Houston Texans

Houston Texans: Week 4 Bets versus Minnesota Vikings

Looking at the over/under for the Houston Texans (0-3) as they face the (0-3) Minnesota Vikings for their first win of the 2020 NFL season.

Houston Texans -4 (-105) o/u 54.5 -200 ml

  • The Houston Texans are getting a slight edge for home-field advantage; both teams are winless so far this season. Houston has gone up against some of the toughest defenses in the league so far (Chiefs #2, Ravens #1, Steelers #6 as ranked by Pro Football Reference).
  • Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings against middle of the road defenses (Colts #3, Packers #21, Titans #14). Despite the #3 rank, I am classifying Indianapolis as a middle of the road defense since they let up 27 points (and lost) against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and their other opponent was the dumpster fire otherwise known as the NY Jets.
  • Houston has averaged 242 pass yards this season under Deshaun Watson vs. 194 yards the Vikings have mustered under Kirk Cousins (and 248.3 league average): Edge? Houston.
  • The real issue is that Houston has averaged a mere 66 rushing yards this season vs. 147 for Min (and 120.7 league average): Edge? Minnesota.
  • Both run defenses have been weak, with Vikings allowing 148 yards per game and the Texans allowing a league-leading 188 yards per game: Edge? draw.
  • However, Houston's passing defense has been solid, allowing only 199 yards per game vs. the Vikings' allowing an average of 292 yards: Edge? Houston.
  • Despite last week's loss, Houston is likely much better than their 0-3 record implies, but Minnesota could really just be that bad.

Houston at -4 seems like a solid bet this week


  • Houston Texans have averaged 19 points per game to Minnesota's 25 points, for a total of 44. So how is the line at 54.5?
  • Houston has allowed 31.7 points per game and Min 34, for a total of 65.7. The average sum of 44 and 65.7 is 54.8.
  • Of the two offenses, I have more faith in Houston, yet we still haven't seen them put up a complete game. If we average their actual scoring (19 points) with the scores of Min opponents (34), we end up with 26.5.
  • I'm not sure that Minnesota can do better than 25 points against Houston, so that would get us to 51.5 pts. Take the under.

How to convert American odds to probabilities? There are two formulas to use.

  • When odds are positive numbers:
    • Probability = 100 / (American Odds + 100)
    • Example: Odds of +200 implies Probability = 100 / (200 + 100) = 100/300 = 33.3%
  • When odds are negative numbers:
  • Probability = - American Odds / (- American Odds + 100); note the negative symbols here--i.e., the first step is to convert the negative odds to positive numbers
  • Example: Odds of -110 implies Probability = 110 / (110 + 100) = 110 / 210 = 52.4%
    • Thinking about these probabilities is helpful to decide whether you think betting lines offer real value or not.
    • As we discussed last week, Houston Texans at +3.5 (-110) didn't seem to offer enough value since the implied probability of the betting line (52.4%) seemed close to the likelihood of the bet hitting, but at +8.5 (-210), the implied probability of 67.7% seemed to be significantly lower than the likelihood of the bet hitting (i.e., offering a better payout than one would have expected). Clearly, there is some subjectivity in determining value, but over time, thinking in terms of probabilities should help you make decisions.