The San Diego Chargers have lost a lot of defensive players during the offseason, which could lead to a high-scoring season opener against the Houston Texans.

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Let’s take a closer look at the NFL betting odds for this Week 1 AFC matchup at Qualcomm Stadium on Monday, Sept. 9, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 10:20 p.m. ET on ESPN.

High hopes

Houston finished with a 12-4 straight up (SU) and 9-7 against-the-spread (ATS) record in 2012, but was eliminated from the playoffs in the AFC divisional round—suffering a 41-28 defeat to the New England Patriots as 9.5-point road underdogs.

The Texans possess one of the more talented rosters in the NFL, which is clearly evident in ranking in the upper half of all four major statistical categories a season ago.

Wholesale changes at the top

Image previewSan Diego was mediocre at best a year ago, as it compiled a 7-9 SUATS record, while scoring the same amount of points that it allowed through 16 games.

Mike McCoy has taken over for Norv Turner at the head coaching position, with former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt entering as the offseason coordinator. Defensive coordinator John Pagano returns in the same position he held in 2012.

The Chargers have lost a lot of defensive players during the offseason, which could lead to a high-scoring season opener against the Houston Texans. San Diego could be one of the surprise teams in the NFL if McCoy is able to adjust quickly to his new responsibilities, as he spent last year in Denver as the team’s offensive coordinator with Peyton Manning.

Injuries always a concern

NFL handicappers need to keep a close eye on the injury report in Houston, as the team has been known to battle an ailment or two in recent years. 

Linebacker Brian Cushing is on the road back from an ACL tear that he suffered during the 2012 regular season, while running back Arian Foster continues to suffer nagging leg injuries (calf).

Former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed is one of the team’s main offseason acquisitions, but he’ll enter next month’s training camp just a few months removed from hip surgery.

Keeping Rivers upright

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times last year, which led directly to his worst statistical season since 2007. However, he still managed to throw for 3,606 yards and 26 touchdowns with 15 interceptions.

San Diego is confident the unit will be better in 2013, especially with the signing of former Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Max Starks.


Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers take a look at the total as one of their early Week 1 NFL picks, as the Chargers have lost numerous players on the defensive end, which could lead to a lot of points being scored by a capable Texans offense.

Keep an eye on this unit during camp and preseason play, as it moves on without Antoine Cason, Quintin Jammer and Shaun Phillips, while also replacing the injured Melvin Ingram.

NFL Pick: Over 46 points at William Hill

Also in Texas, the Giants will be facing the Cowboys during the first week of the upcoming season. Be sure to review our ongoing NFL Week 1 coverage!