Monday Night Football Doubleheader Offers a Super Bowl Contender in New Orleans but No Antonio Brown in Oakland

Posted on: September 8, 2019, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: September 9, 2019, 01:22h.

The first week of the National Football League wraps up on Monday night with a primetime doubleheader. The first game features a team considered by many as a likely pick for the Super Bowl. The second involves a team that found itself in the headlines throughout the preseason, but not for anything that happened on the field.

For posterity, here’s an image of Antonio Brown in a Raiders uniform. His new old team opens the 2019 NFL season Monday night when the Raiders host the Denver Broncos in Oakland. (Image: Rick Scuteri/AP)

The opening game takes place at the Mercedes Benz Superdome, where the New Orleans Saints will host the Houston Texans. The nightcap takes us to Oakland’s RingCentral Coliseum, where the Raiders kick off their last season in the Bay Area by hosting AFC West rival Denver Broncos.

The Texas-Saints will begin at 7:10 pm ET, and the Raiders-Broncos will start at 10:20 pm ET.

Both games will air on ESPN.

Texans-Saints Preview

In New Orleans, fans still brew about a blown pass interference call in last season’s playoffs that squashed the Saints chances of going to the Super Bowl. However, it seems like they have everything in place to make another run, perhaps the last one, though, for 40-year-old quarterback Drew Brees.

In 2018, New Orleans was one of only three teams to score more than 500 points in the regular season, and the Saints also led the league in margin of victory, winning by an average of nearly 9.5 points en route to a 13-3 record.

With running back Alvin Kamara and receiver Michael Thomas back, Brees retains his two biggest weapons from last season. That’s a major reason why the Saints are among the favorites to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.

FanDuel lists the Saints at +900, as does PointsBet, making them the third choice on both books’ Super Bowl futures boards. William Hill offers them at +1200, the fifth choice on its board.

Houston, meanwhile, saw its chances to win the AFC South for the fourth time in five years improve tremendously after Andrew Luck’s surprising retirement from the Indianapolis Colts during the exhibition season. However, the Texans have to deal with a recent loss as well, as they just traded star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle.

New Orleans is a 6.5-point favorite at most sportsbooks, with the over/under point total hovering between 52 and 52.5 at the books.

Broncos-Raiders Preview

Over in Oakland, the main storyline for the game will feature a player who won’t be there. The Antonio Brown melodrama reached a conclusion on Saturday when Brown – who is equal parts game-changing receiver and team-wrecking basket case – asked for, and received, his release after learning the fines he received for his preseason antics voided the guaranteed millions in his contract.

Hours later, he agreed to a new contract with Super Bowl favorite New England.

Acquired in an off-season trade from the Steelers, the four-time All-Pro receiver ended up leaving Oakland a year ahead of the Raiders, who – in case you weren’t aware – will move to Las Vegas next season.

Derek Carr remains the quarterback. But I know more about Brown’s frostbitten feet, helmet issues, quarrels with management, and ability to record phone conversations than I do about what talent remains around the veteran signal caller. I don’t think I’m alone on this.

For Denver, it marks the regular season debut of Vic Fangio as the Broncos coach. Another newcomer, veteran quarterback Joe Flacco, hopes to show the league he can still start after being replaced by Lamar Jackson last year in Baltimore.

While there are questions about Flacco, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will guide a Broncos defense that should keep the team competitive throughout the season.

When rumors swirled late last week about Brown possibly being suspended for the game after a run-in with Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock, the line moved from a pick-em to the Broncos becoming a 2.5-point favorite. That’s where the line has stayed since he was cut.

The over/under on points is 42.5 at most books.