Houston Texans vs New Orleans Saints: Season Opener Preview

Drew Brees enters his 19th season in the NFL against the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Photo Courtesy Angel Rick Leal

By: Angel Rick Leal

Game Info
Houston Texans vs New Orleans Saints
Monday – September 9 – 6:10 p.m. CST
TV: ESPN
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana

In 18 seasons, New Orleans Quarterback Drew Brees has done almost everything he possibly can. He’s won a Super Bowl, won Super Bowl MVP, earned 12 Pro Bowls and owns several NFL all-time records. But Brees, entering his 19th season, has never earned league MVP. Hard to believe with as long as he’s been in the league, that MVP is all he’s missing.  

“I’m just going to play each season like it’s my last, because I want that mentality, that sense of urgency, that when I wake up every day, man there is something to prove, and I don’t want to miss out on a second of it,” Brees said in a recent interview.
While he’s playing each season like his last, he approaches each one like his first. So he doesn’t just go through the motions during the Saints organized team activities.

“I’m always trying to find ways to improve,” Brees said. “The exciting part about each offseason is that, number one, it really is starting over. I approach the playbook as if I’m seeing it for the first time. Each pass concept, even though it may be something that I’ve run for 15 years, I’m going to go through it like I’m learning it day one.”

The New Orleans Saints finished the 2018 season 13-3 and made it to the Conference Championship before losing to the Los Angeles Rams 26-23.

The Houston Texans finished their 2018 season 11-5 and made it to the Wild Card game against the Indianapolis Colts but lost 21-7.

With improved protection on the offensive line with the acquisition of Laremy Tunsil that will be on Watson’s left side, along with rookies Tytus Howard and Max Scharping being able to help out veterans Zach Fulton and Senio Kelemete, we can only hope there’s an improvement in the pass protection department. Hopefully, Greg Mancz and Seantrel Henderson can stay healthy this season as they’re two amazingly valuable assets to the line as well.

This unit allowed 62 sacks on Watson last season, an NFL-record and that was in the forefront of the Houston Texans‘ mind this offseason, making significant investments in this lackluster, under-performing group of the past.

With a wide receiving corps of DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee, the team already has a lot of weapons coupled with Jordan Akins, Jerell Adams and Darren Fells. The Houston Texans carried all five of their tight ends on the 53-man roster so it remains to be seen when red-zone target Jordan Thomas and 2019 third-rounder Kahale Warring return back to the lineup.  Duke Johnson will handle a good chunk of the carries with Carlos Hyde, a recent acquisition will help him out.

Prediction
Houston is a decided underdog for logical reasons. The Texans will have several newly acquired players on the field. They will be missing their leading rusher from last season and a guy who contributed nine sacks. Houston has lost three of its four most recent season openers, including two that were at home. Heading into a notoriously raucous venue, in prime time, and filled with fans still smoldering from how the 2018 season ended for their team, that looks like a recipe for an ambush. The Saints have stumbled out of the gate the past five seasons. They have dropped their season opener every year since 2014. They have lost their first home game in each of the last four seasons. In 2014 and ’17, they started 0-2. In 2015 and ’16, they lost their first three games. Can they break that string of struggles to start the campaign with a victory? 

Final Score
Houston Texans – 35
New Orleans Saints – 33