Let's try to make some optimal decisions as to how to begin the new season with a win. First bit of advice: Don't bet teams. Bet numbers.
Tonight's game is a tough test for the Houston Texans, which is now up to +10 at some sportsbooks, but still are priced at +9.5 at SPREADS.CA
Clearly, by any metric, Kansas City is a much better team. But can they cover nearly a double-digit number with so many unknowns and distractions leading up to this much-anticipated contest?
As tempting as the underdog Texans are getting +9.5, if you do bet the Texans you should try and find +10. Hence, I think the much wiser play is Houston +4.5 in the first half.
Let me explain why.
Kansas City's feared home-field advantage is minimized tonight with the number of spectators capped at 16,000 fans. So, that's definitely a plus for the visiting underdog.
Houston also might be just a little hungrier and has more to prove, especially given their season-ending visit here last January when they blew a 17-0 lead and ended up getting blown out by 20 points. Final score: 51-31.
But as a football bettor, I'm not going to step in front of a roaring freight train, especially for a full game. No – so, the better wager tonight is to play the Texans early in the game, which will still be confident and mindful of last year's effort when they had Kansas City on the ropes until the middle of the second quarter.
Indeed, for whatever reason, the high-octane Chiefs sputtered and started out slowly in all three playoff games, down by double digits at one point in all contests including the Super Bowl during the first half. That oddity could be just an aberration with small sample size and something to be addressed by head coach Andy Reid and his staff.
But for this one night and single game, I see an edge with the Texans getting generous points in the first half. Perhaps Houston collapses again in the second half when Kansas City begins to click on all cylinders. But, they should be in this contest early. It also helps to win on some key numbers, including the +3 and +4.
In terms of experience, both quarterbacks have started a similar number of games, and know their respective offenses very well. Houston's defense might be a little better, but Kansas City certainly enjoys a huge edge in yardage gained and points scored when they have the ball. On his best days, D. Watson is capable of matching P. Mahomes' multi-dimensional threats with mobility and accuracy. And yes, I do understand the Texans lost arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL in a trade during the off-season. But they've also had plenty of time to prepare.
I see this as a strong play, made even more convincing by all the randomness and intangibles of the most unusual preseason in NFL history. It's hard to predict which teams and units will be most impacted. I'm willing to take a flyer on the notion that players know this will be a long season and some caution may be in store early, so getting a nice number of points in the first half strikes me as a value.