Rovell: Bookmakers Rooting for Texans to Cover in What Could Be Most-Bet NFL Regular Season Game Ever
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If the line holds, the Houston Texans will be the biggest Opening Night underdog since the NFL started standalone openers in 2002.
Depending on the sportsbook (check our updated NFL odds page to shop for the best number), the Texans are between +9 and +9.5, which is actually down a bit from some opening lines that had the Chiefs as double-digit favorites.
Here are some news and notes from around the industry on the NFL opener:
Thursday Night Updates
The Most Expensive Promo Ever? You may have heard: DraftKings Sportsbook is giving all users — both new and existing — the chance to bet the Chiefs +101 points tonight against the Texans. (Yes, a 101-point spread.) DraftKings spokesperson Stephen Miraglia told The Action Network that the company figures the promotion — which will pay out $45.45 to everyone who bet the max of $50 — will cost in the $10 million range.
K.C. Action Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop. As the game draws closer, the public isn’t shying away from betting the Chiefs. “The public remembers last year and they can’t see how the Chiefs don’t play like they did then,” said DraftKings bookmaker Johnny Avello. “They could seemingly get behind by any margin and still go on to win.”
Because a lot of parlay and teaser bets also roping in Kansas City, Avello said his book, like most, will need a Texans cover and would love Texans outright victory.
Unsurprisingly, DK is also see an influx of action on the Over. “People don’t like to bet on the under,” Avello said. “They want an exciting game and if they are out of it early, they want to have something to root for.” Despite the public action on the Over, DraftKings has actually moved the total down to 53 after opening at 55 back in July.
As you can imagine, the interest in this game is absurdly high. A few weeks ago we didn’t know if we were going to get an NFL game, so bettors are not taking this game for granted.
“We’ve already exceeded last year’s opening game,” PointsBet’s Patrick Eichner said of his outfit’s handle. “We expect the action to continue as we get closer to kickoff. It could very well be our biggest NFL regular season game ever.”
Sportsbooks Rooting for the Texans
Unsurprisingly, the defending Super Bowl Champs are a very popular bet on Thursday night. Kansas City was a public darling in 2019 and something tells me that won’t be slowing down after winning the Lombardi Trophy.
“We need the Texans, the Chiefs covering is no good for us,” PointsBet’s Patrick Eichner said. “We’re strongly rooting for the Under as well.”
Even though the Chiefs are a very popular favorite, Eichner doesn’t think that we’ll see the line cross through the key number of 10.
There are a couple of trends that point to Houston’s direction. Since 2003, teams favored by more than a touchdown in Week 1 are 10-25 against the spread (ATS).
The Texans also have one of the best underdog quarterbacks in the NFL. In fact, DeShaun Watson is the most profitable quarterback in the league as a pooch since his debut in 2017.
Even so, bettors are not too enthused about betting Bill O’Brien’s team, especially on the moneyline, which is sitting between +340 and +370. FanDuel reports that only 15% of the money is on the Texans’ moneyline, while DraftKings has it a little higher at 22%.
Sharps vs. Squares
The over/under is also providing an interesting betting narrative.
As is often the case in high-profile games, the public is on the over. This total ticked as high as 56.5 before being bet down to 53.5 at DraftKings early on Thursday afternoon.
As PJ Walsh noted in Thursday’s Sharp Report, the falling total is in contrast to the market. According to The Action Network’s data, just 39% of the dollars compared to 61% of the bets are on the over. That, along with the movement, is a good sign that respected money has hit the under.
William Hill’s Nick Bogdanovich backs up that notion saying that he’s taking heavy bets, including a $12,000 play, on the Under.
It’s worth noting that only four games went over 54 points during the entire 2019 season but three of them involved the Chiefs and one of them was Houston vs. KC, which ended 51-31 in favor of the Chiefs.