After shelving most of their starters through the first two weeks of the NFL preseason, the 49ers are expected to rely heavily on their first unit in Thursday’s exhibition finale. And that’s bad news for the host Texans.
Houston played its starters for the first half of last week’s win over the Rams, and we should see a similar effort in this one. Can this team compete with a loaded San Francisco roster at mostly full strength?
Here’s how we’re betting Thursday’s contest, which kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime Video.
Texans vs. 49ers Odds (via BetMGM)
- 49ers -2.5 (-110), moneyline -155
- Texans +2.5 (-110), moneyline +130
- O/U 40.5 (-110)
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Texans vs. 49ers Prediction: The Analysis
If this were a traditional matchup in the regular season, the 49ers would likely be laying a touchdown or more. Instead, they’re slight preseason favorites – even as both sides plan to send out the starters for upwards of an entire half.
That clearly favors San Francisco, which has a Super Bowl-ready roster around young QB Trey Lance. The former No. 3 pick has been effective in limited action this preseason, going 4-of-5 with a 76-yard bomb in Week 1 before sitting out in Week 2. He’ll be tasked with a much heavier workload on Thursday in the final dress rehearsal before he assumes the starting job.
The star of this preseason has been this 49ers defense, which has been stellar even with key starters on the bench. San Francisco picked off Jordan Love three times in a Week 1 win over the Packers before forcing Vikings backup Kellen Mond into two interceptions a week ago in another easy win.
This unit should have a field day against turnover-prone starter Davis Mills and the rest of Houston’s rag-tag roster, which is among the least talented in the NFL. The Texans are undefeated in exhibition play this year, but that’s a borderline miracle after fumbling it four times (two lost) in last week’s win over the Rams.
That’s even less impressive considering Los Angeles coach Sean McVay’s general disdain for preseason games. Even against mostly backups, this Houston first unit managed just seven points in the first half, and 50 of Mills’ 96 passing yards came on two plays late in the first half.
Betting on the NFL?
If the Texans were facing off against another backup unit, their underdog price might look a little more attractive, but the 49ers have been dominant even with their second-stringers in action. With Lance and friends suiting up for a full quarter or more? This is an easy play on the visiting favorites.
Texans vs. 49ers Pick
49ers -2.5 (-110 BetMGM)