Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints
Time: 4:10 p.m. PT
Two explosive offenses. Indoors. The bright lights of Monday Night Football to cap off the season’s opening week. Don’t overthink this one: Houston and New Orleans both have heavy artillery and are each in a spot to unleash it this evening.
Entering his 19th season, Brees still sits among the elite NFL quarterbacks. Despite being 40 years old, the NFL’s career leader in passing yards and completions is coming off one of his finest years to date.
Brees wrapped up the 2018 season with an incredible 115.7 passer rating, the highest such mark of his career. He also remarkably completed 74.4 percent of his throws, setting a new NFL record. Only five of those were picked off by the other team, which is notable because that represents the fewest interceptions Brees has thrown in one campaign.
With pretty much the same supporting cast (minus Mark Ingram being replaced by Latavius Murray) around him, another strong showing from Brees this year seems academic.
Led by the future Hall-of-Famer, the Saints regularly rank among the highest-scoring teams in all of football. In fact, they’ve placed in the top four in each of the last three seasons — including a franchise-best 31.5 points per game a season ago — and unsurprisingly, they’ve consistently scored even more at home.
Last year with Brees under center, New Orleans put up a whopping 36.6 points on average (not including playoffs) when playing in front of Saints faithful at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. They averaged 34 points at home the year prior and 31 during the 2016 season. In this particular affair, they’re getting a defense that might not be as good after dealing away Jadeveon Clowney.
It’s also worth pointing out how much a Brees-led offense has shined when suiting up at the Superdome for a Monday Night Football affair. During his 13 years with the team, Brees has started in 14 home games on Monday nights, leading the Saints to 35.5 points per game in those matchups. Furthermore, he’s failed to put up fewer than 27 on the scoreboard in the last 11 such games.
Can the Texans keep up? Of course they have the ability to, but with the over/under being where it’s at, simply hanging around may be all that’s needed.
There should be no question about Deshaun Watson’s talents. The former Clemson Tiger starred in college and has continued to shine in the NFL, getting set for his third professional season.
Watson is coming off a terrific first full campaign in which he registered an impressive 103.1 passer rating and threw 26 touchdowns to only nine interceptions. He also completed 68.3 percent of his passes and averaged more than 260 yards through the air each week, seemingly picking up where he left off from his abbreviated (due to injury) freshman year.
The loss of Lamar Miller (torn ACL) stings but the Texans acquired someone more than capable of filling that void in Duke Johnson. If anything, it might lead to a more passing-based attack, something that’s only beneficial for overs.
People forget that Watson was also missing some key weapons as he crafted together his excellent 2018 performance. Now, he has all of his talented receiving corps healthy — and with another useful target in former Saint Kenny Stills. The addition of offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil can only help in pass protection as well.
I feel much more comfortable having this total at the key number of 51, which saves you in case the final score winds up 34-17/31-20ish, so it’s recommended you buy a point like I did. Play: OVER 52
Sunday’s Result: Ravens-Dolphins Under 40 (loss)
Zylbert’s NFL Over/Under Betting Record*: 0-1, -1.1 unit
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit