Texans vs. Chiefs Odds & Pick: Don’t Fade Mahomes, Kansas City In NFL’s Thursday Season Opener
Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson
Chiefs vs. Texans Odds
|Chiefs Odds||-9 [BET NOW]|
|Texans Odds||+9 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||53 [BET NOW]|
|Kickoff||8:20 p.m. ET on Thursday|
Since the Chiefs opened as 10-point favorites for this season opener back in July, we’ve seen the spread slowly drift down to -9 despite significant action — 60% of the tickets and 69% of the money (find public betting data here) — coming in on Kansas City.
While it would be typical for sharp action to fade the defending Super Bowl champions by betting on them to not be as fortunate heading into the new season, I’m not so sure that’s the case here once we take a closer look at the 2019 Chiefs.
For starters, the Chiefs didn’t have Patrick Mahomes — who is worth +7.2 points to the spread in my NFL Power Ratings — for two games and then Tyreek Hill (+1.1 spread rating) for another four. That means they were without the most valuable quarterback/wide receiver duo in the NFL for 38% of the regular season.
The Chiefs also had the third-worst fumble luck in the league and went 5-4 in one-score games. In fact, its hard to find any one metric that you can expect Kansas City to regress in for 2020.
The Texans, on the other hand, benefited from a ton of luck in 2019.
Their 10-6 record was much better than their Pythagorean expectation of a 7.8-8.2 record. A lot of that discrepancy had to do with Houston’s 8-3 record in one-score games — we should typically expect any team to have about a .500 record in close games, meaning the Texans netted about 2.5 wins based on one-score game luck.
One of the more alarming stats from the Texans’ 2019 season was that they led only 37.1% of the time; you would expect a team that led at that rate to win about only 7.3 games.
All that said, I think the play here is Chiefs -9 given several additional factors.
First, Arrowhead Stadium will allow fans at a 22% capacity. That means there should be close to 17,000 fans in attendance on Thursday night, so I’m projecting the Chiefs to have about a 2.5-point home-field advantage as a result.
Second, the Texans will be without cornerback Gareon Conley, who was placed on Injured Reserve earlier this week — it’s never ideal to lose a starting corner just days before a matchup against the league’s top passing offense.
Finally, it sounds like Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks will be a game-time decision. If his quad injury keeps him out of this matchup, I’ll dock the Texans another 0.3 against the spread as Cooks would play a crucial part in their chances of getting a backdoor cover.
There’s no sense in waiting to see if the number will fall any further — it would need to drop two full points to hit the key number of 7. The most reasonable key number it could reach is 10, and I envision late action pushing it back up there.
As for the over/under, I’m right in line with the market at 54.5 points and would instead recommend focusing on the total in-game.
If the Texans jump out to an early lead on Thursday night, the scoring environment would favor the over, allowing Houston to attack Kansas City’s weak run defense and force Mahomes into “comeback mode.” Look no further than the 51-31 final of their Divisional Round matchup in the 2019 playoffs, when the Texans took a quick 21-0 lead.
If the Chiefs jump out to a fast start, though, it would shift the scoring environment to favor the under. Mahomes would take his foot off the gas (a bit) and the Chiefs defense would tee off on Deshaun Watson once the Texans were forced into a pass-heavy attack.
PICK: Chiefs -9; bet to -9.5
Sean Koerner is The Action Network’s Director of Predictive Analytics and has a 202-140-3 (59.1%) all-time record on NFL bets he’s tracked in The Action Network app.