Houston Texans vs New Orleans Saints: Odds and Predictions (NFL Week 1)

John Breech of CBS Sports takes the over and predicts the score as Saints 34, Texans 24. My prediction is take the over, final score Saints 31, Texans 23

How to watch

What: Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints

When: Monday Night Football (game 1 of 2), September 9 at 7:10 p.m. ET

Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana

How (TV): ESPN

Latest Point Spread: Saints -7, Texans + 7

Both teams in this first of two Monday Night Football matchups had a lousy end to the 2018 season – the AFC South winning Houston Texans got snuffed in the Wild Card round of the playoffs by their divisional enemy, the Indianapolis Colts, and the NFC South winning New Orleans Saints got a Super Bowl stolen from them by the referees, whose pass interference no-call was so blatant it caused the league to change the rules.

It will be youth battling experience under center in the cross-conference matchup, with Houston’s third-year quarterback Deshaun Watson healthy and ready to return to his rookie season greatness taking on New Orleans’ 40-year-old leader, Drew Brees, a Super Bowl Champ and MVP quarterback who would love to add another ring to his collection, both players battling defenses that were theoretically improved during the offseason.

Let’s take a quick look at each of these teams now ready for the 2019 season.

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The 0-0-0 Houston Texans:

The Houston Texans won their division last year and have been to the playoffs in three of the last four seasons, including a Wild Card appearance in 2018, so they expect even more in head coach Bill O’Brien’s sixth season at the helm.

The bad news is the Texans just lost their talented defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks, but the good news is they still have end J.J. Watt, the personal wrecking crew who had 16.0 sacks, 25 quarterback hits and 7 forced fumbles all to himself last season.

Houston was 5-3 in away games so they know they can win in New Orleans, especially given that their opponents, the Saints, have lost their last five Week 1 games in a row.

The 0-0-0 New Orleans Saints:

Nobody knows why the New Orleans Saints have started out their last five seasons with a loss – it’s not for lack of desire or talent or a home crowd that shows up to see them play, it’s just a bad team habit that head coach Sean Payton is ready to break against these visiting Houston Texans.

On offense, the capable Saints have many options – deep threat receiver Michael Thomas, dual-threat running back Alvin Kamara and now soft-handed tight end Jared Cook, and on defense, end Cameron Jordan and tackle Sheldon Rankins (when healthy) are ready to do damage in their opponents’ backfields.

New Orleans defends their Superdome well, posting a 6-2 record at home last season, so if they want to break their string of five Week 1 losses they will have to play up to full speed a lot quicker than they have been used to in the past.

What’s at stake:

These two teams have met 4 total times and have split the difference evenly, with New Orleans winning 2 of those games and Houston also winning 2 games.

The Texans lost in their last meeting in 2015 but the Saints won the time before that in 2011.

If the Texans win this matchup, they’ll begin the season 1-0-0 and get a nice head start in the Andrew Luck-free AFC South, a division they have won three of the last four seasons.

But if the Saints come out on top, they’ll begin their trek back to the Super Bowl earlier than usual, and their 1-0-0 record will remind the other NFC South teams exactly who the powerhouse to beat will be once again.

Questions to answer…

Who’s favored to win this Week 1 Texans-Saints matchup?

Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?

Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?

We’re going to compare the Texans and the Saints next and attempt to answer those questions and more.

OFFENSIVE STATS COMPARISON

Houston Texans Overall Offense

  • Ranked 15th overall in 2018
  • Ranked TBD overall in 2019

Passing Attack: Houston’s passing attack was ranked 17th last season, averaging 236.3 yards through the air per game.

Watson through for an 11th ranked 4,165 yards, and he connected for 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, and that was despite enduring a league-leading 62 sacks, a front line weakness the front office tried to address in the offseason by drafting left guard Tytus Howard.

