The 2020 NFL season kicks off with an interesting game to handicap with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans Thursday at 8:20 p.m. ET.
It’s become a tradition in the Thursday night opener for the defending Super Bowl champion to have honors by teeing off first in front of their home fans. These have mostly been happy celebrations as the defending champs have gone 17-3 straight-up and 13-5-2 against the spread. So, it’s not surprising that the public is all over Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs as 9¹/₂-point home favorites.
Nevertheless, this line actually opened at Chiefs -10¹/₂ and we’ve seen sharp money come in on the Texans as sportsbooks have gradually lowered the price. That seems like the right move as that original line seemed overly inflated due to the public’s love of the Chiefs’ high-flying offense as well as KC coach Andy Reid’s long-standing reputation of winning when he has extra time to prepare for an opponent.
Besides, while most people focus on the Texans’ collapse when they famously blew a 24-0 lead over the Chiefs on the way to a 51-31 loss in the divisional playoffs when they last met in January, I like to see it as the fact that the Texans were good enough to build a 24-0 lead against such a good team. Houston traded star WR DeAndre Hopkins, but should still have a potent offense and be able to keep up with the Chiefs.
Granted, no lead is safe against Mahomes & Co., so the better bet might be Texans +6 in the first half, which was still available at some books as of Wednesday morning (mostly available at +5¹/₂), if you want to shorten the game and protect against what happened in the playoffs.
The Over/Under has also been bet down from the opening total of 55¹/₂ to 54¹/₂. That also seems like the right side since, although both teams have tons of offensive talent, we don’t know how sharp the offenses are going to be with limited training camps and no preseason games to get in sync.
The plays: Texans +9¹/₂ (possibly add Texans +6 in 1st half) and lean Under 54.5.
‘Thursday Night Football’ trends
VSIN’s Steve Makinen went back to 2012, when “Thursday Night Football” became a weekly constant, and mined data from a sample of 123 games.
- Home teams own a record of 74-49 SU and 63-54-6 ATS (53.8 percent). Amazingly, totals are nearly split at 61 Overs, 60 Unders and 2 pushes in that span.
- Since Week 7 of 2017, home teams on “TNF” own a fairly significant advantage of 28-11 SU and 24-12-3 ATS (66.7 percent), including a 5-2 SU and ATS run to close the 2019 season.
- Home favorites of seven points or more are on 22-2 SU and 17-5-2 ATS (77.3 percent) runs in Thursday games since the start of the 2014 season.
- Intraconference non-divisional games have gone the way of hosts recently, 12-2 SU and 9-3-2 ATS (75 percent) in the last 14.
- All but four of the last 18 “TNF” games with a total of 50 or greater went Under (14-4, 77.8 percent).