Tuesday 10 September 01:00
NFL Monday night football returns this week and the New Orleans Saints will be aiming to overcome an opening day jinx against the Houston Texans
Home Teams lead Head to Head
Although the Saints and the Texans are regular pre-season sparring partners, this is a cross-conference match-up that isn’t seen too often in the regular season. In fact, they’ve only met four times, with each game going to the home side. Last time this fixture came up in the NFL was in 2016 when the Texans emerged victorious by 24-6.
Saints Tipped to Start Strong
Despite being one of the strongest teams in the NFL in recent seasons, the New Orleans Saints have a surprisingly poor record in the opening game of the campaign. In fact, they haven’t started 1-0 since the 2013 season. But statistical streaks like that are made to be broken, and according to the bookmakers, the Saints are the 7/19 favourites to win this one.
After the loss of Max Unger to retirement and Sheldon Rankin’s injury, there was some speculation over whether the Saints would have it all their own way in the NFC South this season, but the opening weekend has been kind to Drew Brees and co, with the Falcons, Panthers and Buccaneers all falling to defeat, and a big victory against Houston here would lay down an early marker.
Tougher for Texans
The Texans topped the AFC South last season, but they may find it tougher this time round. DeShaun Watson is an excellent quarterback, but he will once again have ineffective support from his offensive line, while the departures of Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson has weakened their defense.
Houston have the weapons to do damage to the Saints, and they will hope that the absence of Rankin and the suspended David Onyemata reduces the potency of the New Orleans interior line, but once again there is a lot riding on Watson and bookmakers rate the Texans as the 5/2 outsiders.
The Superdome is one of the toughest venues for opposing teams, and the Saints have an impressive 15-4 record in front of their home fans in the last two years. The Texans were 5-3 on the road last season, but this will be a significantly tougher test.