The Texans main passing target is DeAndre Hopkins, who caught 115 passes last season for 1,572 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Rushing attack: Now that last year’s starting running back, Lamar Miller (torn ACL) is out for the season, Texans general manager Brian Gaine has tried to fill the hole with two former Cleveland Browns runners.

Starting now is pass-catching back Duke Johnson, who was traded during the offseason after the Browns’ running back room got too full to give him the proper number of touches.

Backing him up is Carlos Hyde, who went from the Browns to the Jacksonville Jaguars last season and still ran the ball a total of 172 times for 571 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Houston Offensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 1: center Greg Mancz (ankle), wide receiver Keke Coutee (ankle) and guard Zach Fulton (toe)

INJURY NOTE: tight ends Kahale Warring (concussion) and Jordan Thomas (cracked rib) were both placed on injured reserve.

New Orleans Saints Overall Offense

  • Ranked 8th overall in 2018
  • Ranked TBD overall in 2019

Passing Attack: Last year, Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for the least amount of yards (3,992) since his 2005 season, though he connected for 32 touchdowns (T-6th most in the NFL in 2018) and just 5 interceptions (a career low).

It helps to have receivers Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn, and now that newly acquired tight end Jared Cook is on the Saints’ roster, add another sure-handed target for Brees.

Plus running back Alvin Kamara can catch balls, too, last season pulling in 81 receptions for 709 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Rushing Attack: Speaking of Kamara, out of the Saints’ backfield he ran the ball 194 times for 883 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Now Latavius Murray will be backing him up, recently acquired to provide a hard hitting alternative to Kamara’s dodgy speed now that Mark Ingram is no longer on the team.

New Orleans offensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 1: fullback Zach Line (knee)

INJURY NOTES: N/A

>> OFFENSIVE ADVANTAGE: Drew Brees and his New Orleans Saints offense are a more experienced, well-oiled machine.

DEFENSIVE STATS COMPARISON

Houston Texans Overall Defense

  • Ranked 12th overall in 2018
  • Ranked TBD overall in 2019

Pass coverage: The Texans were tied for 11th best passing defense last season after only allowing opponents to throw for an average of 200 yards per game.

Houston intercepted the ball 15 times, tied for ninth most in the league, and sacked opponents’ quarterbacks 43 times, tied for 11th most overall.

Run coverage: Houston was excellent against the run last season, only allowing opposing teams to rush for an average of 82.7 yards per game, third best in the NFL.

Teams scored an average of 19.8 points per game against the Texans, 316 total points in 2018.

Texans Defensive Players to watch:

Besides Watt (see his eye-popping 2018 numbers listed above), it will be interesting to watch Angelo Blackson, who will be doing his best to replace Jadeveon Clowney on the other edge.

Inside linebacker Zach Cunningham is a terrific tackler, with 107 of them last season along with 6 passes defended and an interception.

Free safety Justin Reid is dangerous in the secondary, with 3 picks last year and 13 passes defended and 88 tackles.

Texans defensive injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 17: no defensive Texans are currently listed as injured

INJURY NOTES: defensive end Ira Savage-Lewis (undisclosed) was waived/injured by the Texans

New Orleans Saints Overall Defense

  • Ranked 14th overall in 2018
  • Ranked TBD overall in 2019

Pass coverage: A big beef with the Saints last season was their lack of pass coverage, ranking 29th in the league in that category after allowing opponents to throw for an average of 268.9 yards per game.

The secondary had 12 interceptions (T-18th most) and the front line had 49 total sacks (T-5th most).

Run coverage: The Saints excelled against the run last season, allowing just 80.2 yards on the ground per game, second best in the league.

Opponents scored an average of 22.1 points per game against New Orleans, 353 points total in 2018.

Saints Defensive Players to watch:

Tough to get by linebacker Demario Davis, who had 110 tackles last season in addition to 5.0 sacks.

