Houston Texans vs. New Orleans Saints Prediction ATS
Houston Texans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Football Week 1
Date and Time:Monday, September 9 at 7:10pm ET
Point Spread:HOU +7/NO -7 (BetAnySports)
The long wait is over as NFL football kicks off this week. Every game is big but Monday Night Football still brings that little extra sizzle, and we get a great Week 1 match-up when the Texans head to New Orleans to take on the Saints. Houston has been busy in the personnel department with a flurry of recent trades, and they feel those moves address the few weak spots on a team that went 11-5 last year. New Orleans is one of the most stable organizations in the league with Sean Payton and Drew Brees both entering their 14th year with the franchise. The Saints were one game away from the Super Bowl after a 13-3 season and again are set to contend in a stacked NFC.
For most teams, the end of preseason is only about settling on the last few players to make the 53-man roster, but Houston made multiple big-time trades. The Texans first shipped off DE Jadeveon Clowney but more meaningfully completed a second trade to bring in T Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills from Miami. Tunsil is a much-needed upgrade on an offensive line that allowed the most sacks (62) in the league last year and Stills provides a veteran insurance policy if Will Fuller remains injury-prone. The Texans also worked a deal to land RB Carlos Hyde from the Chiefs to solidify a backfield that just lost Lamar Miller to the IR. The biggest beneficiary of these moves is QB DeShaun Watson as Tunsil will keep him upright more often and let improve on his 4,165 passing yards and 31 total touchdowns from 2018.
Saints O v. Texans D
Both teams are solid on both sides of the ball, but each has a premier unit. The Saints offense ranked 8th in total yards and 3rd in points per game while the Texans defense was the 3rd best run-stopping unit and allowed 19.8 points per game, good for 4th in the league. Houston’s pass-rush, led by J.J. Watt (16 sacks in 2018) can be a handful, but the New Orleans allowed the second-fewest sacks last season, and Brees knows how to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Alvin Kamara scored 14 rushing touchdowns last year but really excelled as part of the passing game with 80+ receptions in each of his first two seasons. Michael Thomas is coming off his best year with 125 catches, and 1,405 yards in 2018 and New Orleans is excited about former Oakland TE Jared Cook’s potential impact. Brees and that Saints passing game will go against a Houston D that ranked just 28th in passing yards allowed. In the strength-on-strength assessment, it looks like New Orleans has a decent advantage.
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The Other Side(s)
Forgive me for calling the Houston O and Saints D the secondary units, especially as this match-up could be the swing factor on Monday night. DeShaun Watson has perhaps the best receiver in the league in DeAndre Hopkins. He finished 2018 with 115 catches and 1,572 yards and has at least 11 touchdowns in each of the three seasons where he totaled at least 90 catches. Will Fuller starts across from Hopkins and has been special with 11 touchdowns in just 17 career games but has missed as much time as he has played and is again nursing a hamstring injury. Keke Coutee is expected to assume a larger role this season, but he is questionable for Week 1 with an ankle injury. That receiving group will need to be solid as the loss of Lamar Miller affects the 8th best rushing offense from last season. Duke Johnson will see more work, but his strong suit is in the receiving game with nearly half of his career touches and eight of his thirteen touchdowns coming on receptions. Carlos Hyde looks like a pounding runner but hasn’t done anything more than 3.6 yards per carrying over the last three seasons. The Saints were 2nd in run-stopping last year, so more pressure falls on Watson’s passing shoulder, but he should see success if New Orleans hasn’t shored up the 29th ranked pass defense from 2018. Cam Jordan has 25 sacks over the last two seasons and could be the X-factor when he is on the field. The advantage to the Texans if they can keep Jordan away from Watson.
The Saints have always enjoyed a strong home-field advantage but are 0-4 against the spread in the last four at The Superdome. As bad as that seems, the Texans are riding a worse streak with just three ATS wins in their last eleven on the road. Houston is also 3-10 against the spread in their last 13 contests on Monday Night. New Orleans has used that high octane offense to power the over to a 4-1 record in their last five on MNF. We still have a long way to go, but the early betting has seen 56% of the bets going in the Saints direction with six of ten bets coming in for the over.
Count me in for the over as well as I think Brees and Watson will be able to work against bottom-third pass defenses. Both teams have elite playmakers, and this one might look like a video game early. The winning team is likely the one that made the better adjustments at half time, and there are few coaching staffs that have an advantage over Sean Payton and his assistants. Latavius Murray is in his first season with the Saints, and he takes over the middle run game role. He could play a significant role if New Orleans is looking to run out the clock and Murray is a proven finisher with 26 rushing touchdowns over the last three seasons.
If you are all over the Saints and want to lay the points here, I am not really going to argue with you. I think New Orleans gets up early and looks good, but I would be scared of a double-digit lead being wrecked by a late Houston score. I am predicting a 31-26 New Orleans win so again, I am happy taking the over, and I will see how my Sunday slate goes before going big on this game. Houston and the points would be my preference but prepare yourself for a nerve-wracking, all-nighter kind of game. Its Week 1, what else would you expect?
Your Ted’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Houston
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