NFL Week 2 Thursday Night Football: Houston Texans @ Cincinnati Bengals
Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Houston +5 -105 @ Cincinnati u38 -115
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
September 14, 2017, 5:25PM Pacific
Both the Texans and Bengals lost home openers last week by 20 or more. Undoubtedly, both teams will be looking to rebound in the debut contest for week 2. Our power rankings work suggests Cincy is about a point better than Texans in neutral territory. After accounting for home field advantage, we estimate the Bengals edge to be roughly a field goal. As such we are comfortable supporting the road dogs to cover.
Of note, per TheFootballLines, and consistent with our power rankings framework, Cincinnati was originally installed as 3 point favorites after the dust settled on week 1. However, the line has widened materially since. We jumped on at Houston +5, which as it turns out, was still too early. At present, Bovada is offering +6.5 to Texans backers -- a much more compelling proposition, given the historical significance of 3's and multiples thereof.
Research suggests the closing spread is an unbiased estimator of actual game outcomes, however, last week's experience was absolutely inconsistent with this generalization. Changes in the betting line proved a dismal 4-8-1 in predicting against-the-spread winners. As such, we regard the negative line value we have experienced as potentially supporting our play (or at the very least, we do not view the movement in the spread as damning for our pick) -- we do note though that there were three lines moves last week of 3.5 points or more, and that the closing line proved prescient in two of those three instances.
Sentiment too seems to corroborate our perspective. Per SportsInsights, 68% of public wagers went the Bengals way. In week 1, teams garnering more than 60% of public favor by betting volume were 3-7 ATS. While the 70% win rate related to fading the public is clearly unsustainable, the profitability of the strategy does not appear anomalous. BetLabs, for instance, found that since 2004, a contrarian betting approach has turned a profit, with eight years where gains accrued to the strategy, versus just 5 losing seasons (see the chart just below). This observation fits with empirical analysis that validates biases among the betting public in favor of home teams, favorites and popular or high profile teams (to wit, home favorites are 4-3-1 so far this year -- likely too close to even-Steven to be considered meaningful).
Finally, we note that, all-time, Houston has significantly bested Cincinnati versus the number in head-to-head-play. The Texans are 7-4 ATS in the 11 contests in which they have lined up against the Bengals.
ADDEDNDUM: Separately, our simulation model calls for the UNDER to collect this evening. Consistent with this prognostication, FootballOutsiders project the Bengals offense will finish the season ranked 25th (Cincinnati is so far on track to fulfill this prophecy, as the Bengals ranked dead last by DVOA in week 1), while the Texans are expected to post the second-worst offense in the League (Houston was 28th in week 1). As such, the expectation for a low scoring contest tonight is, by no means, a stretch, especially considering that these two teams mustered only 7 points (combined) last week. Also, the UNDER has cashed in after each of the last four head-to-head encounters between these teams, and is 7-4 all-time. We recommend complimenting the ATS play on Houston with a wager on the UNDER.