Saturday Preseason Picks: Bet Against Falcons in Debut of New Stadium

Jay Pryce

Friday, August 25, 2017 1:27 PM UTC

Friday, Aug. 25, 2017 1:27 PM UTC

A pair of road underdogs presents value in our NFL Picks of the Day for Saturday. See why the Cardinals and Texans will give NFC South representatives the Falcons and Saints trouble in dress rehearsal week.

Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons play their first game in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium when they host the Cardinals on Saturday. Odds are fans will be excited, creating a regular-season like atmosphere with the first team seeing the majority of action.

How much head coach Dan Quinn plays his starters is up in the air. Quarterback Matt Ryan, who has played in just one series in each of Atlanta’s two exhibition games, will likely work the first half. Star receiver Julio Jones, who has not touched the field due to injury, may see his first action. Quinn is expected to make a decision regarding Jones on Friday, but expect just a series or two if he plays. “Our approach will be more on an individual basis,” Quinn divulged to reporters Wednesday regarding first-team action.

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians preaches the preseason is about player evaluation and not winning, but the planning for the trip to Atlanta is more regular season like in tone and preparation. In addition to the first team playing the majority of the contest, quarterback Carson Palmer told reporters the team is studying the Falcons on film and the offense will branch out beyond “the very vanilla” playcalling it ran in previous weeks.

Arizona’s defense took a hit on Tuesday, losing second-year DT Robert Nkemdiche to a cald injury. He’s out for the remainder of the preseason, looking at a 2-3 week absence.

The Cardinals are 3-3 SU and 4-0-2 ATS as a preseason pup under Arians, never losing by more than a field goal in any game. The team has roughly 8-10 second-string positions up for grabs, making backup competition fierce. Expect the battle will keep it close. Bet the points with the Cardinals and don’t be shocked by an outright win.

Free NFL Pick: Cardinals +3.5Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints

Saints head coach Sean Payton has been extremely careful with his veteran starters this preseason. Franchise quarterback Drew Brees, new running back Adrian Peterson, fellow tailback Mark Ingram, and defensive end Cameron Jordan have not touched the turf in an exhibition game. As of Wednesday, Payton told reporters he plans to sit down with each player and “go through the roles,” hinting “we’re gonna want to play them some.” How much time each gets is anyone’s guess, but expect limited action of less than a half.

A pair of joint practices with the Chargers last week and Texans on Thursday is allowing the team to work on situational efforts. Observers note that Peterson was the standout in California, while Brees was 7-of-8 with a touchdown pass in two-minute drills in the workout with Houston. The veterans have little to prove, hence why Payton is keeping them off the field in preseason games.

The Texans, meanwhile, have their best tandem of quarterbacks in recent years with Tom Savage and rookie Deshaun Watson turning heads in camp. The two are pushing each other on and off the field, making for solid play. Expect the stellar play to continue in New Orleans.

This is the ninth preseason meeting between the two teams since 2006. Houston averages 26.3 points per game in four preseason road trips to The Big Easy under Coach Bill O’Brien, topping 20 points in each. This number is on par with the lack of defense the Saints show in the Superdome in recent years. Since 2013, New Orleans has allowed 23 of 24 visitors to put up 20 or more in the regular season. The Saints have won just three of those when scoring fewer than 30 points. Not including the playoffs, Houston’s ferocious defense has allowed an opponent to score 30 points or more once in the last two seasons. Take the points with the Texans and sprinkle a little on the money line, too.

Free NFL Pick: Texans +3Best Line Offered: Heritage

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