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Houston Texans vs. New Orleans Saints Point Spread - Pick

Houston Texans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
Week 1 NFL
Date/Time: Monday Night Football, September 9, 2019 at 7:10PM EST
Where: Mercedes Benz Super dome, New Orleans, Louisiana
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: HOU +7/NO -7
Over/Under Total: 53.5

The Houston Texans come into the Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints in the first MNF game of week one. Both teams look to get a good start to a season that holds promise for both. The Saints saw a 13-win season in 2018 return them to the limelight. And it appears that bad fortune at least played a role in keeping them out of the Super Bowl. They look to make it one better this season. Houston, meanwhile, has hopes of their own after making it to the playoffs last season. It won't be easy in this spotlight game away from home against a feared Saints bunch. Which team is more likely to hit the ground running in week one?

Perhaps the perceived gulf between these two teams is overstated. We see the Saints, a powerful team with an all-time great at QB, needing a bad call by the ref to keep them out of the Super Bowl. The Texans, meanwhile, faded quickly from last year's postseason and enter this season an afterthought in many people's minds. But they are still an 11-win team from last season, winners of a tough AFC South division. Some bad things have happened to them personnel-wise, but they're a good team—a team where it's not always easy to describe why they are doing so well. They're more of a low-key team, with great coaching and enough horses to get the job done more often than not.

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Is it possible that Drew Brees is getting old? There was a time when you didn't see 40-year old quarterbacks and if you did, they rarely shined. Over the bulk of last season to start, he was through the roof, putting up ungodly numbers. Over the late stretch of the season, we saw Brees come back to the pack of his peers some and play far less effectively. While he is expected to play well this season, could we see some of the slippage that he showed at the end of last season or will he be refreshed and start looking like the old Brees again? Being at the Superdome helps, as does facing an out-of-conference team with a lot of players who have never played in this building.

While the credit of a great Saints' offense usually goes to Brees and his considerable weaponry at the skill positions, the line is what really makes it all come together. They are one of, if not the best, line at springing loose big runs and keeping Brees protected. Now, losing a cemented and excellent center in Max Unger won't help, but everything else is intact and this is a line Brees can rely upon to help him and his weapons get the job done. Michael Thomas is one of the top receivers in the league, with Ted Ginn, Tre'Quan Smith, and tight end Jared Cook joining the team as a potentially big-time weapon. Also aiding in the ball-catching department is explosive Alvin Kamara, who might see more touches with Mark Ingram departed. They added Latavius Murray to give them another viable back. As we saw last season, they didn't lack for personnel that can make it happen.

The Saints' look for more defense this season, though it needn't be great. If it were just above average, it could pay off big. Up-front, they're pretty good at stopping the run with Malcom Brown on the interior, and Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport patrolling the end position. AJ Klein, Alex Anzalone, and Damario Davis give them some continuity in the middle. They would like to have more rigidity in the secondary, with Eli Apple and Marshon Lattimore at corner, along with safeties Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams. They make a lot of plays, though their overall pass coverage sometimes lags. And when about to face a Houston team that can air it out some, that looms as a matchup concern.

Deshaun Watson enters his third season for the Texans and a boost in play is not out of the question. After throwing for 4000+ yards last season, he is a big talent who could be stepping into elite status before long. But for a young quarterback who has already shown he can get hurt, there are a few troubling issues. Losing RB Lamar Miller can't help, regardless of what you thought about Miller's overall viability. Watson will now depend on Duke Johnson and that's a bit dicey as a featured back. What really hurts this offense is their offensive line. Last season, they allowed the most sacks and QB hits of any unit. Drafting two tackles in the first two rounds could help that, as will acquiring Matt Kalil (out), if he can get healthy. The line could come around, but it might not be ready to hit the ground running for this game.

Despite issues in the run game and along the front, Watson does have nice weaponry with which to deploy aerially. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the top receivers in the league and an absolute asset for Watson. How much they can get from Will Fuller and Keke Coutee (questionable) will go a long way toward determining where this offense ends up. There is always a chance a youngster can step in and provide more than what was expected. And this team always seems to get more out of itself than what appears on paper. Still, there are some questions that loom on this offense that will need to play out a bit before we can get a solid read on it. And playing not the most-feared defense in week one could be of some benefit. In fact, it's not hard to imagine a decent day from this group. Still, they lack balance after being very air-heavy last season and losing your top tailback doesn't help that. Nor does having Hopkins so far ahead of the rest of the pack of receivers on the squad. They need a star or two to develop.

But how will the Houston defense stand up against the powerful home Saints offense? Up front, there is legit talent with JJ Watt looking to reclaim his throne as the league's very top defender. He had 16 sacks last season. Run-stopper DJ Reader is back. Whitney Mercilus, Benadrick McKinney, and Zack Cunningham man the middle, which is strong. And they're hoping the secondary can reclaim some of its past glory with corners Johnathan Joseph and Bradley Roby, along with safeties Justin Reid and Tashaun Gipson.

Again, the Texans are a pretty easy team to underrate and I think that's reflected a bit in the spread here in this week one matchup. This is a playoff team. And with a defense that doesn't always rank highly across all areas, along with an offense that lacks a run game, an offensive line, or a lot of weaponry outside Hopkins, it's not always easy to quantify how they put together winning seasons. I see Houston showing that low-key overall capability in week one, as they keep this one respectable. I'm taking the Texans and the points.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Houston Texans plus 7 points. Bet the Texans vs. Saints MNF game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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