Monkey Knife Fight Rapidfire:
Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints
The Houston Texas are traveling into the Superdome tonight in an effort to defeat the New Orleans Saints, a team that has failed to win a season opener in five consecutive seasons. Vegas doesn’t care about that random statistic, as the Saints are currently 6.5-point favorites over the Texans in a game set at 52.5 total points. The public is betting the Saints’ spread at a 59% clip, and the home field advantage should be rather significant as Drew Brees’ career record at home is 84-48 compared to 71-61 on the road. Regardless of the outcome on the scoreboard, these two high-powered should put on a show in the season’s first Monday night football game.
Monkey Knife Fight is currently offering bettors the opportunity to select which QB – Drew Brees or DeShaun Watson – will record more passing yards, Watson granted a 12.5-yard buffer, as well as which WR – Michel Thomas or DeAndre Hopkins – will record more receiving yards, Thomas granted a 13.5-yard buffer. If bettors accurately predict both outcomes, it pays 2.42x.
Drew Brees is the QB recommendation, as he has more passing upside at home than Watson does against an underrated Saints’ secondary. The Saints are only 0.4 in the positive direction in true defensive unit strength against opposing QBs; The Texans are 6.2, meaning the Texans struggle to adequately defend against the QB position. At home, Brees is averaging 292.5 yards per game in his career, compared to 271.4 on the road. His passer rating increases from 92.3 on the road to 103.1 at home, as well. The Saints are always aggressive from the very beginning of the game, and with the loss of Mark Ingram, and despite the addition of Latavius Murray, the Saints should throw more short routes to compensate for their decreased rushing presence. Alvin Kamara is always a big play threat, giving Brees increased upside, as he throws his RBs on just under 30% of pass attempts. Watson, on the other hand, throws the ball to WRs on 66.9% of pass attempts. Most importantly, the Saints have a stout defensive line, and last season, Watson was sacked on 11.2% of passing attempts, almost 8% higher than that of Brees. Watson should use his legs much more effectively, but his increased rushing ability lessens the likelihood of a stellar passing attack. Even if the Saints are winning, Peyton is not going to decrease the pressure, and Brees should see over 300 passing yards tonight.
The WR recommendation is DeAndre Hopkins, which seems counterintuitive, but the Texans are dealing with quite a few changes and injuries in their passing attack to begin the season. Hopkins saw 163 targets last season on 1009 snaps, compared to 147 targets on 887 snaps for Michael Thomas. Hopkins rarely comes off the field, and he is targeted on one-third of the Texans offensive passing plays. He accounts for 37.7% of the team’s total receiving yards, as well. Both statistics are greater than that of Thomas. Hopkins will face the tougher defense, but with Kenny Stills still learning the playbook, Will Fuller dealing with a repaired ACL, and Keke Coutee a true game-time decision for week one, there are plenty of question marks that Watson is going to have to deal with. Lamar Miller is out for the season, and Duke Johnson should help to facilitate the passing attack, which could open Hopkins up for less double and triple teaming. When in trouble, Watson will look toward his favorite target – Hopkins. Hopkins and Thomas receive around the same amount of targets and receptions on a per game basis, but Hopkins tends to catch the ball down the field more frequently, and for all those reasons, he has the advantage in the receiving game, despite playing down 13.5 yards to start the game.
Recommended Players: Drew Brees and DeAndre Hopkins