Thursday Night Football Week 1 Picks: Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs
The 2020 season sees a step into the unknown for coaches, players, fans and bettors alike. Covid regulations saw a training camp like never before and the “new normal” now seeps into the regular season. The last time the Texans visited Arrowhead they flew out of the blocks to a 21-0 lead before Patrick Mahomes caught fire and led the Chiefs to a comeback and eventual 51-31 win. That day, the Texans players were caught in a spin as 76,000 Chiefs fans lit up the stadium inspired by their brilliant Quarterback. Would that comeback have happened without the energy of those 76,000 to feed off? How much should a bettor factor in the new normal when approaching these games? In truth, nobody knows, and as such any picks made in Week 1 and the early part of the season come with an asterisk and little extra seed of doubt.
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How will the game shape up?
Both the Texans and the Chiefs go into the season with similar line-ups and systems to last year, so in theory they should be less affected by the pandemic hit off season.
This is a contest between two top-class offenses. Superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins is a loss for the Texans, but their receiving corps still looks one of the better units in the league and they shouldn’t struggle to put up points this season. Reigning Super Bowl champions, Kansas City retain all their receiving talent and may just have taken their running game to the next level in the draft.
Both teams are blessed with brilliant quarterbacks and they will fancy their chances to open 2020 in style, as neither the Chiefs nor the Texans possess a top level defense. Normally, I’d say this game has shootout written all over it and be backing in the total points market, taking the over 53.5 at 10/11 with BetFred. Last year’s fixtures produced 55 and 82 points respectively, and everything points towards another high-scoring contest. However, the nagging doubt of the vastly reduced attendance and its potential impact on the intensity of the game is something I can’t escape and takes my attention to the player props market.
Banking on an impact from the rookie
The standout selection comes in the form of first round rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire to eclipse the 49.5 rushing yards line (10/11 SkyBet). The LSU recruit was sensational in his final year of college football and was the first running back taken in the draft as a result. He looks the nailed-on number one running back in Kansas with Damien Williams having opted out and makes his NFL debut against a defense that gave up 121.1 yards per game on the ground last season (25th in the NFL). Additionally, they may be even worse in this area given the loss of D.J. Reader.
All the signs point to a big debut for Edwards-Helaire; he has the ability, the right opponent, and should see enough snaps to go past the half century of yards on the ground.
SELECTION – CLYDE EDWARDS HELAIRE OVER 49.5 RUSHING YARDS (10/11 SkyBet).
MICHAEL’S INTEREST IN THE NFL BECAME AN OBSESSION ONCE HIS ATTENDANCE AT SUNDAY DINNER WAS NO LONGER MANDATORY, HE FOLLOWS THE RAVENS AND HAS A SOFT SPOT FOR THE DOLPHINS. YOU CAN FIND HIM ON TWITTER @NORBURYMIKE.