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Monday, September 9, 2019
SAINTS VS TEXANS
Venue: | Start: 9:10am AEST
A week after reshaping their roster with a pair of blockbuster trades, the Houston Texans will be tested immediately in Monday night’s season opener at the New Orleans Saints.
With head coach Bill O’Brien calling the shots in the absence of a general manager, the Texans dealt Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle for a package centered around a third-round pick, then shipped two first-rounders and a second-rounder to Miami for left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who will step in immediately on Deshaun Watson’s blind side.
As Tunsil rushes to learn the playbook, more pressure falls on J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus to maintain a potent pass rush without Clowney. Likewise, O’Brien faces even more pressure to win entering his sixth year with the club.
The would-be NFC champions if not for a blown call last season, the Saints enter with another all-in approach surrounding 40-year-old Drew Brees and 13th-year head coach Sean Payton.
Running back Alvin Kamara and freshly-paid wideout Michael Thomas remain the offensive centerpieces, but Jared Cook gives Brees the best weapon he’s had at tight end since Jimmy Graham. Rookie second-round pick Erik McCoy is expected to start at center in place of retired Pro Bowler Max Unger after impressing throughout the preseason.
Margin: Saints 1-13
Line: Saints -7.0
Total Points: Under 52.5
RAIDERS VS BRONCOS
Venue: | Start: 12:20pm AEST
After a headline-filled offseason that culminated in an appearance on HBO’s Hard Knocks, the Oakland Raiders are set to host the Denver Broncos on Monday night in the final game of Week 1.
The second game of a Monday-night doubleheader was supposed to be the feature-length debut of Antonio Brown, but he was unceremoniously released on Saturday following a week chock full of drama between the team and the mercurial wideout.
Brown’s departure is a big blow to the passing game, with Tyrell Williams and JJ Nelson now the projected starters. Fifth-round rookie Hunter Renfrow will also be in line for increased snaps.
Head coach Jon Gruden will also count on right tackle Trent Brown — the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history — and first-round running back Josh Jacobs to support quarterback Derek Carr on offense.
They’ll have their hands full with new Broncos coach Vic Fangio’s defense, led by stalwart edge rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The pair combined for 26.5 sacks during Chubb’s rookie campaign last year, though only one came in the two games against the Raiders.
Joe Flacco is the Broncos’ fifth starting quarterback since Peyton Manning retired following a Super Bowl 50 victory. Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello will be calling plays for the first time in the NFL, and Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay will return to where his 2018 season ended with a broken wrist.
Margin: Broncos 1-13
Line: Broncos -1.0
Total Points: Over 43.5