NFL Picks: Rested Saints to be Tested By Improving Texans Defense

Mark Lathrop

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 1:55 PM GMT

The Texans have won three straight coming into this matchup with the Saints, but New Orleans also plays well after a bye week. Does any team have a clear advantage and deserve your NFL Pick?

The 4-6 New Orleans Saints try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive as they travel to play the 5-5 Houston Texans in Week 12. New Orleans is coming off of a bye week, a situation they have been playing well in lately, going 5-1 SU in their last six seasons after a week off. The Texans are coming off of their third win in a row, beating the New York Jets at home 24-17 behind backup to the backup quarterback, T.J. Yates.

The opening odds have the Houston Texans as the default home team favorite, giving up 3 points at multiple books. The O/U total can be found at both 47.5 and 48 on SBR's NFL odds board.

Houston’s recent success can be attributed to their defense turning a corner after getting humiliated in Miami in a 44-26 Week 7 loss. Since then, they have been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Here are the lines for losing quarterbacks facing the Texans since Week 7:

Zach Mettenberger – 22-31, 171 Yards, 0/1 TD/INT, 70.8 QBR

Andy Dalton – 22-38, 197 Yards, 0/1 TD/INT, 61.0 QBR

Ryan Fitzpatrick – 19-39, 216 Yards, 1/2 TD/INT, 52.9 QBR

Kind of amusing that Zack Mettenberger put up the best QBR in this group, but there it is. A good portion of this newfound success is the impressive play of perennial All-Star, J.J. Watt. Watt has 22 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and a forced fumble over his last three games combined. That is after only recording four sacks in his previous six games. He’s definitely turned it up a notch.

T.J. Yates has spent quite some time with the Houston organization, although the coaching staff has turned over since he left in 2013. His most significant action was in 2011, where he appeared in six games and put up an 80.7 QBR. The most important thing that Yates has done in the last two games is not turn over the ball, especially with how the Texans defense is playing. Luckily he won’t be needed in this game, as Brian Hoyer has been cleared from the league’s concussion protocol and will start Sunday versus the Saints.

If there is any chance for the Saints to win this game, it will behind the arm of Drew Brees. He’s having one of the best statistical seasons of his career despite the Saints overall record. His 330.2 yards per game is second only to his 2011 season when he put up 5,476 yards per game. Brees’ 69.5% completion is also 2nd in the league behind Tyrod Taylor through Week 11.

Of course, Brees’ passing output has been augmented by the fact that the Saints have been playing from behind for most of the year, as his defense is terrible. The Saints are dead last in the NFL in giving up 31.5 points per game, and 29th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game with 131.2. Well, they are also dead last in total yards per game given up at 424.3, so getting run on is not the only problem.

Coming off of a bye, I like the Saints defense in this spot to play ‘average’ against a Texans team with quarterback changes seemingly every week. They’ve also done a decent job in keeping Drew Brees upright this year. Basically, there isn’t a team with a clear advantage in this game, which is a situation I like to get points in. Take a rested Saints team to at least cover the 3 points in Week 12 as one of your NFL picks.

NFL Pick: New Orleans Saints +3 (+102) at Pinnacle