The NFL’s return is finally here and the first game on the slate features the defending champions on Thursday Night Football.
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- Chiefs (-9) vs. Texans
- Over/Under: 53.0
*Odds via DraftKings
Kansas City will take on Houston, a team that has made a bevy of unexplainable offseason moves, as Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz and I recently discussed on the Desktop GM podcast (there’s still time to grab the Football Outsiders’ Almanac; it’s filled with must-read info to have a profitable NFL season).
Houston went 10-6 last season, though their Pythagorean expectation suggests the 2019 Texans should have won 7.8 games on average. The Texans went 8-3 in one-score games last year, a trend that’s unlikely to continue regardless of how masterful Deshaun Watson is behind center.
Given that Houston only led for approximately 37.1% of the time on the field, expecting this club to make the playoffs again is a tall task and the regression could start in Week 1.
Chiefs-Texans Betting Notes
- There will be fans at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night, as Kansas City is allowed 22% occupancy (or roughly 17,000 fans).
- Sharp money has moved the over/under down from 55 (where it opened) to 53.5, as PJ Walsh of the Action Network shares. Kansas City beat Houston in the playoffs by a score of 51-31 with the Texans getting out to a 21-0 lead. Patrick Mahomes was forced to sling it out to come back in the contest, though if Houston doesn’t find early success, Kansas City may simply rely on their run game more late and it could put a ceiling on the over.
- New Texans receiver Brandin Cooks appears to be a game-time decision, though if he does make his debut, expect his snap count to be limited (via The Athletic’s Aaron Reiss). Cooks has been in-and-out of Texans’ camp and barely played with the team during 11-v-11 drills; not something that bodes well for his chances at having a strong connection with his new QB Deshaun Watson.
- Houston lost starting cornerback Gareon Conley, who was placed on IR, earlier this week. The Texans’ defense was 26th in DVOA last season.
- Travis Kelce was limited in practice earlier in the week but he’s a full go.
- PFT’s Mike Florio believes that with the lack of preseason, offenses will be ahead of defenses, leading to high scoring games in Week 1. He has Kansas City winning by a score of 41-38.
- Looking for a prop? Sean Koerner of the Action Network likes the Under on Texans TE Darren Fells‘ receiving total. The line is as low as 19.5 at some sportsbooks, though DraftKings has it at 23.5 as of this writing. In the 15 games he played last season, Fells average 28.2 yards in their 10 wins but only 11.8 yards per game in their five losses.