Week 1 NFL Thursday Night Football Betting Preview: Texans vs. Chiefs Odds & Picks
This year, the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs kick things off as Patrick Mahomes hosts familiar AFC foes, Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans, on Thursday Night Football, Sept. 10.
The last time these two teams met was in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, a game that still haunts Texans fans nine months later.
Deshaun Watson and the Texans sprinted to a 24-0 lead in the first half before Mahomes fired back with four touchdown passes, three to tight end Travis Kelce, in the final 10 minutes of the second quarter.
The rest was history.
Kansas City’s AFC divisional round victory avenged a regular-season loss to the Texans in Week 6, and the Chiefs parlayed that momentum into their first AFC Championship and Super Bowl since 1969,
Week 1 Thursday Night Football will mark the third time the Texans play against the 2018 NFL MVP inside the confines of Arrowhead Stadium since Week 6 of 2019.
TNF Week 1: Texans vs. Chiefs Betting Odds
A lot has happened since the Chiefs and Texans last met, such as Mahomes signing the largest contract in NFL history and becoming part-owner of the Kansas City Royals.
The one thing that hasn’t changed? Texans head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien making questionable personnel decisions.
As a result, the Texans will be without what, next to Deshaun Watson, had been the most pivotal piece of their offense for the better part of the last decade.
Despite Hopkins’ departure, the spread and total at online sportsbooks are nearly identical when the Chiefs and Texans battled in January.
As you would assume, Hopkins played no small role in the Texans’ regular season over the Chiefs, hauling in 9 receptions on 12 targets. In their playoff loss, Hopkins matched his Week 6 reception count and eclipsed the 100-yard mark.
Houston acquired Randall Cobb and Brandon Cooks to help fill in the lost production, but O’Brien will soon find out that he took for granted arguably the best receiver.
Chiefs Lose Two Starters Due to Virus Concerns
The Texans aren’t the only ones missing starters from 2019.
Chiefs running back Damien Williams and guard Laurent Dvernay-Tardif have opted out of the 2020 season due to Covid-19 concerns.
Even with Williams and Tardif opting out, the Chiefs return 18 starters from their Super Bowl LIV, including wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who, rather than leaving Kansas City, took less money to stay with Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid.
Williams was the Chiefs’ leading rusher in 2019, and made a push for Super Bowl MVP as he combined for 134 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. In the playoff game against the Texans, Williams found the end zone three times.
Replacing Williams’ production will be easier than it sounds.
Williams, who became one of six players in NFL history to have two runs of at least 80 yards in a season, might have been the Chief’s leading rusher yet he saw double-digit carries only once before Weeks 1-8.
Kansas City used their first-round draft pick on LSU running back Clyde Edward-Helaire, who the Chiefs thought was an attractive prospect largely thanks to his pass-catching ability.
Edwards-Helaire was a popular futures bet to win Rookie of the Year long before Williams decided to opt-out. He should have success both on the ground and through the air as defenses allocate their resources to slow down Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce downfield.
2020 Chiefs & Texans NFL Futures, Odds, Picks
Speaking of futures bets, the Texans are +6500 to win the Super Bowl at BetMGM, a tad bit longer than they were this time last year.
With or without Hopkins, Deshaun Watson does give Texans fans a reason to be optimistic, at least as long as he’s in Houston.
The Texans are a longshot to win the Super Bowl but Watson, fresh off a career-high 33 touchdowns, is as short as +1700 to win NFL MVP at FanDuel Sportbook, behind only Mahomes (+380), Lamar Jackson (+700), Russell Wilson (+700) and Dak Prescott (+1200).
Watson has the type of upside bettors should be looking for when betting on NFL MVP: he throws the deep ball, can score with his legs, and though Hopkins is out, he has playmakers in Will Fuller and a Brandon Cooks.
Of course, it won’t be easy to beat out the likes of Mahomes, Jackson and potentially Tom Brady for the award, but I much prefer Watson this season over the favorites given the unprecedented circumstances of the 2020 season.
It’ll take double-digit wins for Watson to pull it off, which won’t be easy, as the Texans’ win total is down to 7.5, but we can bet on Watson +2500 at DraftKings. If they do get to 10 wins, Watson will undoubtedly make his way into the conversation.
Value on Chiefs Super Bowl Odds?
While I’m not interested in backing Mahomes to win MVP, I don’t mind getting chalky with the Chiefs +650 to win the Super Bowl at FanDuel.
I believe Mahomes is the most talented quarterback of all time and that the Chiefs offense is arguably the best we’ve ever seen. It’s one of the reasons why I bet on the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl in Week 11, when the Chiefs were just 6-4 and sportsbooks had them +1200 to raise the Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs ran the table from there, matching their 2018 regular-season record with 12 wins.
Right now the Chiefs are +650 to repeat, which is slightly longer pre-season odds than the Rams and Patriots had ahead of the 2019 season.
With Mahomes behind center, the Chiefs can be a dynasty. This particular team is every bit as good as they were last year. +650 is short—they are the favorite after all—but it’s still not short enough.
And if you’re looking at season-long player props, I’d err on the side of caution. In most cases I give the edge to the under due to the increased probability of players missing games this season.
Thursday Night Football NFL Betting Picks: Chiefs vs. Texans
Under head coach Andy Reid, the Kansas City Chiefs are 6-1 in season openers. For NFL betting purposes, Chiefs backers are 5-2 against the spread during that same span.
These trends typically have little relevance for bettors, but there is reason to believe Andy Reid prepares his teams for the start of the season better than other coaches. Look no further than his 18-3 regular season record after bye weeks. Moreover, Reid’s teams have dominated sportsbooks with a 17-7 record ATS (7-3 ATS with the Chiefs) including games after bye weeks during the playoffs. With fewer offseason workouts, no preseason games, etc., experience and leadership such as Reid’s is more important than ever. There’s no doubt he has the upper hand over O’Brien.
Using the RotoGrinders NFL odds comparison tool, we see Chiefs favored by 10 points at most online sports betting sites, with one exception. At FanDuel, the Chiefs are -9.5.
I have already locked in my Week 1 bet for the Chiefs but there are a few reasons to sit back and wait.
For one, we still don’t know how many fans will be in attendance in certain stadiums. The Chiefs currently plan to have 22% capacity in their nearly 77,000 seated stadium. There are whispers that the NFL is considering pumping fake crowd noise during games. I don’t expect much adjustment from sportsbooks but a quieter stadium does reduce home field advantage, and it just so happens Arrowhead Stadium is, under normal circumstances, one of the toughest places to play.
Secondly, and more concerning, is that Tyreek Hill left practice on Thursday with a right hamstring injury. Of course, Hill’s early absence in 2019 didn’t keep the Chiefs from covering the spread against Jacksonville, Oakland, or Baltimore
In fact, the Chiefs had six different leading receivers through the first six weeks in 2019, including Mecole Hardman, who used his speed to become the only rookie to score on an 80-yard touchdown catch and a 100-yard kick return in the same season.
In addition to Chiefs -9.5, I’m betting Over 54.5. Kansas City scored at least 23 points all but once in 2019, including both games against the Texans. While the Chiefs’ defense improved towards the end of the season and into the playoffs, a potentially quiet Arrowhead Stadium should aid both offenses on Thursday Night Football.
TNF NFL Betting Picks: Chiefs -9.5 (-115) , Over 54.5 (-110)
For more general NFL betting tips, check out our NFL betting guide.
Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images