NFL Picks, Odds: Expert Makes Seahawks vs Vikings Prediction (Thursday, Aug. 10)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Drew Lock.
Texans vs. Patriots
C.J. Stroud will get the start for the Texans and is expected to play 2-3 drives, which should give him the entire first quarter. Stroud is an NFL-ready prospect who has pinpoint accuracy and tends to stay in the pocket, despite being a good athlete, so he will need talented players around him in order to succeed.
Luckily, Stroud will be playing with the first unit, which means the Texans offense should be pretty efficient in the first quarter. Davis Mills is expected to follow Stroud and possibly play into the third quarter with Case Keenum playing for the remainder of the game.
The Texans are a team that will be playing a fringe NFL-starting-caliber QB for the entire game. While their WR depth chart is one of the worst in the league for the regular season, it should be solid for Week 1 of the preseason because of the mixture of mediocre veterans and rookies who have potential. There won’t be as many preseason-only scrubs running routes for the Texans tonight. As a result, they should have fairly consistent production throughout the game.
The Patriots are expected to rest the starters (if Mac Jones ends up starting and playing 1-2 drives it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing to ever happen), so we can expect Bailey Zappe to get the start, along with the second unit. I’m expecting Zappe to essentially play the entire first half. Trace McSorley will likely be next up for the Pats, and this is when the Texans will start to have a pretty big edge over New England.
McSorley is more of a fringe No. 2/3 type of backup who has struggled in preseason action with a 6.0 yards per attempt/71.5 QB Rating over 193 career attempts. He does have some rushing upside, but don’t confuse him for Justin Fields. There's a chance he plays most of, if not all of, the 2nd half.
Waiting in the wings will be Malik Cunningham who is an athletic QB from Louisville who is attempting to convert to a WR. He’s been practicing mostly as a WR but has recently been getting some reps at QB. When Bill Belichick was asked about Cunningham getting playing time under center, he said, “Yeah, we will see”. Thanks, Bill.
The game flow appears like the 1st half should be fairly even with Stroud/Mills vs. Zappe (and the second unit). The Texans should certainly be slight favorites, so -2.5 sounds about right. The total should be a bit higher in the first half considering we likely won’t see any true scrubs under center and 19.5 looks about right, so I may even lean towards the over.
However, it’ll be the second half where I think we could see some value on the Texans.
Right now, it looks like the implied second-half spread will be the Texans -1, which is too low. That is when I believe the Texans will have the biggest edge. While Mills and Keenum are below-average QBs during the regular season, having them under center in the second half of the opening week of preseason is a much better situation for them to thrive. The Texans are evaluating their entire WR room, so there is a chance they will have talented rookies like Tank Dell, John Metchie or Xavier Hutchison at their disposal as well.
The second half is when McSorely and possibly Cunningham will be under center for the Patriots, throwing the ball to Raleigh Webb, Thyrick Pitts and Matt Sokol.
I’ll be looking to bet Texans second half at anything -2.5 or lower (depending on game flow, if my QB rotations for the 1st half lined up).
Vikings vs. Seahawks
The Vikings are expected to rest their starters which means we should see Nick Mullens draw the start and play most of the first half. First-round pick Jordan Addison is expected to start, which means Mullens will have a legit WR to throw to — at least for the first couple of drives.
Jaren Hall will likely play the entire second half and may even check in for Mullens before halftime. Either way, the Vikings want Hall to get a good amount of reps tonight. He’s a fifth-round rookie out of BYU who could struggle as a passer in his debut, but he has the rushing ability to bail himself out if needed. At this point in the game, Hall will likely only have second- or third-team WRs out there, which could add to his struggles.
The Seahawks are also expected to rest their starters and give Drew Lock the start at quarterback. He’s expected to get a ton of playing time tonight, which means he should play the entire first half and possibly even play into the third quarter. It’ll be undrafted rookie Holton Ahlers out of East Carolina who will be under center once Lock checks out. Ahlers gives me Dollar Store Tim Tebow vibes. He has some rushing upside, but it’ll be interesting to see how he fares at the NFL level. He'll also be throwing to third-team scrubs once he’s in the game.
As you can see from the table above, the flow for this matchup is pretty even on both sides. It’ll be Mullens/second unit vs. Drew Lock/second unit in the first half, with Hall/scrubs vs. Ahlers/scrubs in the second half. The Seahawks should be slight favorites in the first half since they're at home and it’s much more likely Lock plays the entire half while Mullens could give way to Hall before halftime.
However, it’s baffling to me that the first-half total of 16.5 is lower than the implied second total of 18.5 since it should probably be the other way around.
I’m going to lock in the first-half over at 16.5 and then possibly take the second-half under if it’s 16.5 or higher. The second could be pretty ugly in this one with Hall vs. Ahlers. DraftKings had 16.5 posted as of Thursday afternoon, but I'm not sure how long that will last.