The preseason is finally over and it’s time for real football. This exciting matchup features a sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback (in what could be his last season) for the Saints in Drew Brees against an up-and-coming star quarterback for the Texans in Deshaun Watson.
The Texans are coming off an offseason that saw them trade their star linebacker, Jadeveon Clowney, while upgrading on the offensive side of the ball. Although they did lose Lamar Miller for the season, the Texans acquired Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, Duke Johnson, Jr., and Carlos Hyde to bolster their offense.
Their recent acquisitions make for a very intriguing matchup. The Saints’ defense will now have to attempt to defend seemingly unguardable wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, and two speedsters in Will Fuller and Kenny Stills. The Saints’ secondary ranked 29th in passing yards allowed per game last season, allowing 368.9 yards per game. This does not bode well for the Saints going up against receivers of this caliber.
As if this was not a difficult task enough, they will also have to keep an eye on the versatile back, and new starter, Duke Johnson, who has excelled as both a runner and pass-catcher in his short career. The Saints ranked second against the run last season, allowing only 80.2 rushing yards per game. They trailed only the Bears, who allowed 80.0 rushing yards per game. It may be more difficult to replicate this stat without Sheldon Rankins, who is likely out for the first few weeks of the season as he recovers from a torn Achilles.
Although the Texans have an elite offense, the Saints’ offense is nothing to scoff at, either. The offensive roster looks very similar to their 2018 roster that ranked third in points per game, averaging 31.5 PPG and trailing only the Rams and Chiefs. The loss of Mark Ingram may hurt, but Latavius Murray has been very serviceable as a complementary back, and even a starter, throughout his career. He will be a great change-of-pace back behind Alvin Kamara.
Another huge offensive upgrade that the Saints addressed in the offseason came at the tight end position. They signed Jared Cook, who had a breakout year with the Raiders in 2018. Cook looks to help an offense that was already elite before he joined it.
The Texans’ defense finished slightly better than the Saints’ against the pass in 2018, ranking 28th and giving up 260.4 passing yards per game. Against the run, they finished just behind the Saints, ranking third and giving up 82.7 rushing yards per game. Both of these averages could trend in the wrong direction in 2019, as they lost Jadeveon Clowney and Tyrann Mathieu on the defensive side of the ball.
This game looks like it will end up being more of an offensive battle, but it would not be a surprise to see the defenses making some big plays throughout the game. On the Saints’ defense, keep an eye on Marshon Lattimore, Cameron Jordan, and Marcus Williams to make some game-changing plays. For the Texans, watch out for J.J. Watt (obviously) and Justin Reid to make big plays throughout the game.
Who has the advantage?
Pass Defense: Saints
Run Defense: Saints
Date: Monday, September 9, 2019
Start time: 6:10 pm CST
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
TV Info: ESPN
New Orleans -7.0
New Orleans -300
Expect an offensive showing with elite offenses taking the field against two defenses that struggled against the pass last year. The over is the safer bet in this one, along with the Texans covering the spread. This should be a very close game, as both teams play very well on turf with their speed and will be looking to start the season on the right track.
Two elite quarterbacks, two elite offenses, and two decent defenses who both struggle against the pass last season. Expect this game to be a shootout, and potentially a contest in which the last team with the ball wins. Or possibly the team with one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. The Saints’ defense plays better at home, and they should step up when it matters the most. The Saints should pull this one out in a very tightly-contested game that comes down to the wire on Monday Night Football.