When the series between the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans was launched, it was all about close calls and wins for the home team. The 49ers took the first games 20-17 in overtime at San Francisco in 2006. The Texans followed up with a 24-21 win at Houston in 2009, but that trend would come to a crashing halt. Close no longer counts in this series. The last two regular-season games and all five preseason games have ended with the winning team recording a double-digit triumph over the losing side.
The average margin of victory in Houston's three preseason wins is 11.6 points per game. The margin of victory in San Francisco's lone preseason victory over the Texans was 27 points. In the last two regular-season games, the 49ers have won both, by an average margin of 20.5 points per game. The home team holds a 3-2 edge in the preseason series between Houston and San Francisco. The home team also owns the advantage in regular-season play, with three wins in four games.
Future Stars - Both of these teams feature young quarterbacks who set the town abuzz in the first season with their respective teams last season - one at the start of the season and one at the end of the season. Houston's DeShaun Watson passed for 19 touchdowns in six games before a knee injury in practice shelved him for the season. Acquired in a trade with the New England Patriots, Jimmy Garappolo took over as San Francisco's starter in Week 13 and he won his five straight starts, to improve to 7-0 as an NFL starter.
All of this buzz has certainly impacted the odds on Garappolo and Watson in terms of the NFL's MVP award. In Bovada's NFL MVP future book, only three players are offered lowers odds to win the award than Garappolo, who is at +1500. And those three players are Aaron Rodgers (+550), Tom Brady (+800) and Carson Wentz (+850). Right behind Garappolo is Watson, who is in a group of players at +2000 that includes Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, two QBs who've been to the Super Bowl.
Is It Fool's Gold? - This utter belief in the impending brilliance ahead for both Watson and Garappolo certainly has influenced the odds on the 49ers and Texans as well. The 49ers scored on 62 percent of their drives with Garappolo under center and 29 percent of their drives with other QBs at the helm. Maybe that explains why Bovada lists the 49ers, 13-35 the past three seasons, as +140 to make the NFL playoffs in 2018. You'll get odds on -170 if you play the 49ers to miss the postseason for the fifth straight season.
The Texans were 3-4 and in the AFC South Division hunt when Watson suffered his torn ACL and was lost for the season, and the team went down the drain without their rookie QB, losing eight of their last nine games to finish 4-12. The Texans scored an average of 39 points in Watson's last five games. Without him, they topped 16 points once. Bovada lists the Texans as a solid -155 wager to make the 2018 playoffs. Play them to miss again and those odds are valued at +125.
The Texans are Bovada's second choice to win the AFC South title at +190, just behind the defending champion Jacksonville Jaguars (+190). But Houston and Jacksonville are co-third choices to win the AFC Championship at +800, and Houston is pegged as the co-seventh choice to win the Super Bowl at +1600. The 49ers are in the next group at +2200. San Francisco is +1100 to win the NFC Championship and +280 to capture the NFC West. The Niners are +140 to make the playoffs and -170 to miss out on the postseason.
Coming Back - Watson is also one of two Texans players given excellent odds on winning the NFL's comeback player of the year in Betway's future book on the award. Both Watson and defensive lineman J.J. Watt are pegged at +500 along with Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz. Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (+300) is the only player given better odds. Watts is looking to bounce back after being limited the last two seasons to a combined total of eight games due to back surgery and a fractured left leg.
High Or Low - Over at BetOnline, several player performance prop bets are on offer for the upcoming season. Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins is listed at 1300 yards as a total for his receiving output this season. Play the over or the under and the odds are -115. As far as touchdown receptions, the total is established at 9.5. The over is valued at odds of -105 and the under set at -125. During the 2017 season, Hopkins caught 13 TD passes and went for 1378 yards, so he looks to be a good over bet.
The total on yards gained on the ground by Texans running back Lamar Miller is set at 825. Play the over for -105, while the under will get you -125. Miller's rushing TDS are established at six and whether you go over our under, the odds are -115 on this wager. Miller rambled for 888 yards in 2017, but scored just three touchdowns.
Watson's total TD passes are set at 26.5. You will be given odds of -120 for the over and -110 for the under. His interceptions are put at 17.5. Over is worth -120 and the under gets you -110. The speculation is that Watson will be good for 3800 yards in passing this season. Again, the odds are set at -120 for the over and -110 for the under. In his limited action last season, Watson threw for 19 TDs, was intercepted eight times and accounted for 1699 yards through the air.
Garappolo is down to be good for 23.5 TD passes this season. The odds on the over are -105 and the under will get you -125. His interceptions are pegged at 13.5 and whichever way you wager on the total, the odds are set at -115. Finally, Garappolo's passing yardage total is fixed at 4400. You'll get -130 for playing the over and +100 should you go for the under. Garappolo's totals last season were seven TD passes, five interceptions and 1560 yards.
Jerick McKinnon, the 49ers running back, is pegged with a total of 8.5 for rushing TDs in 2018. Go for the over at odds of -125, or play the under at -105. BetOnline pegs McKinnon to gain 860 yards rushing this season and whether you play the over or the under, you will get odds of -115. With the Minnesota Vikings last season, McKinnon rambled for 570 yards and scored three TDs.