Defensive end Cameron Jordan is one of the best in the NFL, last season piling up 12.0 sacks by himself, with 49 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Cornerback Eli Apple is a good one to keep an eye on in the Saints’ secondary, with two picks last year along with 11 passes defended and 52 total tackles.

Saints Defensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 1: defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (hamstring), linebackers Craig Robertson (hamstring) and Alex Anzalone (shoulder) and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (hamstring)

INJURY NOTE: linebacker Will Compton (undisclosed) was placed on injured reserve

>> DEFENSIVE ADVANTAGE: The Houston Texans, even without Clowney, are better on this side of the ball.

Special Teams Stats Comparison

Punters

Houston’s punter, Trevor Daniel, is in his second NFL season, bot with the Texans, and last year he punted 74 times for a net average of 39.1 yards per punt, 24th best in the league.

New Orleans’ punter, Thomas Morstead, is in his eleventh NFL season, all with the Saints, and last year he punted 43 times for a net average of 43.2 yards per punt, which was the best in the league.

Placekickers

Houston’s Hawaiian born placekicker, Ka’imi Fairbairn, just had a second-round restricted free agent tender placed on him in March.

Fairbairn was 37-for-42 last season (the most number of field goals made in the league), his longest a 54-yarder, and he missed two extra point attempts (39/41).

New Orleans’ rookie placekicker, Wil Lutz, is in his fourth NFL season, all with the Saints, and just signed a five-year contract extension worth $20.25 million, making him the highest paid kicker in the league.

Lutz was 28-of-30 last season, his longest a 54-yarder, and he missed just one extra point attempt all season (52/53).

Punt Returners

Houston’s punt returner, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, was ranked 27th in punt return average last season.

In 2018, Carter returned 16 punts for 146 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 9.1 yards per return, his longest for 30 yards.

New Orleans’ punt returner, running back Alvin Kamara, was ranked 46th in average punt return yardage.

Kamara returned 12 punts for 82 yards , averaging 6.8 yards per return, his longest for 16 yards.

>> SPECIAL TEAM ADVANTAGE: New Orleans – their veterans will excel in this aspect of the game.

Final Game Analysis

Why will the Texans win this game?

This is a solid Houston Texans team that is ready to pick up exactly where it left off last season, which is winning games, even on the road.

And don’t forget, the Saints have lost their last five opening games in a row, so all Watson and his Texans have to do is play hard enough to make that half a decade old Saints’ trend continue to roll.

The Texans will defeat the Saints on Monday night because after losing their first three games last season, they need this early win way more than the Saints do and they will find a way (Watson to Hopkins) to earn it.

Why will the Saints win this game?

Forget the past, these New Orleans Saints will finally win a Week 1 matchup because their quarterback is a (relatively) old man and by the time the end of the season rolls around his arm might not be as strong (or accurate) as it is right now.

Overall, the Saints are a slightly better team than the Texans, so if they can execute their game plan they should win, especially given the noise of their hometown crowd.

Of course, that’s always a big IF, but Brees knows his NFL time is running out and there is no room for slow starts at this point in his career, so count on the crafty veteran and his crew to show a huge sense of urgency to get the early job done.

>> THIS GAME GOES TO THE: New Orleans Saints – this time they will finally break their nasty Week 1 losing trend.

Current odds listed for Week 1: Texans vs. Saints

If you live in New Jersey and want to bet on futures in the NFL you can do so on 888sport.

Check out the latest odds here.

Good Luck!

Money Line:

SportsbookHouston TexansNew Orleans SaintsLink
888Sport NJ+235-305

* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER

Point Spread:

SportsbookHOU Texans +6.5NO Saints -6.5Link
888Sport NJ-106-115

* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER

Total Points:

SportsbookOver 52.5Under 52.5Link
888Sport NJ-110-110

* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER

John Breech of CBS Sports takes the over and predicts the score as Saints 34, Texans 24

My prediction is take the over, final score Saints 31, Texans 23

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