Why waste a single day not improving yourself? The San Diego Chargers needed a lot of improvement, and thanks to some last-minute wheeling and dealing, they might not be totally screwed when they face the Houston Texans Monday night (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Qualcomm Stadium. But does that explain the way the NFL Odds are moving for this matchup?
Hard to say. When we first looked at the football odds for the second of our two Monday Night Football games, the Texans were laying 3.5 points on the road. Continued action on Houston moved that NFL point spread to –4, but by Wednesday afternoon, we were back to –3.5. The Texans also dipped from –200 to –190 on the moneyline.
That’s an interesting mid-week development given the relative lack of news coming out of either camp. Perhaps we have some daring handicappers who are willing to follow the Week 1 NFL betting trend that says non-playoff teams are 38-22-1 ATS against teams that made the postseason. Or maybe the football betting market has simply reached its saturation point for this game. Far be it from me to speculate.
Yeah, right. Let’s speculate away, and look instead at what did happen this week: San Diego added some sorely needed depth on defense, plucking DT Drake Nevis and LB Terrell Manning off the waiver wire and sending a conditional draft pick to the Dallas Cowboys for DT Sean Lissemore. The Chargers also gave their special teams a lift by signing LB Reggie Walker, who was a captain last year with the Arizona Cardinals.
None of these signings is important enough to move the NFL lines by itself. But taken as a package, these moves by new GM Tom Telesco address specific weaknesses on San Diego’s roster. Telesco himself figures to be an upgrade over A.J. Smith, who wore out his welcome after playing hardball one too many times with his star players during contract negotiations. Same goes for former Denver Broncos offensive co-ordinator Mike McCoy, who takes over as head coach for the departed Norv Turner.
Meanwhile, there is one other relatively minor piece of news coming out of Houston, where promising rookie LG David Quessenberry suffered a broken foot in practice and may end up on injured reserve. Quessenberry was a sixth-round pick out of San Jose State, so again, not the kind of news that will turn the NFL betting world on its ear. But Houston has already had to put three of this year’s draft picks on injured reserve: RT Brennan Williams (third round), DE Trevardo Williams (fourth round), and WR Alan Bonner (sixth round).
Houston’s offensive line just happens to have a few issues on the right side. The Texans look more than fine with LT Duane Brown and center Chris Myers protecting QB Matt Schaub, but the run blocking could use an upgrade from RT Derek Newton. And if there’s one thing that Houston fans are worried about this year (besides those eternally overlooked special teams, which ranked dead last in the NFL), it’s RB Arian Foster, who saw his yards per carry drop from 4.9 in 2010 to 4.1 last year.
The Texans still have plenty to offer in this matchup, so I’m not quite ready to bail on them just yet. But I’ll be watching Monday night to see how their offensive line performs against San Diego’s improved defense. Did I mention that DE/LB Dwight Freeney (107.5 career sacks with the Indianapolis Colts) is in town? Now I have.
NFL Pick: Take the Texans –3.5 (–105) at Matchbook