New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans kicks off this Sunday at 1:00pm EST in Houston Texas as a home game for the Texans. The Saints are currently a -1.5 favorite and -122 on the moneyline while the total is set at 42.5. With the Texans taking on their toughest defense so far this season, expect plenty of value on unders for the likes of CJ Stroud and Dameon Pierce for this New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans matchup.
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The Houston Texans have been one of the bigger surprise teams in the NFL to start the season, beating teams off the arm of CJ Stroud and their efficient offense. Even with a hobbled offensive line, the Texans have shifted their offense to rely on more short outs in an attempt to move the ball down the field. Unfortunately, they now have to face one of the best defenses in football, a unit that is more than capable of disrupting the Texans pass attack.
Dameon Pierce Under 49.5 Rushing Yards
While the Texans pass attack have not skipped a beat amidst the plethora of injuries to their offensive line, the ground game has not fared the same fate. In fact, Dameon Pierce has practically been a non-factor this whole season as he has been reduced to a measly 2.9 yards per carry.
It’s hard to point the blame towards Pierce as the run game is in direct correlation with the offensive line, a unit that has been decimated by injuries. Those injuries have reduced the Texans ground game to 31st in Rush DVOA, 32nd in Rush Success Rate, and 30th in Rush EPA.
Pierce may suffer more of the same in this contest, having to find answers against a Saints defense that ranks second in Def Rush EPA, second in Def Rush Success Rate, and 10th in Def Rush DVOA. Especially with a brunt of their production coming from their defensive line, limiting any sort of opening for Pierce to try and exploit. Expect plenty of clogged lanes and a heavier dose of the pass in an effort to counter this Saints defense.
CJ Stroud Under 1.5 Passing Touchdowns
The Texans offensive success has directly correlated towards CJ Stroud’s immediate impact as their rookie quarterback, efficiently shredding opposing defenses with his pinpoint precision throwing ability. With a hobbled offensive line, this has forced Stroud to get the ball out of his hands quickly while his receivers excel at creating space across the middle.
It is criminal how little attention CJ Stroud has received this season… anonymous offensive cast around him, rookie Head Coach, first year OC, injured OL.
— Rich Ohrnberger (@ohrnberger) October 8, 2023
The Texans may be without a key wideout in Tank Dell as he is in concussion protocol, leaving them barren at wideout. This will allow the Saints to throw more shadow coverage at Nico Collins, limiting the quality of throwing windows to Stroud’s demise. Factor in an average offensive unit inside the 20 against an elite Saints red zone defense and touchdowns may come at a premium for the Houston Texans.
CJ Stroud 0.5 Interceptions
CJ Stroud has quickly asserted himself as the favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award off of his efficient play by starting the season throwing for seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. This has been against middling defenses, now having to deal with a Saints unit who excels at creating pressure from their front four.
By generating pressure with just their defensive line, this allows the Saints to drop more players back in coverage. This will clog passing lanes while collapsing the pocket with their pressure, putting Stroud in a dangerous spot to throw his first interception of the season. Especially if he reverts back to his pre-draft expectations, being pegged as a quarterback who struggles to make the next read under pressure should his first option be covered.
Derek Carr Over 215.5 Passing Yards
It’s no secret that Derek Carr has been clearly hampered by his shoulder injury, directly affecting the pass attack. They took extra precaution in a dominant win over the Patriots, allowing the Saints to rely on a heavier dose of the run as they cruised to victory.
Don’t expect the same type of early lead against the Texans as defensive scores should be minimized, meaning that Derek Carr will find himself with plenty of passing attempts in an effort to clear this number as the contest is expected to be close as the spread implies. Especially with an expected clean pocket throughout the contest as the Texans defense ranks 23rd in Pressure, 29th in Sack Rate, and 27th in blitz rate.