We are about 72 hours away from the first Sunday of the NFL season, a season that is undoubtedly the most highly anticipated in the history of the Texans since their inaugural campaign in 2002.
This means we are also 24 hours away from my first "Weekend's Best Bets" posts, which is basically my weekly permission slip for you to steal money from your bookie. (70-53-1 last season, if you're keeping track at home. My records for the two previous seasons that I was with the Houston Press are blurry and unable to be deciphered, but, um, I'm sure that I kicked ass.)
Just like players need to stretch out on the field a couple hours before kickoff, so too do degenerate gamblers need to stretch their wagering hamstrings on a few delicious proposition bets a couple days before the season starts.
So please, Houston, join me in some wagering calisthenics!
By the way, all lines are provided by Bovada.lv, courtesy of my colleague Jimmy Shapiro:
MATT SCHAUB PROP BETS Matt Schaub -- Total Passing Yards in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 3,750
Matt Schaub -- Total Passing Touchdowns in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 24 and a half
Matt Schaub -- Total Interceptions thrown in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 13
SP: The total-yardage bet would have felt clownishly easy at this time last year, with Schaub coming off back-to-back seasons of well over 4,000 yards (combined 9,140 yards in 2009 and 2010), but with a) the Texans' newfound identity of a blue collar, defense/running game recipe and b) the decent chance that Schaub gets hurt (2009 and 2010 were his only healthy seasons), the UNDER on the total passing yardage is a slight lean.
Also, the UNDER on touchdown passes is a strong lean as the only season Schaub eclipsed 24 was in 2009 when the team had no running game until Arian Foster was promoted from the practice squad in December, and they therefore spent the whole season throwing the ball all over the yard. The interception total is a slight UNDER lean, too.
ARIAN FOSTER PROP BETS Arian Foster -- Total Rushing Yards in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 1,300 and a half
Arian Foster -- Total Receiving Yards in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 625
Arian Foster -- Total Rushing & Receiving Touchdowns in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 13 and a half
SP: It's worth prefacing with any of these player bets, that it's as much a bet on a guy's health as it is your optimism/pessimism in the type of season he will wind up having. Arian Foster rushed for 1,224 yards last season and that was after missing 3.5 games with an early season hamstring injury and some Week 17 rest.
In short, if healthy, I think Foster blows past the rushing yardage and touchdown totals, so we go strongly on the OVER for both of those. If Foster doesn't go over both totals, people will probably blame veganism, which I am personally trying to stamp out, so if nothing else, the OVER plays are a decent hedge against my vegan-extinction efforts. Based on history (over 600 yards receiving in 12.5 games last season), the receiving total should be an easy choice, too, but I'm leaning slightly on the UNDER for two reasons: one, more productivity out of the wide receiver position should curtail some of the need to screen and dump to Foster on third down and, two, Justin Forsett (unlike Derrick Ward) has some third down-back type skills that can take some of the wear and tear off of Foster's tires.
ANDRE JOHNSON PROP BETS Andre Johnson -- Total Receiving Yards in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 1,100 and a half
Andre Johnson -- Total Receiving Touchdowns in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 8 and a half
Andre Johnson -- Total Receptions in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 80 and a half
SP: Since he is the all-time career leader in receiving yards per game (79.1), these are one-thousand-percent wagers on Andre Johnson's health. If he's healthy, he will destroy these numbers. There's only one problem -- after every hit this preseason, Johnson peeled himself off the turf like a drunken frat boy waking up hungover in the middle of the living room floor at 6 a.m. We will go with a moderate lean on UNDER for all three of these.
TEXANS DEFENSIVE PROP BETS Connor Barwin -- Total Sacks in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 7 and a half
Brooks Reed -- Total Sacks in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 6 and a half
Johnathan Joseph -- Total Interceptions in the 2012 Regular Season Over/Under 3
SP: These bets almost feel like they're trying to sucker me into something. Am I missing something here? Connor Barwin had 11.5 sacks last season. Brooks Reed, depending on who you talk to, is going to make a huge leap in Year 2. (If the person you talk to is Peter King, then you know Reed will be the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 with 20 sacks. King almost has to bet this or he looks like a wuss, doesn't he?)
Anyway, I think if you bet both guys OVER on sacks, barring injury, you'll easily split these two, and have a distinct possibility of winning both fairly easily. Sprinkle in a nice lean on the OVER for Joseph's interception total and we are riding that Texans defense!
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Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.