Coming off a resurgent season where quarterback Deshaun Watson took a leap forward in his development, the Houston Texans are looking to secure yet another AFC South division title while pushing their way into status as a true Super Bowl contender in the conference. Much of this will lay on the shoulders of Watson to lead the charge toward making a significant threat in 2019 and possibly beyond that.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are looking to start fresh and put last year’s disappointing NFC title game completely behind them. The Saints have undergone some changes to the roster, but their core group is almost entirely back with eyes on making another strong push through the regular season eyeing a deep run in the playoffs. It will see them lean on star quarterback Drew Brees to be the driving force of the offense in making that a reality in the 2019 campaign.
This pits two highly motivated teams to do just more than win their respective divisions once again by showcasing they are real challengers for the Super Bowl, starting with this Week 1 matchup.
Texans hoping to take the next step forward
The Texans took some major strides forward this past season having won the AFC South that earned them a trip back to the playoffs, but it did see things end much sooner than expected as Indianapolis Colts led by then quarterback Andrew Luck dispatched of them in convincing fashion. It was a loss that only further underlined the issues that the team had all of the 2018 campaign with their lack of consistent play along the offensive line that contributed to their offense struggling to put up points. The Texans appear to have a franchise cornerstone under center with Deshaun Watson, but the team’s inability to pass protect for him last season drew some much major concerns that it could lead to injuries down the line. Watson has shown he can lead the offense with his arm as he put together a strong sophomore campaign in the NFL as he passed for 4,126 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions while rushing for 551 yards and five touchdowns while playing in all 16 games last year. He has made it clear that he is the future of the franchise under center with his play despite the team’s issues elsewhere on the roster.
In 5 career primetime games, #Texans QB @deshaunwatson has recorded 1,210 pass yards, 15 touchdowns (13 pass, 2 rush) & a 122.4 passer rating.Houston is 4-1 in those games & outscored their opponents 142-107 (+35). In 2018 alone, Watson was 3-0 in primetime with a 131.1 rating. pic.twitter.com/MEHKCOiPnM— Texans PR (@TexansPR) September 5, 2019
The Texans have attempted to address some of these needs as they made the big-splash move of acquiring left tackle Laremy Tunsil to block Watson’s blindside while also adding veteran wide receiver Kenny Stills in the same trade from the Miami Dolphins. This brings aboard two players that could play be factors from the get-go for Houston. Meanwhile, they have quickly acted upon their running back situation after Lamar Miller went down with a season-ending torn ACL as they signed Carlos Hyde to pair alongside Duke Johnson Jr.. The two should figure in to be major factors in the offense to help bring much balance. This goes without saying that their top receiving option in star wideout DeAndre Hopkins will lead the charge in the passing game. The Texans have the weapons offensively, it will simply come down to whether they can provide the necessary blocking for Watson. This will certainly be the key to them pulling out a win on the road against the Saints.
Saints looking to contending once again
Heading into the 2019 season, the Saints are looking to start anew after yet another disappointing end to their campaign in the playoffs. This time around it was in the NFC title game where they had the opportunity in front of them to go the Super Bowl but a missed call and interception in overtime against the Los Angeles Rams ended those hopes. With that now in the rearview mirror, New Orleans has their eyes on putting forth another highly successful campaign with their eyes set on reaching the Super Bowl once again. They are bringing back largely the same team with almost all of their core pieces back for another campaign to make a strong run towards competing for a championship. New Orleans will have some changes such as Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram electing to depart in free agency to the Baltimore Ravens while the team has recently acquired veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso from the Miami Dolphins.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) September 5, 2019
Nonetheless, the focus will be back on the offense with star quarterback Drew Brees returning for yet another campaign. Brees had struggled down the stretch of last season, but he did put forth another impressive campaign finishing with 3,992 yards along with 32 touchdowns to just five interceptions along with an NFL-record 74.4 percent completion rate and a 115.7 passer rating. The attention will certainly be on Brees to see if he has any fall off in his production, but he has will have some strong weapons around him in the passing game. Fresh off his huge extension, star wide receiver Michael Thomas will be his primary target while the team has added veteran tight end, Jared Cook, while running back Alvin Kamara figures to have a bigger role in the offense following the departure of Ingram. Head coach Sean Payton has voiced that the Saints will temper Kamara’s role a bit, but it’s hard not to expect his involvement to expand notably to further utilize his unique skillset. All of this should come into play from the get-go against the Texans in what should be a back-and-forth contest, but what should separate things is the Saints’ pass rush that was among the best in the league last year finishing tied for third in sacks. This should be the difference between the two teams as they should have an impact against the Texans offensive line that struggled tremendously this past season as Watson was sacked an NFL-worst 62 times in 2018. All of this just adds on to the belief that the Saints will have the upper hand in this season-opening matchup.The Saints are hoping for a fast start.
“You just want to start fast regardless of how the seasons turn around,” safety Marcus Williams said. “You want to start fast, you want to all be on the same page, you want to all be clicking. Once you start fast, then everything starts rolling. That’s what you want to see coming out.”
- Home team is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings between these two teams.
- Texans are 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 road games.
- Texans are 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
- Texans are 3-10 ATS in their last 13 Monday games.