Ever had one of those days where you just can’t choose between paper and plastic? That’s what the NFL odds market is like for Monday night’s tilt between the Houston Texans and San Diego Chargers. The NFL point spread has been switching back and forth between Houston –3.5 and Houston –4, and the moneyline has been doing the same little dance between –200 and –190.
Keep Feeling Saturation
All this flip-flopping was still carrying on into the weekend, so it’s hard to be certain which way the line is going to move from here. However, our consensus reports at press time show 57 percent support for Houston on the moneyline, up from 40 percent at the start of preseason and 52 percent earlier this week. If that line’s going to commit at all before kick-off (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN), I suspect it will be toward the favorites.
I certainly hope so. Remember how I’ve been picking the Texans ATS up to this point, albeit with a few reservations? Now I have a chance to hedge my bets and take the Chargers on the moneyline, and maybe get a little bit of value along the way. San Diego is available at +180 at Sport Interaction as we go to press; that’s the fair price equivalent of San Diego +4.5, which is what SIA has available for their NFL point spreads. But most online sportsbooks have Houston –3.5 on the board.
Release the Hounds
It’s tempting for me to just go ahead and take San Diego regardless of the tiny margins that are available in these imperfect markets. It’s Week 1, and just like the Week 1 betting trends suggested, the UNDER has been getting the job done, going into Sunday night’s action at 8-5. That’s a good sign for the underdogs, who generally win more often when the scores stay low.
Generally. The underdogs were just 6-6-1 ATS to start the season, and despite some surprisingly competitive performances by the likes of Oakland and Buffalo, only three underdogs cashed in on the moneyline: the Tennessee Titans (+250), the Miami Dolphins (+100) and, yes, the New York Jets (+100). Great googly-moogly.
I still like the Chargers in this situation. Their matchup has the earmarks of a low-scoring game, with the Texans defense (No. 3 on the efficiency charts in 2012) facing a Bolts offense that ranked No. 24 last year. Granted, Football Outsiders projects Houston’s defense to fall to No. 10 and San Diego’s offense to rise to No. 20, but Houston’s 2012 stats are a bit shaky without LB Brian Cushing involved for most of the season. Why am I arguing against myself, anyway? If the guys at FO are right, the Texans defense will be worse this year, not better.
On the injury front, The Texans appear to be without LB Darryl Sharpton, who suffered a concussion in Week 3 of the preseason and has yet to be medically cleared to practice. Add WR DeAndre Hopkins to the concussion pile, and don’t be surprised if safety Ed Reed (hip) doesn’t take the field much for his new team, if at all.
Things look a little healthier on San Diego’s side. Linebacker Manti Te’o (foot) won’t be making his NFL debut, which is not good news for a very thin unit behind newcomer Dwight Freeney. The offense should be full-speed ahead, though, with WR Eddie Royal (head, lung) and Malcom Floyd (knee) expected to suit up alongside Vincent Brown, who missed all of last year with a broken ankle. We’ll see what Brown can do for the Chargers in 2013.
NFL Pick: Take the Chargers +180 at SIA
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