Houston @ New Orleans
New Orleans -1½ -107 over Houston

Posted at 10:45 AM EST. Odds subject to change.

Pinnacle -1½ -101  BET365 -1½ -110 Sportsinteraction -1½ -110 888Sport -1½ -110

New Orleans -1½ -101 over Houston

8:00 PM EST. This is it folks, the final game of the preseason before final cuts are made and before the season opener in two weeks. The Texans are 1-1 in the preseason while the Saints are 2-0. The Saints have a second year head coach in Dennis Allen, who also coached the Raiders from 2012 to 2014 while the Texans are trying to establish a winning culture or at least change the culture to something more positive with new head coach, DeMeco Ryans. Yes indeed, the Texans are trying to change the franchise's direction, as they've gone 11-38-1 in the past three seasons. According to Caesars Sportsbook, they're projected to finish last in the division.

Ryans has lots more on his plate than having to worry about a meaningless preseason game on the road. As a first-time head coach, he has to make the “right cuts” to trim the roster before the opener, which is a massive burden on his shoulders. 

Coach DeMeco Ryans said veterans will play two series Sunday against the Saints. He said the younger players will get the majority of the snaps. The third preseason game is usually for players hoping to prove themselves, whether that’s with the Texans or other teams watching. That’s one of the reasons cut day will be tough on Ryans.

“This will be my first time doing that, and it’s very tough because I don’t look at guys just as players, I look at the human, the man behind,” Ryans said. “I know how much work guys put in, I know how much they’re grinding out on the football field and they’re giving their all. And to tell a guy, ‘No,’ at this time is going to be difficult, but we understand that process, and most of these men in here, they understand the process and they know.”

There is so much going on for a first-year head coach. Ryans, 39, is a young coach who’s now determining for himself what matters and what doesn’t. There’s a status associated with head coaches who call plays, a stigma associated with those who don’t. There’s also a considerable imbalance: 15 of the 18 offensive-minded head coaches are also their team’s play-caller (83.3%) in 2023, while just four of the 12 defensive-minded head coaches (excluding Ryans) will call their defense’s plays (25%). Ryans knows he must manage a team that’s once again undergoing a massive transition. He is the franchise’s fourth head coach in four years. Owner Cal McNair emphasized Ryans’ leadership upon the former Texans linebacker’s hiring, and Ryans spent the offseason developing a workflow system for a team accustomed to dysfunction. The point is that Ryans has too much on his plate to worry about the final score in a preseason game in New Orleans before he has to prove himself to the world. Aside from all that, the Texans need to be healthy so Ryans is not about to take chances either with anyone. The Texans are absolutely loaded with nobodies. 

As for the Saints, well, they are in pretty good shape heading into the final preseason game and it is clear that Allen wants to win them all. Only four teams allowed fewer yards last season than New Orleans, which also finished ninth in scoring at 20.3 points per game. They made life particularly tough on opposing quarterbacks, racking up 48 sacks (tied for fifth in the NFL) with Philly being the only club to give up fewer passing yards. Where they struggled was in creating turnovers as their 14 takeaways tied for second to last. It’s rare to see that much pressure result in so few takeaways. In their first two preseason games, the Saints beat the Chiefs and Chargers. They have several defensive players vying for jobs and therefore all of them will be playing their hearts out today. Allen stresses D and they’ll now play a Texans’ team that scored three points last week against Miami and scored 20 points (10 gifted) in their opening preseason win over New England. New Orleans plays to win here and we’re betting that’s exactly what happens -- big time.


Our Pick

New Orleans -1½ -107 (Risking 2.02 units - To Win: 2.00)