The Thursday night matchup this week was never considered good, but the NFL probably didn't anticipate it being this bad. The league will give the Texans its prime-time game this week, and it probably won't be pretty.
However, it's the NFL in 2022. If you say you know what will happen in any game, you haven't been paying enough attention.
Still, it's a 13.5-point spread for a reason. The Eagles are almost a full two-touchdown favorite over the Texans at BetMGM, and that does seem high.
If you assume 2.5 points for home-field advantage, that means the Eagles would be favored by about 18.5 in Philadelphia. Again, that's a lot.
The Eagles are 7-0 and have shown no real signs of weakness. But they're going to have flat games. It's a long season. A Thursday night road game against a 1-5-1 Texans team seems like a good candidate for a down performance. It's going to happen. And if the Texans look at any game as their Super Bowl this season, it's probably a prime-time home game against a 7-0 Eagles team.
One concern for the Texans is Brandin Cooks. Cooks wasn't traded and seemingly was quite unhappy about that. He is listed as questionable on the injury report. We don't know if he'll play, and Houston will definitely be without fellow receiver Nico Collins. If Cooks is out too, it gets a lot harder to cover the spread, even if it's 13.5 (or more, that line has been 14 at times this week).
Sometimes we look at a matchup like Eagles-Texans and think there's no way Houston can win. That's not how the NFL works. We have seen that plenty of times this season — if you were in a survival pool, you understand. Houston doesn't need to win for bettors to cash. Just compete.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
Oh yeah, the World Series
Look, we know which sport bettors prefer, and it's not baseball.
Still, Thursday night is MLB's time to shine. They have a key Game 5 of the World Series between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies going up against about as bad of a matchup as the NFL can give us. The Astros got a combined no hitter in a huge win to even the series on Wednesday night. The Astros are -160 favorites with Justin Verlander on the mound. Philadelphia needs a great throwback start from Noah Syndergaard, who hasn't started since Oct. 15 and hasn't pitched at all since Oct. 22.
A quiet NBA night
There are only two NBA games, though there are two good Western Conference teams in action. The Golden State Warriors (-8.5) are at the Orlando Magic. The Magic, led by rookie of the year favorite Paolo Banchero, is very young and they'll have trouble keeping up with the reigning champs. In the other game, the Denver Nuggets battle a feisty Oklahoma City Thunder team. The Nuggets are favored by 6.5. Back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic is the headliner, but OKC's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is off to a tremendous start this season and the Thunder are typically a good team against the spread.
College football too?
Yep, if all that above isn't enough for you, we have UTEP at Rice (-3.5) and Appalachian State (-3) at Coastal Carolina. The Appalachian State-Coastal Carolina game should be a really good one.
And a big NHL schedule
If you're still looking for action, the NHL has plenty. There are 13 games on the NHL schedule. Why the NHL would schedule most of its teams on a night that has an NFL game and the World Series is strange, but that league has never been great at maximizing exposure.
The best game is likely the Carolina Hurricanes at the Tampa Bay Lightning (-125). Both teams should be Stanley Cup contenders by spring. If that's not the best game, it's probably the Boston Bruins at the New York Rangers (-125). Both of those teams are off to strong starts.
What's the best bet?
So much to choose from. I'll roll with the Texans, but there are better games on the board. In the World Series, it's hard to back the Phillies with Syndergaard so it's probably a stay-away spot. I'll go with the Thunder as a 6.5-point underdog at home as the best bet.