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Sports news with a Vegas perspective.

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NFL Friday Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints Preview: Start Time, Odds, Free Pick

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Week 3 of the NFL Preseason continues on Friday night as the Houston Texans travel to Louisiana to take on the New Orleans SaintsThe game is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) start time and it will be televised live locally. Currently the odds for the game have New Orleans favored by 3 points for the game, while the total sits at 43.5. Currently 79% of the Public is on the Texans, while 98% is on the Over. Find out what side the Public is taking on all the games by clicking HERE.

Free Analysis: Through the first two weeks of this preseason, the Houston Texans' defense has shown no drop-off whatsoever after fielding one of the NFL's fiercest units on that side of the ball in 2011. Wade Phillips' group may be facing its toughest task to date, however, when the Texans head to the Superdome for a showdown with Drew Brees and the high- powered New Orleans Saints. In its first year under the command of Phillips, whose father (Bum) served as the Saints' head coach from 1981-85, the Houston defense yielded the second- fewest yards allowed in the NFL while ranking third overall against the pass, fourth versus the run and fourth in points surrendered. It's been more of the same for the Texans early on in Phillips' second year, with the team presently standing second in both total defense (208.0 ypg) and sacks (10) in preseason play. Houston stood tall in their 17-9 win over the Niners last week, despite being without a pair of starters on the defensive line, end J.J. Watt (dislocated elbow) and nose tackle Shaun Cody (back strain). Neither will be in uniform as well for Saturday's challenge from a Saints squad that's expected to have Brees and the healthy members of the first-team offense out on the field for at least the entire first half. Brees lit up the Texans for 370 yards and three touchdowns to lift New Orleans to a thrilling 40-33 victory over Houston at the Superdome during Week 3 of the 2011 regular season. The Texans allowed their highest point and total yardage (454) amounts of the year in that defeat. Houston quarterback Matt Schaub was also on point in that game, amassing 373 yards and throwing for three scores in a losing cause. The trusty veteran was equally as good in last weekend's tune-up against the 49ers, completing 11- of-14 attempts for 128 yards and connecting with young wide receiver Lestar Jean for a nine-yard touchdown late in the first half. Brees was in usual form in New Orleans' most recent outing, with the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year hitting on 10-of-13 throws for 133 yards and a touchdown in the Saints' 27-24 loss to Jacksonville at Superdome. Backup Chase Daniel also delivered an extremely crisp effort, accumulating 185 yards and two scores on 16-of-21 passing. New Orleans' defense didn't have as good a night, with Jacksonville quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Jordan Palmer combining for three touchdown passes and the Jaguars rushing for 170 yards. The Saints also lost three of their top four linebackers during the contest, with Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and Chris Chamberlain all exiting with injuries. New Orleans did make a move towards bolstering depth in that area, acquiring veteran Barrett Ruud in a trade with Seattle on Tuesday.  The Saints were also in the news with Wednesday's announcement that offensive line coach Aaron Kromer will serve as the club's interim head coach for the first six games of the upcoming regular season. Kromer will be filling in for Joe Vitt, who'll take over for the suspended Sean Payton for the remainder of the year but was handed a punishment of his own following the NFL's investigation of New Orleans' infamous bounty program.

Free Pick: I will take a look at the Under in this one. The last time these teams met this Houston team was shredded by the Saints and had their worst defensive performance of the year. So far in the preseason they have looked very good on defense and will look to erase the memories of last year's game. On offense I look for the Houston running game to crank it up vs a New Orleans team that allowed Jacksonville 170 yards on the ground last week. A lot of running and defense by Houston should keep this one under the total.

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