In order to get the tightest grasp on this game, we've enlisted the help of those who know these teams the best. Stephanie Stradley of the "Ultimate Texans Blog" and Matt Loede of "Chargers Gab" strap on the helmets and butt heads over which side will not only win Monday night but cover the spread on Monday Night Football.
WHY HOUSTON WILL COVER
Stephanie Stradley writes for the Ultimate Texans blog at the Houston Chronicle online. You can follow her on Twitter @StephStradley and read her personal blog at StephStradley.com.
More of the same
The Texans retained all their coaches and have consistent, proven schemes-coordinators on both sides of the ball since 2011. In 2012, this consistency led to them crushing opponents at the beginning of the year until injuries caught up to them. There is no surprise that in preseason play, even with backups playing most of games, that the Texans offense has led in time of possession, total offense, pass offense and fourth in rush offense.
Though J.J. Watt has been held out of most preseason snaps, in camp he's looked to be in Defensive Player of the Year form. His play acts like a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. At crucial times in games, he can erase even tough mistakes. He acts as a catalyst for the Texans defense and with Brian Cushing coming back from injury, Watt can take more chances knowing that Cushing can clean up behind him.
The Texans are the most balanced team in the league and can win at any style game. Their defense is capable of shutting down a team and their offense is capable of participating in a shootout. The Texans offense is one of the few that is strong with both passing and running, so defenses can't choose either to shut down. When the Texans won last year, they usually won big, which is the sign of a dominant team.
WHY SAN DIEGO WILL COVER
Matt Loede writes for Chargers Gab and the SportsGabNetwork.com. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @ChargersGab.
There’s some excitement around the Chargers with a new coach and a new look, and they have to take advantage of being at home on a Monday night to start the season. Run some misdirections, keep the Texans guessing. If they can keep the Texans on their toes with new looks on offense and control the overall tempo, taking some shots downfield, they have a good shot at keeping the game close and pulling off the win.
Trim the turnovers
The Chargers hurt themselves way too much with bad turnovers at tough points in games last season. That can’t happen in 2013, and more specifically in this game. They have to find a way not to make big mistakes and that starts with picks and putting the ball on the turf in critical points in the game. Phillip Rivers has to be careful with the ball and the Chargers need a couple of turnovers from Matt Schaub and the Texans offense, as well.
Let's get physical
Too many times in 2012 the Chargers seemed to get beat up at the line of scrimmage. The Texans have an attitude and a chip on their shoulder, but the Chargers can’t allow them to come into San Diego and be the more physical team. Both the offensive and defensive lines have to win the battles at the line of scrimmage and make a statement that they aren't going to let themselves be beat. It starts man-to-man on the lines, and for the Chargers, it’s a key to match the Texans in that department.
Join the debate. Who covers Monday night: Houston or San Diego?