Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 1:00 PM
Six games into the 2018 pro football season, only one team is undefeated against the point spread. That’s the surprising Kansas City Chiefs, who have taken the NFL by storm with a slew of great performances against a tough schedule. Their most recent cover was this past Sunday night as an underdog of 3.5 points in a 43-40 loss at New England. That brought KC to 6-0 ATS.
There are no teams at 0-6 ATS out of the gate this season. And, only one team has failed to cover five times. That’s the Houston Texans, who are 1-5 ATS. Their only cover was a few weeks ago at Indianapolis when they beat the Colts 37-34 in overtime as a 1-point underdog. That means it was a one-point cover at the end of 60 minutes. That’s it! The only time Houston “beat” expectations, it was by one point in regulation. Otherwise, we have a team that’s been consistently overrated.
What’s causing the differences here? JIM HURLEY thought it would make an interesting case study for the HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK.
EXPECTATIONS AT QUARTERBACK
Many believed that a “healthy” Houston Texans would be a playoff caliber team. Their defense has been elite when J.J. Watt was on the field. DeShaun Watson was putting up big numbers last season before his injury. With all the pieces back on the field, what could go wrong?
Turns out, a lot of things. But Watson’s struggles have been the main culprit. Defenses had the whole offseason to learn his tendencies on film. He’s clearly lost a step in speed. And, management has encouraged him to run less often to avoid another injury. That’s turned him into a pocket passer, which he just isn’t qualified to be in his second season.
For Kansas City, there was skepticism about new starter Patrick Mahomes. Sure, he had potential. But, potential doesn’t pay the bills! It was assumed KC would take a step back from past performances under Alex Smith this season during the transition to Mahomes. Some believed Mahomes would be a bust.
Kansas City head coach Andy Reid has clear strengths and weaknesses. His strengths are mostly connected to shining during the regular season. His weaknesses involve underachieving in the playoffs. So far, it’s been all regular season. The mix of Mahomes and Reid has been a sterling combination.
Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t appear to be qualified to coach in the NFL. That becomes more obvious each and every week. He makes poor choices in play calling. He really mucks things up in the red zone. Houston should have scored a lot more points than they have this season given all of its yardage. It wouldn’t be a shock if he was fired before the end of the 2018 campaign. Beating Dallas two Sunday nights ago probably prevented a Monday morning firing!
The market deserves much of the blame for those extreme point spread results. Oddsmakers and many professional wagerers refused to believe Mahomes could continue playing at an MVP level. “He can’t keep that up” was a common refrain. They also figured Houston would get things figured out eventually.
It’s clear that the market HAS largely caught up to Mahomes. They only covered by a half-a-point in Foxboro. And, they’ve been priced like a Super Bowl team in recent weeks. Houston played to the number two weeks ago vs. Dallas, but missed badly vs. lowly Buffalo this past Sunday. Probably true that Houston will get too much respect as medium or larger favorites, but is properly priced in toss-ups. Houston’s quality defense makes it hard for opponents to get scoreboard distance.
Note how two of the three key influences were about “observers” rather than football. It’s possible to make money as a football bettor just by recognizing mistakes that other bettors are making! Expectations were wrong…reactions were slow. The market is built on expectations and reactions just as much as the skill sets of the superstar athletes. See if you can do a better job in your own handicapping of recognizing errors that are being made in the marketplace.
JIM HURLEY built NETWORK’s exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach to make sure the market was covered from ALL angles. Sure, he knows the talent thanks to his SCOUTS and SOURCES across the nation. And, his STAT HANDICAPPERS and COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS do a great job of turning the value of talent into a hard number. But, he also studies the market with assistance from his friends on both sides of the counter to stay at least 1-2 steps ahead of slow money.
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Today you read about point spread extremes in the 2018 season. The handicapping industry is also about extremes. Most pretenders lose, and never get things figured out. JIM HURLEY is a PROVEN WINNER who’s been at the top of the heap since day one. He built the industry, and still leads the way more than 30 years later.
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