. Lastly, they brought in Carlos Hyde to serve as a backup to Duke Johnson after an injury to running back Lamar Miller earlier in the preseason.
The Saints are hoping to get the most out of the remaining years for the aging Brees. They locked up Thomas to a lucrative contract and brought in Latavius Murray to serve as Alvin Kamara’s backup after the parting with Mark Ingram. Regardless, the offense should be high-flying again, and the defense should be solid.
The point spread for this one currently sits with the New Orleans Saints being 6.5-point favorites playing at home. The over/under on total points scored is set at 52.
By The Numbers
Last season, New Orleans was the stronger of the two teams on the offensive side. They ranked third in points per game, averaging 30.4 (31.6 at home). The Texans came in a respectable 12th, averaging 24.1 points per game (24.4 on the road).
On the defensive side, it was the Texans that was the stronger of the two teams. They ranked fifth in opponents points per game, allowing just 19.8 points on average (22.5 on the road). The Saints came in 14th in the NFL, allowing an average of 21.8 points per game (24.5 at home).
Texans Hoping To Start Season Off Right
The Texans were already expected to compete for the AFC South title, but with the unexpected retiring of Andrew Luck, that goal seems all the more intensified. With the Titans being the only team that won their opening week game in the division, the Texans would love to get Monday night’s game.
To do so, they will turn to Watson to lead them. Watson can beat you with both his arms and his legs, and really the only thing that has slowed him in his career has been injuries. Healthy now, though, Watson will look to lead the Texans. Last season, Watson was 345 for 505 for 4,165 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also rushed 99 times for 551 yards and an additional five scores.
His go-to receiver is still Hopkins. Last year, the standout wide receiver made 115 receptions for 1,572 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Brees Looks To Keep Offense Rolling
Year in and year out, Brees continues to show why he is a future Hall-of-Famer. Last season, Brees threw for 3,992 yards, 32 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The Saints have put lots of weapons around him, including extending his main receiver Thomas. Last season, Thomas had 125 catches for 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns.
On the ground, Kamara continues to be the guy. Last season, Kamara rushed 194 times for 883 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also caught 81 receptions for an additional 709 yards and four scores. While the security blanket of Ingram is gone from behind him, the Saints did a nice job of getting Murray to hopefully be able to spell Kamara and give defenses a new look from time to time.
Taking Houston And The Points
I generally have a really hard time betting against the Saints when they are playing at home, but I like the Texans and the points in this one. Houston’s defense is underrated, and a healthy Watson with some tools around him gives the ability to put up points as well. The biggest weakness for the Texans was addressed on the last day. Watson took far too many sacks on a weekly basis, but the Texans are hoping that the addition of Tunsil to protect his blind side will help a little with that. I wouldn’t blame you for taking the Saints at home, but for my money, I am taking the Texans at +6.5.