New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans Preseason Pro Football Picks & Predictions

New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans
Saturday, 8/20/11, 8:00 PM EST
Opening Point Spread:  Houston -2.5
Current Betting Line:  New Orleans -2.5
Opening Total:  37.5
Current Total:  40
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Seahawks Saints NFL Preview
The New Orleans Saints have moved to a road favorite Saturday night against the Houston Texans

New Orleans will play its fifth all-time preseason contest against Houston tonight and will be seeking to take the lead in the overall series that’s knotted at two games apiece.  The Saints are coming off an impressive 24-3 home win over the San Francisco 49ers as 2.5-point home favorites.  Offensively, the team gained 138 yards on the ground, which included 23 yards on six carries from first-round draft pick Mark Ingram.  Quarterback Drew Brees played sparingly in the opener, giving way to backup Chase Daniel early, who completed 13-of-21 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns.  New Orleans is 3-1 ATS on the road during preseason action the last two seasons.

The Saints are expected to play starters for nearly the entire first half tonight, which will allow Brees to attempt more than just four passes.  Head coach Sean Payton has preached to the first-team offense to take better care of the football after Brees threw a career-high 22 interceptions a year ago.  On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams got his defense flying around the football field, as the unit will try to regain its Super Bowl form by causing plenty of turnovers.

Houston opened up its 2011 preseason with a 20-16 win over the New York Jets at Reliant Stadium on Monday Night Football.  The Texans were actually out-gained by 89 yards in the contest, but found a way to come out ahead.  Head coach Gary Kubiak will once again game plan offensively against a 3-4 defensive scheme for a second consecutive week, something he’s unaccustomed to due to AFC South Division opponents all playing out of the 4-3.  “We work in practice against a 3-4, so our 4-3 reps have to be carded and orchestrated,” Kubiak commented.  “We really get 2 1/2 days of practice to play this game, so we’re just trying to get ready to go.”  Houston is just 3-9 ATS in its last 12 opportunities as a favorite during exhibition play.

The Texans are hoping that wide receiver Andre Johnson makes his 2011 debut, as quarterback Matt Schaub needs repetitions with all his top weapons before opening the season against division rival Indianapolis on Sept. 11.  Defensively, first-year coordinator Wade Phillips is trying to improve a secondary that ranked last in the league in pass defense a year ago, allowing 267.5 yards a game.  Houston allowed New York to throw for 251 yards in the preseason opener, including an alarming 208 by rookie quarterback Greg McElroy.

Bettors will likely back the Saints due to their 27-11 ATS mark on the road during preseason action, while the Texans are 15-21 ATS before the regular season.

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