By: Austin Weinrich
Spread: Houston (+6.5)
Kickoff: Monday, September 09, 7:10 pm EST, Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Preview: The Houston Texans travel to New Orleans to face the Saints on the first game of the Monday Night Football doubleheader. Both the Texans and Saints boast high power offenses averaging 24.1 and 30.4 points per game respectively. The Texans have been wheeling and dealing one week prior to this game, acquiring Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, Carlos Hyde, and Barkevious Mingo. This should boost the Texans offense to even greater heights, as long as no one throws on Jay Z in the locker room. The Saints on the other hand, were one of the worst officiating calls away from being in the Super Bowl. Quarterback Drew Brees will continue to assault the NFL record books, as he looks to ride off into the sunset with one last Super Bowl victory. This game as all the making of becoming a shootout and turning into an instant classic. So sit back, crack a beer, and watch the ball fly.
The Texans are coming off a 2018 campaign in which they won the AFC South, and went 11-5. Even still, this wasn’t enough to save the job of the General Manager Brian Gaine. The Texans have been operating with an interim general manager since June. This aspect of the front office was on display in full force on roster cut down day, when the Texans made three different trades. This put them in a full win now mode. The big acquisition was obtaining Left Tackle Laremy Tunsil to protect Quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson was sacked an astounding 62 times last year. Watson is hoping this will help him break into the elite Quarterback discussion as he threw for 4165 yards, 26 touchdowns, and ran for 551yards. After the preseason injury of Lamar Miller, the Texans went out and traded for workhorse Carlos Hyde, and Third Down Back Duke Johnson. This should be a nice combination for the Texans, as Johnson offers them a nice change of pace when compared to Hyde who wants to run downhill. The Texans have arguably the best Wide Receiver in the NFL with DeAndre Hopkins, and with the addition of Kenny Stills, there will hopefully be some depth too. Wide Receiver Will Fuller V has great chemistry with Quarterback Deshaun Watson. Fuller has a streak of seven games with a touchdown reception when QB Deshaun Watson starts. In those seven games with Watson, he has recorded 10 receiving touchdowns. On defense, the Texans have star Defensive End JJ Watt. The five time All-Pro appears to be entering the season healthy, and ready to dominate. However, Watt will be without Outside Linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who was traded to the Seattle Seahawks. The Texans also addressed the secondary in the offseason signing Cornerback Bradley Roby, and Safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. This Texan is poised for a deep playoff run, but if anything less than that happens there will be a blood bath in the Texans coaching staff, and front office.
I think everyone knows by now that the Saints got screwed by bad officiating. If you haven’t, I would really investigate that person. They might be an alien. The Saints have spent all off-season complaining to league officials about this. Even getting the NFL to allow coaches to challenge a penalty; this in no way is going to be a “bad idea”. Either way, the Saints were 13-3 last year or return a mostly an intact team. The Saints are led by soon to be Hall of Fame Quarterback Drew Brees; who threw for 3992 yards, 32 touchdowns, and only 5 interceptions all season. All signs point to the 42 year old continuing to do more of the same in the 2019 season. With the departure of Mark Ingram Runningback, Alvin Kamara looks to build on his 2018 stats (883 rushing 14tds, and 709 receiving yards 4tds). Newly signed Latavius Murray will look to steal some redzone touches from Kamara and impact his touchdown totals. At Wide Receiver, the Saints have Michael Thomas, who is a top 5 Wide Receiver, Besides that, they’re very thin to have to rely on Ted Ginn Jr, and Tre’Quan Smith. Look for Tight End Jared Cook to have a big season as Head Coach Sean Payton has “Raved about Cook’s size and catch radius”. On defense, the Saints will rely on getting pressure from Defensive End Cameron Jordon who had 12 sacks last season. The secondary is led by shutdown Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who will face every team’s number one wide receiver, and probably shut them down. Overall, the Saints play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, and as Proverbs 27:17 says “Steel sharpens Steel”. This leads me to believe that the Saints will once again be a NFL playoff team.
Analysis and Prediction:
All eyes will be on the game as the first Monday Night Football game of the season, and I don’t expect it to disappoint. The star power in this game is off the charts; with Watson, Watt, Hopkins, Brees, Kamara, and Thomas. The issues the Texans will face is how fast can the new players get up to speed. Let’s hope Laremy Tunsil has had his head inside his playbook, and not a gasmask. One of the key matchups in this game is going to be as follows: Can the Saints block JJ Watt? Because very few teams have been able to do this one-on-one. The other issue will be can Cornerback Eli Apple cover Will Fuller? My prediction for the game is the Saints will look to run the ball to counter the Texans pass rush and open up the play action pass. On the other side of the ball, I don’t see the Saints being able to slow down the Texans high powered offense, as Will Fuller will torch Eli Apple. I believe that the Saints will win the game but the Texans will cover with a late score. Saints 31-Texans 28