Monday Night Football Preview
Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints
When: 7:10 PM ET, Monday, September 9, 2019
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Saints have seen each of their last two seasons come to an end with heartbreaking losses, including a galling setback in January with the team knocking on the door of the Super Bowl. With Drew Brees returning for his 19th season, the Saints open their bid for a third straight NFC South title when they host the Houston Texans on tonight.
New Orleans finished with 13 wins and the top overall seed in the conference last season before falling in overtime to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC title game due to a non-call on pass interference that led to a rule change by the league in the offseason. “Anytime you have some sort of negativity or some sort of adversity, it’s: ‘Are you going to allow it to affect you negatively or are you going to allow it to affect you positively?'” Brees said. “I think we take the approach that we’re going to let it affect us positively.”
Surprisingly, New Orleans has dropped five straight season openers and draws a tough matchup in the Texans, who captured the AFC South in 2018 and revamped their roster with a series of notable moves on cut-down weekend, including trading away former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. “You’ve got two teams that are starting off the season with high hopes and two teams that have a lot of great players on both sides of the ball and on special teams,” Houston coach Bill O’Brien said. “It’s going to be a great game.”
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Saints -7. O/U: 52.5
ABOUT THE TEXANS (2018: 11-5, FIRST IN AFC SOUTH): Houston will rely heavily on third-year quarterback Deshaun Watson, the first player to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns while rushing for 500 yards and five scores in a season. Watson has perhaps the league’s top wideout in DeAndre Hopkins, who amassed 115 receptions and 11 TDs last season, but questions abound about the ground game after Lamar Miller tore his ACL in the preseason so the Texans brought in running backs Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde in separate trades and bolstered the offensive line with the acquisition of tackle Laremy Tunsil. Star defensive end J.J. Watt returned from a pair of injury-ravaged seasons to record an AFC-high 16.0 sacks in 2018.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (2018: 13-3, FIRST IN NFC SOUTH): Brees, 40, who earned his 12th Pro Bowl berth after throwing for 32 touchdowns versus five interceptions last season, needs 20 scoring passes to surpass Peyton Manning (539) for No. 1 on the all-time list. Michael Thomas led the NFL with 125 catches and set a franchise record with 1,405 yards while becoming the third player in history to start his career with three straight seasons of at least 1,100 yards. Tight end Jared Cook, coming off a career year in Oakland, will augment the passing game while do-everything back Alvin Kamara heads the ground game after piling up 18 touchdowns and nearly 1,600 yards from scrimmage. The defense ranked No. 2 against the run (80.2 yards) last season.
- Brees has thrown 37 scoring passes in 17 career Kickoff Weekend games, the most of any quarterback.
- Texans WR Will Fuller has 11 receiving TDs in 11 games with Watson at QB.
- New Orleans will be without DTs Sheldon Rankins (Achilles) and David Onyemata (suspension) for the opener.