Our 5 Favorite Picks for Broncos-Raiders & Texans-Saints on MNF

Our 5 Favorite Picks for Broncos-Raiders & Texans-Saints on MNF article feature image
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Photo credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Joe Flacco

  • Our experts reveal how they're betting the Monday Night Football doubleheader on ESPN.
  • See their five favorite picks for Texans vs. Saints (7:10 p.m. ET) and Broncos vs. Raiders (8:20 p.m. ET).

We close out Week 1 with a Monday Night Football doubleheader featuring a potential shootout at the Superdome followed by an AFC West showdown.

The New Orleans Saints (-6.5) host the Houston Texans in a 52.5-point total game — the highest of opening week. The Oakland Raiders, meanwhile, will cap a drama-filled week as home underdogs against the Denver Broncos (-2.5), who will be making their regular-season debut with Joe Flacco at quarterback and new head coach Vic Fangio on the sideline.

Our staff reveals how they’re betting both games, featuring their five favorite picks.

All odds above as of early Monday and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

Monday Night Football Odds

  • Odds: Saints -6.5; Broncos -2.5
  • Totals: 52.5 HOU-NO; 42.5 DEN-OAK

Matthew Freedman: Texans-Saints Over 52.5

The Superdome is the NFL equivalent of Coors Field.

Offense, offense, offense.

Since 2006, the Saints have scored 30.1 points per game at home in the regular season with Drew Brees vs. 26.0 on the road, and that difference is not surprising: Brees has some of the most notable home/road splits of any NFL passer.

On top of that, the Saints are one of the few teams in the league to allow more points at home than away. Under head coach Sean Payton, they have allowed 23.7 points per game at the Superdome and 23.3 on the road.

Both the Saints and Texans were top-12 last year with 31.5 and 25.1 points per game, and they will likely be aggressive because of the offensive pressure to score they will put on each other.

With Brees, the Superdome over is 64-44-2 (including postseason), good for an A-graded 16.1% return on investment (per Bet Labs).

Sonny Banks: Texans-Saints Under 52.5 

On the offensive side of the ball, we’re accustomed to seeing Sean Payton’s creativity in New Orleans, but I do think that we will see a relatively watered-down offensive gameplan in Week 1. Why? For starters, someone other than Max Unger will be snapping the ball to Drew Brees for the first time since 2015. Rookie Erik McCoy will make his debut start, and while all the reports from camp have been positive, I do expect it will take him some time to grasp the complexity of the Saints offense.

The Saints’ diminished passing game is also a factor here: Last season it ranked 12th overall, the lowest in Brees’ career. The accuracy is not the issue, as Brees completed 74% of his passes last season, throwing 32 touchdowns compared to 5 INTs. But these numbers also indicate that the 40-year-old QB has not been throwing the deep ball as much as he did earlier in his career. I do expect to see accurate, intermediate throws that will move the ball down the field, eating significant clock along the way.

Also factoring into my Under 52.5 bet here is the Texans’ improved pass defense. They got torched through the air last season (28th-ranked passing defense), but new additions Bradley Roby and Tashaun Gipson are significant upgrades.

Check out more of my reasoning for taking Under 52.5 here.

Chad Millman: Texans +6.5 at Saints

Full Disclosure, I loved this bet when it was Texans +7, which it had been since lines first opened several months ago. In the past few days it’s moved in Houston’s direction, with 63% of the money backing the Texans.

Even though the best of the numbers is no longer available, I think the Texans are still the right side. All Watson did last season — while nursing an injury that made it challenging tot breathe — was throw for more than 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing nearly 70% of his passes.

Watson is at this best in the following circumstances: High-scoring games and games in the spotlight. And, as old man Freedman points out, this game is primed to go over. It also happens to be in the spotlight.

So, for me, this isn’t as much of a bet on the Texans as it is on Watson.

Deshaun-Watson-Will-Fuller-1
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Deshaun Watson, Will Fuller

Scott T. Miller: Texans WR Will Fuller Under 55.5 Receiving Yards (-115)

This isn’t one of the biggest edges in our FantasyLabs props tool, but with the Texans’ crowded passing game, the under has some value.

Coutee and Kenny Stills are both expected to play and DeAndre Hopkins and Duke Johnson will both get a fair share of targets, giving Watson five viable pass-catchers.

One big play could very well put this in danger, so tread lightly, but the under should hit here more often than not.

Matt LaMarca: Broncos WR DaeSean Hamilton Under 3.5 Receptions (-115)

Hamilton was thrust into a big role for the Broncos at the end of last season, earning an average of 9.5 targets per game over the past four weeks. That said, he was pretty nonexistent until the injury to Emmanuel Sanders. Hamilton saw just seven total targets through his first 10 games.

He figures to be a larger factor in the offense this season, but he still looks like the third receiver option at best for Flacco. Hamilton saw just two targets on Flacco’s 16 attempts during the preseason, ranking behind Sanders, Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant.

Even if Hamilton does see more targets than expected, there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to take advantage of them. Flacco graded out as the No. 22 QB according to Pro Football Focus last season.

I committed to team #BetTheUnder this season, and this looks like a good one. I’d be willing to play it up to -130.