Week 1 of the NFL season doubles your pleasure on Monday night, with a pair of primetime games. The first – and most interesting – is a battle in the Big Easy, where the host New Orleans Saints welcome the Houston Texans.
Sports Handicappers opened the Saints as 7-point favorite for this season debut while the total is the highest Over/Under odds on the Week 1 board at 53.5 points. We look at the top betting angles to add to your handicapping for this Monday Night Football matchup:
Saints and sinners
New Orleans enters the 2019 with revenge on its mind after getting cheated in the NFC Championship Game versus the L.A. Rams due to a missed pass interference call. Don’t be surprised if you see Drew Brees and the Saints receiving corps not only testing this Texans secondary but the game officials with some early deep strikes downfield.
The Saints were a more ground orientated team in 2018 but could take to the air on most snaps in 2019. Michael Thomas resigned a big deal with the team and is joined by speedster Ted Ginn Jr, and Tre’Quan Smith as well as pass-catching running back Alvin Kamara, who will see the bulk of action in the backfield with Mark Ingram signing with Baltimore.
Texans take to the air
While the Saints are dangerous through the air, the Texans may be just as capable passing the football. Quarterback Deshaun Watson enters his third season with a stack receiving corps, headlined by WR DeAndre Hopkins. Behind the All-Pro is Will Fuller, Keke Coutee, and the recently acquired Kenny Stills. That depth should help protect the passing game from injuries, which plagued their depth chart last season.
Houston’s running back situation is not what the team would have imagined enter the 2019 schedule. No. 1 runner Lamar Miller torn his ACL in the Week 3 of the preseason, leaving Duke Johnson (acquired in a deal with Cleveland this summer) and veteran Carlos Hyde (just picked up in a deal with Kansas City. While the rushing offense finds its identity, expect the bulk of the snaps to end up in the passing game.
What about the defense?
We’ve talked a lot about both teams’ offenses, but each squad boast a capable stop unit with playmakers on either sideline. The New Orleans defense was a difference maker in 2018, but did give up big yardage to opposing quarterbacks. The Saints combated that with 49 sacks and 24 takeaways.
Houston was cut from a similar cloth, giving up substantial yardage through the air, yet recording 43 sacks and 29 takeaways. The Texans just traded pass-rushing linebacker Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle, losing a player who totaled 18.5 sacks in his last 21 games. This game may come down to which team can tally the most sacks and force the most turnovers.