Houston Texans (3-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-1)
The Chiefs got off to an impressive 4-0 start, but they’ve run into some trouble. Last week, they surprisingly lost at home to a Colts team that was missing several key players on defense. Now they host a strong Texans team and they’ll have to do it at far less than 100%. Their biggest absence is defensive tackle Chris Jones, who is the best player on a defense that ranks 28th in first down rate allowed even with him on the field. Without him, they’ll have a lot of trouble stopping a Houston team that ranks 4th in first down rate.
On top of the absence of Jones, they’ll also be without a pair of starting offensive linemen (Eric Fisher and Andrew Wyile) and leading wide receiver Sammy Watkins. They could get wide receiver Tyreek Hill back for the first time since week 1, which would make up for Watkins’ absence, but that’s far from a guarantee and he may be limited in his first game back even if he plays. Meanwhile, quarterback Pat Mahomes could be at less than 100% with an ankle injury, which was a big problem against the Colts.
With everyone that the Chiefs are missing, the Texans, who are relatively healthy, rank several spots higher than the Chiefs in my roster rankings. They also have a higher first down rate differential (+5.14% vs. +4.27%) and are in a better spot, with the Chiefs having to play again in 4 days on Thursday Night Football, a 43.8% cover spot for favorites. I hate how much line value we’ve lost in the last week (the early line was Houston +8.5 last week, but it has since moved to +4.5), but I have this line calculated at even, so we’re still getting significant value with the underdog. I like the Texans +4.5 as my Pick of the Week and I think the money line is a smart bet as well.
Houston Texans 31 Kansas City Chiefs 30 Upset Pick +170
Pick against the spread: Houston +4.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week