The day has finally arrived. For the first time since early-February, there is an NFL game on the schedule for today. It’s the day NFL fans and bettors alike have been eagerly anticipating for months. While there was some question about whether this season would be played at all, the season kicks off tonight with the Chiefs hosting the Texans in Kansas City.
Of course, these two teams met at Arrowhead Stadium in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in January. In case you forgot, the Texans built a stunning 24-0 first-half lead over the heavily-favored Chiefs, only to allow Patrick Mahomes and co. to roar back and take the lead before halftime. It was all Chiefs from there, as Kansas City wound up winning a laugher, 51-31.
Mahomes would then go on to lead the Chiefs past the Titans and 49ers to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl title in 50 years. What can Kansas City do for an encore? Can the Texans bounce back following that humiliating defeat? BetOnline has the Chiefs as sizable 9.5-point favorites at home over Houston in Week 1.
Chiefs Open as Super Bowl Favorites
The Chiefs were the betting favorite to win Super Bowl 54 before last season started, but a middling start to the season coupled with an injury to Patrick Mahomes sent their odds tumbling. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens lit the league on fire in the meantime, so it didn’t take long for Baltimore to overtake Kansas City among title favorites.
Unfortunately, we were deprived of that Jackson-Mahomes playoff duel, as the Ravens were upset by the Titans in the Divisional Round. While oddsmakers are still bullish on Baltimore’s chances (+650), it’s the Chiefs who begin 2020 as the betting favorite to win Super Bowl 55. BetOnline has Mahomes and co. as +600 favorites to go back-to-back.
The Chiefs had running back Damien Williams opt out of playing this season, which should put rookie tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire atop the depth chart. Edwards-Helaire was one of the most explosive playmakers in the nation during his time at LSU, and the Chiefs adding another dynamic weapon like that to this offense almost seems unfair. Mahomes will still have Tyreek Hill running deep routes, with Travis Kelce serving as his reliable go-to option over the middle of the field.
The loss of Williams may hurt, but Mahomes still has more than enough weaponry at his disposal to make this the Chiefs one of the most potent offenses in football once again. Kansas City went 13-5-1 against the spread last season (including playoffs), which was the best mark in football.
Texans’ Offensive Question Marks
The Texans made the most questionable move of any team during the offseason when they shockingly shipped All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals. All they got in return was a future second-rounder and a potentially past-his-prime running back in David Johnson. Hopkins has been one of the most productive receivers in football over the past several years, yet the Texans traded him for very little in return.
Deshaun Watson is one of the premier young quarterbacks in football, and the Texans do still have capable pass-catchers in Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, and Kenny Stills. There are health question marks with Fuller considering he seems to miss several games a season due to injury, but when healthy he and Watson have formed a good big-play partnership.
The spread opened at Chiefs -10, which means sharp money on the Texans has pushed the line down to 9.5. While the public will be biased in favor of Kansas City after throttling the Texans by 20 points in January, games at the beginning of the season tend to be closer.
Let’s not forget Houston was a playoff team last year, and they’re not necessarily expected to be some also-ran this season. The Hopkins trade may have turned Bill O’Brien into a laughingstock, but there is still plenty of talent on this roster.
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs Pick
Assuming the line stays where it is, the Texans will be the biggest Week 1 underdog on the spread since 2000 for a team that qualified for the postseason the year before. Let’s also not forget the Texans actually went into Kansas City and picked up a victory over Mahomes and the Chiefs earlier last season. It’s not totally unprecedented.
It will also be interesting to see how the unique circumstances of this season affect play. Teams have had no preseason games to prepare, and the Chiefs will only have around 16,000 fans in attendance due to safety protocols. While there should still be a home-field advantage for Kansas City, it may not be nearly as pronounced as it normally might be.
While betting on the Texans to win the game outright is at least a little interesting given the +360 moneyline odds, the safer play is to bet on Houston to cover the spread. Sharp bettors have already pushed the line in Houston’s direction, and it could move even further as we get closer to kickoff. I think there’s excellent value in the Texans at +9.5 here. They’re being underrated by the general public.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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