The Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints just missed the playoffs last season, though Houston outperformed New Orleans. Can both teams improve this season and take the next step? This preseason game marks another chance for each team to develop.
What We Know About The Coaches
Bill O’Brien of the Houston Texans is 3-3 in the preseason, 1-1 this year, after a narrow loss to Denver in a low-scoring game last week. O’Brien did a great job last year in his first season with Houston. Now, he’s trying to build even more of a foundation. He has named Brian Hoyer as his starting quarterback, and he must work to ensure that Hoyer can be successful.
Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints is 21-19 in the preseason, 0-2 this year, after his team managed to blow a 21-point lead to New England’s backups in a two-point loss, 26-24. The Saints have more veteran skill people, so their focus is probably not as intense as Houston’s is. The Texans have fewer proven players at important positions on offense (not on defense), so New Orleans’ focus will be more general, and probably lean toward the defensive side of the ball. Give O’Brien a slight edge here.
The Texans just named Brian Hoyer their starting quarterback for the regular season, which definitely makes sense in light of the fact that Ryan Mallett, the number two quarterback, fell asleep during practice earlier this week. Though Mallett won’t get the starting job, the embarrassment attached to his incident earlier this week might make him play with more concentration and determination on the field. Hoyer will also get a lot of reps, now that he’s the starter and will be expected to perform at a high level. Houston’s situation in terms of this game alone is not that bad.
The Saints’ backups behind Drew Brees were okay last week against New England, with Luke McCown and Ryan Griffin failing to complete only two of their passes. McCown went 4 for 6, Griffin 6 for 8. Garrett Grayson was less impressive, completing only 7 of 13 passes.
If Brees gets a full half, New Orleans will have the edge. If Brees plays just a quarter, Houston has the edge. Call it even, then.
Team Depth & Rotations
These teams are resting their defensive stalwarts. The Texans rested J.J. Watt, Vince Wilfork, and Jadeveon Clowney last week. The Saints rested their entire starting secondary a week ago against New England.
This week, the Saints have kept Brandon Browner, Keenan Lewis, C.J. Spiller, Khiry Robinson, P.J. Williams, Ramon Humber, Ronald Powell, Dannell Ellerbe, Nick Toon, Anthony Spencer, and Jairus Byrd out of a majority of (if not all) practices. The Texans are in better shape here, without question.
Outlook & Pick
The Saints could win if Brees plays at least 25 of the 60 minutes and performs really well. However, the NFL odds would suggest that Houston – with fewer starters out and with quarterbacks who have a lot to prove, far more than Brees – will attack this game with more urgency. Back Houston with your NFL picks.
NFL Pick: Texans +3.5 at Bovada