The traditional NFL opening Monday of the season brings us two games this week, with the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints facing off first in the SuperDome, closely followed by the Oakland Raiders hosting the Denver Broncos. Let’s take a look at what value we can find in these two games.
Here are this week’s NFL Picks:
Houston Texans @ New Orleans Saints
Mercedez-Benz Superdome, 7:10pm ET Monday September 9th, 2019
One of these Monday Night Football games at the start of the season always leads to us questioning something we thought coming into the season. Given the Saints are 0-5 on the opening week of the season in the past five years many are expecting that to be us questioning the Saints credentials. However, I foresee the outcome of this being us worrying about the Texans. Everything has changed for the Texans in the last week. They have a new running back, new left tackle and a reshaped defense. Now they are going into the Superdome and the most hostile atmosphere in the NFL. That atmosphere will be kicked up a level by what happened last time out in New Orleans. The memory of the Saints being robbed of a chance to go to the Super Bowl will still be a fresh wound for the Saints and their fans and I believe they take that out fully on the Texans.
Laremy Tunsil is very good, but he is in a new blocking system and he is going to be in a situation where the Saints defense is backed by a wall of noise. The Saints defense demonstrated how talented they are last year, and they start this year with a healthy Marcus Davenport opposite Cameron Jordan. I think this is a perfect combination of a slightly sluggish Texans offense out of the gate combined with a Saints offense in angry mode making for a big win for the Saints.
3u – New Orleans Saints -6.5 @ -105
The added element that comes with that cover for the Saints is points. They scored 40 points on Opening Day last season in defeat to the Buccaneers and I can see them getting over 30 once again. This has the feeling of a Saints season where they go for the throat in every game and keep going for that throat until the final whistle.
1u – New Orleans Saints over 29.5 Points @ -111
One Saints player that I am really high on is Jared Cook. The only part of their offense that lacked last year was the tight end position, and now they have their most talented tight end since Jimmy Graham was traded away. Cook had six touchdowns last season and I am fully expecting him to be one of Drew Brees’ big Red Zone targets this season. Backing him to score a touchdown is something I will be doing regularly in 2019.
1u – Jared Cook Anytime Touchdown Scorer @ +310
I do expect the Texans to generate some offense in this game and they should find the end zone a couple of times themselves. They trade for Carlos Hyde to be their big body back a week ago, and that should mean we see him getting carries around the goal line. I am not sure we will ever see odds this good for a Hyde touchdown again this season
1u – Carlos Hyde Anytime Touchdown Scorer @ +260
Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders
Oakland Coliseum, 10:20pm ET Monday September 9th, 2019
What a week it has been in Oakland. Antonio Brown was playing, then he was not, then he was again, then he asked to be released, then he was released and now he is a Patriot. It has been an up and down offseason for the Raiders, and they will be mightily relieved to finally be playing football this week. However, that relief might end when Bradley Chubb and Von Miller start putting their hands in the ground and coming after Derek Carr. The offensive line for the Raiders was a huge problem last year, with Carr having a career high 8.4% sack rate. They did invest in their offensive line in the offseason, but there are still a lot of question marks over Trent Brown and Kolten Miller as the tackles in this offense.
Then you look at the Raiders defense and realise that while there is a lot of talent, it is not among the pass rushers. Joe Flacco is going to have a lot of time in the pocket in this game to try and make things happen. He has also has a three-headed running game in Philip Lindsay, Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker. With playmakers on the outside as well the Broncos should be able to take on this Raiders team and comfortably come out on top.
3u – Denver Broncos -2.5 @ -105
I have looked at this game over and over and I just do not see how it is high scoring. The Raiders offense is likely to operate through the running game, and the Broncos are not exactly going to be slinging it either. This has the feel of a 20 plays 14 type game and therefore the under is a solid play in this one. The main reason for this is that I would stunned if the Raiders got into the 20-point mark in this matchup. They lack offensive weapons outside of Josh Jacobs and Tyrell Williams and I fully expect it to be a long season in Oakland.
2u – Under 42.5 Total Points @ -110
2u – Oakland Raiders Under 20.5 Points @ -110
There are plenty of options to score touchdowns for the Broncos in this one. It will be fascinating to see who gets the goal line carries, but Royce Freeman had five rushing touchdowns in 130 carries, which is a nice number as a rookie. Phillip Lindsay had nine rushing touchdowns himself, but he comes into this season having had an offseason wrist injury, meaning that he will likely be limited in this opening game. Freeman is a solid bet to find the end zone in this one, given that the Broncos offense should operate on the ground, looking to open the game up through play action.
1u – Royce Freeman Anytime Touchdown Scorer @ +260
By Ben Rolfe