As is always the case with the first week of the NFL regular season, Monday Night means a double-header. In tonight’s late game the Houston Texans head west to take on a San Diego Chargers team looking to rid themselves of some bad memories from years’ past. For the Texans they’ve now emerged as a consistent playoff team, but they need to take the next step and look to capture a Super Bowl. It’s clear heading into 2013, those are the expectations and anything less will be deemed a failure. Look for a focused Texans squad to take the field Monday night, well aware that this game represents an opportunity to set the tone for the entire year. Meanwhile for the Chargers, it’s an entirely new era in San Diego. And though their expectations may be lower, first-year head coach Mike McCoy takes over a talented Chargers group that could wreak havoc in the AFC West. It’s the final game of a thrilling Week 1, and we’ve got an official selection down below.
Texans at Chargers Betting Odds:
Houston Texans -4 (-110)
@ San Diego Chargers +4 (-110)
Over 44.5 (-110)
Under 44.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Texans at Chargers Pick:
Though not much fanfare has surrounded the Texans in the lead-up to this season as in previous years, this remains a dangerous team that can easily contend for the 2013 Super Bowl. Key linebacker Brian Cushing returns to the fold after missing a large portion of 2012, and the 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year knows how important it is to start such a pivotal year off on the right foot. For all of the Chargers’ offensive weapons, expect them to be nullified by the talent of Houston’s defense. In addition to Cushing, J.J. Watt remains one of the best players in his game, and adding Ed Reed to their already solid secondary surely does not hurt either. Error-prone Phillip Rivers will likely be forced into many mistakes come Monday evening.
Entering Week One, a lot of emphasis has been put on the status of key running back Arian Foster. His health has been quite the concern and his heavy workload in recent years may have something to do with it. Expect a lighter than usual workload for Foster tonight, and look for Ben Tate to split carries with him. Tate remains a capable back-up and has produced big games in the past. San Diego’s run defense has been shoddy in recent years and expect Houston to use this two-headed attack to their advantage tonight.
Where this game will be won or lost for both teams will be on the San Diego offensive line. Currently the Chargers O-Line remains a massive question mark after last year’s struggles and recent turnover at the position. The Texans pressure the quarterback like no other team in the league, and with J.J. Watt and blitzes from Brian Cushing, Philip Rivers will struggle. The pressure has historically thrown Rivers off, and expect the Texans to take full advantage of this beginning early in the first quarter.
Little fanfare has surrounded Houston before their first game but that should change after tonight. They remain legitimate contenders and should easily dispose of a Chargers team that’s been stalling for years. Over the past three years, Houston is the best team in the NFL on first downs, averaging 6.9 yards per play, and Matt Schaub and company will burn the San Diego defense early and often tonight. Andre Johnson and the recently cleared DeAndre Hopkins are too much for the Chargers secondary, and if not, the duo of Foster and Tate should be able to power run all over the San Diego front-seven. Laying points on the road in Week 1 can be difficult, but with the multitude of ways in which the Texans can beat you, expect Houston to turn up in a big way.
PICK = Houston -4 (-110)