Thursday Night Football is back! The 2020 NFL season kicks off with a match-up between two young, mobile quarterbacks with strong arms, top-10 pass-blocking offensive lines and mid-to-low tier defences. The Texans are especially weak on the back-end with the first and fifth worst cornerbacks in the league at dropping into coverage. The speed of Tyreek Hill and Hardman might open up space for the perennial Pro Bowl tight end Kelce to exploit the middle of the field against a linebacking unit that was one of the ten worst in tight-end coverage throughout the 2019 season. The Texans haven't invested in any significant defensive upgrades and will struggle to apply any pressure on to Mahomes, a generational talent at quarterback, unless JJ Watt returns to his peak form. Without Watt in the lineup, the Texans concede 1.3 more yards a carry, and allow 0.6 yards per play more than when he is active.
The Texans lost one of the league's premier wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins in a trade that sent some draft capital and David Johnson in the other direction. Analysts across the NFL lauded the Arizona Cardinals, Hopkins' new employer, for exploiting Houston's reluctance to enter into contract negotiations for a player primed to be paid the largest non-QB salary in the league. ESPN have Houston as an outside chance of the AFC South title at 20.9%, with a
36.5% chance to make the playoffs. It is plausible to suggest that the Texans outperformed their 2019 statistical finish of 10-6, winning 8 of those games by one score or less. A statistical adjustment for winning margin suggests that 8-8 was a fairer representation of their base ability. They finished middle of the pack in points per game (14th) and points allowed (19th). They were also the only playoff team with a negative points differential.
By contrast, Kansas have retained all of their star players and have the vast majority of their roster returning in a bid to follow up their 2019 Superbowl win. What is remarkable about that season is that they managed to achieve this feat with multiple injuries to key players. Star wide receiver Tyreek Hill was injured until week 6, after playing a cameo in the season opener. Hall of fame left tackle Eric Fisher missed 9 weeks of football, the top two running backs on their depth chart were both out by week 12 and top-3 QB Mahomes was banged-up through week five and missed two games due to a foot injury. Going into 2020, the Chiefs sit atop of most power rankings, fighting for the elite spot with the Baltimore Ravens. They boast an almost identical chance to win the Superbowl (20.9%) that the Texans have to top their division. They are close to a certainty to make the playoffs (93.5%) and strong favourites for a weak looking AFC West (80.2%).
The handicap line for the 2020 season's first game opened in Asia and on the exchanges at around 10 points but has slowly drifted to Kansas -9 to -9.5 at even money. The total points line has settled at 53 with Pinnacle Sports. It is plausible to suggest that lack of training time reduces the quality-differential between teams. However, the market expects a relatively high points total which seems slightly contradictory. Bookielink's partners are offering market-best prices on the asian handicap -9.5 line and the over/under line. Get in touch with us to find out more.