Expert's Final Analysis For Chiefs vs. Texans Wild Card Game

Ted Sevransky

Friday, January 8, 2016 10:03 PM GMT

The Kansas City Chiefs visit the Houston Texans in the opening game of Wild Card Weekend. The Chiefs are favored by 3.5 points on the NFL odds board.

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NFL Pick: Texans +3.5

Best Line Offered: at Bovada

 

There are two STRONG trends that point in opposite directions for this game.  To make matters worse for bettors trying to decide between the two, both trends pass the ‘does it make sense’ test with flying colors.

The single most profitable ‘blind betting’ NFL playoff trend that I’m aware of comes right here in the Wild Card Round.  By ‘blind betting’ I mean that there’s no handicap involved.  That trend involves the Sagarin Strength of Schedule numbers and it’s gone 37-14-1 ATS dating back to 2002.  It’s a simple trend to explain – just take the team that played the tougher regular season slate based on Sagarin’s numbers. 

This trend passes the ‘does it make sense’ test because it makes perfect sense – teams that have been feasting on weaklings all year aren’t as battle tested as teams that have been forced to step up in class repeatedly.  KC faced the #14th ranked schedule this year according to Sagarin’s numbers.  Houston faced the #26 ranked slate; weakest of any team here in the Wild Card round.  Those numbers clearly point towards the Chiefs as fully warranted road favorites.

But there’s a trend that’s just as strong – maybe stronger, because it hasn’t lost since 2004 – that points towards Houston.  Again, it passes the ‘does it make sense’ test with relative ease.  Teams entering the playoffs riding a winning streak of eight games or longer are now 0-13 ATS in their very first playoff game in their last 13 tries.

The trend makes perfect sense.  Teams that have won eight or more games in a row attract extra betting attention.  The markets love a ‘hot’ team and bettors who have been riding such teams tend to continue riding them, resulting in a higher point spread to support them.  In addition, the only way a team wins all of those games in a row in the modern era is when they’re facing a relatively weak slate of opponents, leaving them less battle tested than their opponent.

KC has the tougher season long strength of schedule numbers, as described above.  But during their ten game winning streak, the Chiefs have faced one bottom feeder after the next.  Their last seven games have come against the Chargers (twice), the Raiders (twice), Cleveland, Baltimore and Buffalo.  That’s not exactly a tough slate.

The Kansas City Chiefs only two wins since opening day against playoff foes came against Pittsburgh with third string QB Landry Jones behind center for the Steelers, and against Denver, in the game where Peyton Manning threw four early interceptions and then was benched for the next two months due to injury.  Every other win they’ve had during this entire span has come against a weaker team than the Houston Texans.

Houston suffered a major loss last week when left tackle Duane Brown went down with a season ending injury, leaving Brian Hoyer without his top blindside protector.  To make matters worse for the Texans, elite KC pass rusher Justin Houston has been back at practice this week following a five game absence.  If Houston plays effectively, it might be a long afternoon for Hoyer.

That being said, KC is only here because they’ve been +18 in turnovers while facing off against a bunch of weaklings for the last two months.  KC head coach Andy Reid has a long history of postseason underachievement, dating back to all of those NFC Championship Game losses in Philadelphia.  I do not trust the Chiefs to win on the road by margin.  Bettors who shop for a +3.5 NFL odds (there are a handful of them out there, and they’ve been popping up periodically) should be rewarded with a winning wager for your NFL picks on Saturday.