The Houston Texans host the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 of the NFL Preseason. Both teams are coming off disappointing campaigns after both failing to make the postseason last year.
The kickoff for Saturday’s contest is at 8 p.m. EST inside NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. New Orleans is a one-point betting favorite, and the over-under total is 35.0 points.
What to Know – New Orleans Saints
New Orleans wrapped up the 2021 season with a 9-8 record and a second-place finish in the NFC South. After a 5-2 start, the Saints failed to win their division and missed the postseason for the first time since 2016.
Jameis Winston returns under center and should be ready to go in Week 1 after tearing his ACL midway through the season last year. The former Tampa Buccaneer tossed 14 touchdowns and three interceptions while healthy and should have a lot of weapons in the passing game this year. Winston isn’t expected to play in the preseason opener with a sprained foot.
Leading rusher Alvin Kamara returns to the backfield after another Pro-Bowl season. Kamara suited up in only 13 contests but managed to rush for 898 yards and catch 47 passes for 439 yards with nine touchdowns.
Wide receiver Michael Thomas is back healthy, joining Jarvis Landry and rookie Chris Olave on the outside. The product at wide receiver will be vastly improved from last year’s unit. Former gadget player Tyson Hill remains with the Saints and is now in a full-time tight end roll.
Two of the defensive units’ top tacklers are gone, but the Saints return leading tackler Damario Davis and a pair of Pro Bowlers in defensive Cameron Jordan and cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
What to Know – Houston Texans
The Texans mark their 20th season in the NFL when play begins Week 1 and have their seventh head coach over that span in Lovie Smith. Smith was the long-time coach of the Chicago Bears with another two-year stint in Tampa Bay and has a 89-87 career coaching record in the NFL.
Davis Mills is the projected starter under center after seeing action in 13 games last year. Mills threw for 2,664 yards with 16 touchdowns and ten interceptions. Kyle Allen and Jeff Driskel are the no. 2 and no. 3 signal-callers on the Texans depth chart.
Rookie running back Dameon Pierce has been turning heads in camp and should see a bulk of the carriers this preseason alongside Rex Burkhead and Marlon Mack. Mack and Burkhead might begin the season atop the depth chart, but Pierce could be the starter by the end of the season.
Bradin Cooks highlights the receiving core that includes Nico Collins and Chris Conley. Rookie wide out John Metchie III will miss the entirety of the season after being diagnosed with a form of leukemia earlier this year.
Houston’s defense has to step up in 2022 if the Texans want to improve in their division. The unit benefits from returning its top four tacklers from last year and a pair of rookies in the defensive backfield in Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre.
The Pick is In
Smith served on the Texans coaching staff last season, so he is familiar with many of the faces on the roster. Expect a lot of the veteran players for the Saints to sit this one out or see limited action. This one will be a defensive struggle, with the hosts sneaking out the victory late.
The Pick: Houston Texans ML