2011 NFL Predictions: New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans Betting Preview

The New Orleans Saints (1-0) and Houston Texans (1-0) are ready to continue their 2011 preseason schedules Saturday night at Reliant Stadium in a matchup featuring two of the more prolific offenses in the National Football League.

Both teams took advantage of home-field advantage in their openers, as the Saints came away with a 24-3 win over the 49ers, while the Texans tallied a 20-16 victory against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.

Saturday’s game will be the fifth preseason meeting between the two squads, as they’ve met every year during this time since 2008 and have held joint practices before ending this year due to the lockout. 

New Orleans came away with a 38-20 home victory as 1.5-point favorites during last year’s Week 2 preseason meeting, jumping out to a 14-0 first quarter lead and finishing with 198 rushing yards on 46 carries.

The Saints will likely use the same formula and try to punish the Texans defense on the ground, handing the ball off to rookie running back Mark Ingram out of Alabama. The first-round pick contributed 23 yards on six carries to the team’s 138 rushing total last week.

Houston, meanwhile, was actually out-gained by 89 total yards last week, with most of the disparity coming in the rushing category. The Texans allowed 100 yards on 26 carries, but the coaching staff isn't too concerned due to their focus on pass defense.

During the 2010 campaign, Houston’s secondary ranked last in the league, allowing 267.5 yards a game through the air. First-year defensive coordinator Wade Phillips doesn't seem to have any immediate answers, allowing the Jets to throw for 251 yards—including 208 by rookie Greg McIlroy.

Head coach Gary Kubiak is prepping the offense to face a 3-4 defensive alignment for the second consecutive week, which is something the unit isn’t used to during divisional play as the entire AFC South division plays a 4-3 scheme.

The Texans may also welcome back running back Arian Foster, who sat out the opener with a hamstring injury, but returned to practice Wednesday morning. The third-year runner out of Tennessee led the NFL in rushing in 2010, recording the most rushing yards ever by an undrafted player (1,616).

Betters have witnessed a five-point swing in the line, as the Texans opened as three-point favorites to currently sitting as two-point underdogs.

And Houston hasn’t been a home underdog in the last two-plus exhibition seasons, while New Orleans is 1-0 against-the-spread as a road favorite of three points or less over the same span.

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