Houston Texans (0-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-0)
The 2020 NFL season is underway, with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs playing host to the Houston Texans, a team they defeated 51-31 in the AFC divisional round, en route to their Super Bowl victory. This season will be unlike any other, with pandemic restrictions significantly reducing stadium capacity, in many cases down to zero. In the MLB, we’ve seen next to no benefit to being the home team in front of an empty stadium, with the average MLB home team actually being outscored by 0.02 runs per game, when teams normally have an advantage of 0.15 runs per game at home.
There is established sleep science that sleeping in a familiar bed leads to enhanced performance, so I wouldn’t say there will be no homefield advantage this season, especially with there being some fans in attendance in many markets, and with home teams having access to fake crowd noise to try to make life more difficult for opposing offenses, but it is clear that the standard three point advantage for homefield can’t be used this season. Instead, I would recommend something in the 1-1.5 point range, depending on whether or not limited fans are allowed.
They will be in this one, with up to 16,000 fans joining the Chiefs in celebrating their Super Bowl victory. Super Bowl winners normally do pretty well in their first game back, especially at home, going 10-4-1 ATS since 2004, but this line seems pretty inflated, favoring the Chiefs by 9.5 points. If the Chiefs defense plays like it did down the stretch last season, this line is justifiable, but their defensive talent is suspect outside of their top guys, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they regressed back to their early 2019 season form. I wouldn’t recommend betting on the Texans, who are in worse shape than they were last season, but there’s more value taking the points for pick ‘em purposes. You can read more in depth on both teams and others in my season previews.
Kansas City Chiefs 31 Houston Texans 23
Pick against the spread: Houston +9.5