Saints March Into Houston As Preseason Powerhouse For Matchup vs. Texans

Jason Lake

Thursday, August 18, 2016 7:26 PM UTC

Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 7:26 PM UTC

The Houston Texans have been pounding the UNDER in preseason play since Bill O'Brien became head coach. But is it the right NFL pick Saturday against the New Orleans Saints?

We've got another one of those “irresistible force vs. immovable object” scenarios brewing here. Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints are about to collide with Bill O'Brien and the Houston Texans this Saturday (8:00 p.m. ET) at One Reliant Park; Payton's Saints are all about offense, while O'Brien and the Texans are one of the best defensive teams in the NFL. It's what they do.

Making NFL picks is what we do here at the ranch, and I don't mind telling you, this pick would be a lot easier without the existential offense-meets-defense crisis. Let's go straight to the preseason records for both Payton and O'Brien and you'll see what I mean.


Sean Payton, Saints: 23-13-2 ATS, OVER 22-14-2
Bill O'Brien, Texans: 5-4 ATS, UNDER 8-1


Look at that UNDER record for O'Brien. That might not be sustainable over the long haul, but this is preseason play, so we can expect at least some consistency with the results. However, those expectations get cancelled out by Payton and the Saints offense. They've been driving the OVER to the pay window for nearly a decade now. So we're going to steer clear of that 41-point total on the NFL odds board, thank you kindly.


Brock Busters
That point spread looks pretty healthy, though. The Saints are getting the usual three points on the road, and their preseason ATS record with Payton at the helm is even better than their OVER record. In this case, the Texans aren't causing us any angst with their ATS record under O'Brien. We'd obviously prefer someone with a strong track record of punting these games, but you can't have everything.

If you're the Texans, having a starting quarterback would be nice. Here are the QB depth charts for both teams as they appear at Rotoworld:


Saints: Drew Brees, Luke McCown, Garrett Grayson
Texans: Brock Osweiler, Tom Savage, Brandon Weeden


Maybe Houston does have a starting QB after all. Savage played most of the preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers (–3 at home), and he was very good, throwing a pair of second-half touchdowns in a 24-13 comeback victory. He might end up doing more of the same against the Saints and their backup defenders. But Osweiler wasn't particularly impressive in his brief Texans debut, and he'll presumably get more burn in Week 2 as he tries to get on the same page with O'Brien.

Not a lot of buzz yet about Payton's plans for Saturday, although there will be some emphasis on defensive takeaways, as new coordinator Dennis Allen gets his players up to speed. The Saints are 0-6 SU and ATS in their last six exhibition games, so don't dip too far into your wallet and/or purse, but we'll recommending taking New Orleans for a spin. Our consensus reports show 62 percent of early bettors agree.


Free NFL Pick: Saints +3 (–106)
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle
Preseason Record: 1-2 ATS, 1-0 Totals

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