Texans at Saints Picks & Odds: Is New Orleans Undervalued?

Texans at Saints Picks & Odds: Is New Orleans Undervalued? article feature image

Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Drew Brees

Texans vs. Saints Betting Odds

  • Odds: Saints -6.5
  • Total: 52
  • Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ESPN

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

The highest total of Week 1 belongs to New Orleans and Houston.

Drew Brees and the Saints host Deshaun Watson and the Texans for a Monday Night Football showdown in the Superdome. Who has the edge in their primetime matchup? Is there any value in the over/under?

Our experts break this game down from injuries and mismatches to their picks and more.

Monday Night Football Injury Report

The Saints get the nod as the healthier team for this Monday night tussle as most of their injuries revolve around rotational defensive players. Meanwhile, the main concern for the Texans is slot-man Keke Coutee, who has a serious high-ankle sprain.

He’s practiced in a limited fashion all week, but head coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t sound optimistic about Coutee’s status. Even if he’s ruled out, the Texans have a powerful trio of DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Kenny Stills for 3-WR sets. Justin Bailey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Saints -5.5
  • Projected Total: 52.5

The Texans were a B in my Buy/Sell Ratings while the Saints received an F. I have the Saints as 5.5-points favorites here, so the -6.5 line is a bit too high for all the reasons I discussed in my Buy/Sell Ratings piece.

I took the Texans at the key number of +7 here, but still see value at the current line. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatches

Saints’ Run D vs. Texans’ Run Game

Both of these teams finished in the top three in Football Outsiders’ rushing DVOA a season ago: Houston No. 1 and New Orleans No. 3. The difference is the Saints have some guy named Alvin Kamara, who has a legitimate case for being the best pound-for-pound back in the league. Saints backs rattled off 4.6 yards per carry last season while Texans backs barely got four (4.01).

The Texans backfield will feature Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde, who weren’t even on the roster at the start of August.

Acquiring left tackle Laremy Tunsil from the Dolphins fixed a longtime trouble spot for Houston, but it’s more of an upgrade to the pass protection. Tunsil earned a 79.2 Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade last season, tied for 16th among tackles, but graded out at just 62.3 in the run game (40th).

First-round pick Tytus Howard is a tackle who will start at left guard, and the transition has not gone smoothly: The 322-pounder mustered a grade of just 40.8 on 29 preseason run-blocking snaps, the seventh-worst of 91 qualifiers at the position.

With the line in flux, Houston head coach Bill O’Brien has increasing turned to using blockers over pass catchers at tight end — journeyman Darren Fells is listed as the starter, and the team just signed Logan Paulsen (whose just sounds like a blocker).

Hyde just got there after getting cast aside by the 80th team in the past three years, and Johnson missed time with an injury this preseason. It will take time for them and the line to gel.

But with little hope in the way of mustering a viable rushing attack, this mismatch might counterintuitively work in Houston’s favor — particularly if second-year slot threat Keke Coutee (ankle) can give it a go — which brings us to another mismatch.

Texans WRs vs. Saints CBs

Bailey already mentioned the trio of Hopkins, Fuller and Stills (who I would rate as poor-man’s Fuller). Being able to pair them with Coutee would create a dangerous 4-WR set. Add in Johnson as a moveable chess piece (who can also line up as a slot receiver should Coutee sit), and the Saints defense might play true to its No. 22 ranking in DVOA against the pass last season.

DeAndre Hopkins-Will Fuller-Keke Coutee
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Keke Coutee

Third-year pro Marshon Lattimore is a talented corner, but he made a habit of getting roasted by Hopkins-caliber receivers last season. Veteran Patrick Robinson was supposed to win a spot in sub packages but instead spent the preseason getting lit up, so now the team might have to use rookie Chauncey Gardner more than it would like.

As it stands, the Saints will go to bat in Week 1 with a secondary featuring three starting cornerbacks who finished in the top 15 in yardage allowed in coverage last season per PFF: Eli Apple (first), Lattimore (seventh) and P.J. Williams (15th).

And remember, Tunsil being in the fold should allow Watson more time to throw. Coutee or not, it could be bombs away. Chris Raybon

Expert Picks

Chad Millman: Texans +6.5

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.

Matthew Freedman: Over 52

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 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 63-44-2 (including postseason), good for an A-graded 15.4% 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.

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