The New Orleans Saints host the Houston Texans in the first half of a double-header on Monday Night Football. Kickoff is set for 7:05 PM EST on September 9th at Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Oddsmakers opened this game up with the Saints listed as 7-point home favorites. That line has yet to change after early betting, as New Orleans is currently available at -7. The total for this matchup is 53.5 points. Click here for a full look at the Week 1 NFL odds and for more links to our individual game previews.

Saints vs Texans Vegas Game Odds & Betting Preview

New Orleans Saints

The Saints had a very impressive year in 2018, going 13-3 overall during the regular season and finishing first in the NFC South. After a hard-fought win over the Eagles in the divisional round, New Orleans came up just short in the NFC Championship against the Los Angeles Rams after a controversial missed pass interference call. Despite the league admitting that a different call should have been made over a week later, the Saints were still left picking up the pieces after being just minutes away from punching their ticket to Super Bowl LIII. Veteran QB Drew Brees is back under center for New Orleans this season after throwing for almost 4,000 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2018. The rest of the Saints offense also looks quite similar, although they did lost RB Mark Ingram after he signed in Baltimore over the summer. Nevertheless, New Orleans is still loaded with weapons and will likely be one of the NFL’s highest-scoring teams yet again this year.

It was a much more consistent year for the Saints defense in 2018, as they limited opponents to just 21.8 points per game after several poor seasons. New Orleans looked especially strong against the rush, surrendering only 78.3 yards per game on the ground – second best in the NFL behind Chicago.limiting opponents to just 20.9 points per game (7th overall). The Cowboys were a Top-15 team in pretty much every major defensive category, including ranking 8th and 11th overall against the rush and the pass respectively.

Houston Texans

The Texans had a fantastic regular season in 2018, going 11-5 overall and winning the AFC South. However, it all quickly came crumbling down in the post-season after a highly disappointing 21-7 loss in the Wild Card to Indianapolis. There are a lot of fresh faces on both sides of the ball for Houston heading into 2019 after a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins. Even though the defense will certainly miss Jadeveon Clowney, the addition of Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills on offense should pay immediate dividends. Tunsil and recent first-round draft pick Tytus Howard should help solidify an offensive line that gave up far too many sacks last year. Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller are all back in 2019 after playing important roles for an offense that averaged 24.1 points per game in 2018.

The Houston defense also had a very strong 2018 season, limiting opponents to only 19.8 points per game on offense (5th overall). The Texans were especially dominant against the run, allowing just 89.6 yards per game on the ground (4th overall).

Free NFL Betting Predictions and ATS Pick: Texans +7

This matchup should provide plenty of entertainment on Monday night, as both of these teams had excellent 2018 seasons despite their eventual playoff failures. While I think that New Orleans will likely win this game straight up, I’m not so sure that they will be able to cover a full touchdown against a tough Texans squad. Both offenses have a ton of playmakers, with Thomas and Kamara being nicely countered by the dynamic receiving duo of Hopkins and Fuller. Both defenses will certainly have their hands full trying to slow down two elite quarterbacks, especially considering how poorly each team fared against the pass in 2018. Despite ranking inside of the Top 15 scoring defenses, New Orleans and Houston still got torched through the air all season long a year ago. In fact, the Saints had the 29th overall pass defense while the Texans were only slighter higher at 26th overall.

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The biggest reason why I think that Houston can cover on Monday Night revolves around the addition of Tunsil. Deshaun Watson’s biggest issue in 2018 was committing far too many rushed or pressured throws. He simply didn’t have enough time in the pocket before he had to pull the chute and scramble to avoid a sack. If Watson is afforded a few extra seconds to find Hopkins or Fuller down the field, it could be a long evening for a Saints pass defense that gave up 266.9 yards per game in 2018. It is also important to point out the repeated slow starts New Orleans has had over their last few seasons – they are a brutal 0-5 ATS in their last five Week 1 games.  All things considered, I think the road underdog offers the most value in this matchup – Give me the Texans!