NFL Picks: Side With Texans +3.5 In Wild Card Round vs. Chiefs

Kevin Stott

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 12:54 AM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016 12:54 AM UTC

Brian Hoyer and the Houston Texans welcome Jeremy Maclin and the torrid Kansas City Chiefs to NRG Stadium in Houston on Saturday afternoon as the NFL Postseason kicks off with this AFC Wild Card game.


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NFL Pick: Texans +3.5

Best Line Offered: at Bovada


When these two met in Week 1 here in Houston, the Chiefs held off the hosts for a 27-20 victory but can Alex Smith and the visitors repeat that feat when it really matters? Let’s perform an in-depth analysis here and find an NFL pick or possibly four from the markets now available for this good-looking AFC Wild Card game from the renowned US city that gave us Beyonce. Are you ready for this jelly, Bubba? I don't think you're ready.


Odds Overview
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans [Saturday 21:35] (ABC, ESPN, WatchESPN, 4:35 p.m. EST/1:35 p.m. PST): The NFL Postseason kicks off with this AFC Wild Card game between two teams really unlucky to run into each other so early in the Playoffs when host and the No. 4-seeded Houston Texans (9-7 SU, 9-7 ATS) welcome QB Alex Smith and the upstart and the No. 5-seeded Kansas City Chiefs (11-5 SU, 8-8 ATS) to NRG Stadium (Grass) in Houston on Saturday afternoon (Rain Showers Morning, Sunshine Afternoon, 68°, Winds NNW 12 mph, 50% chance of Rain) for the right to play either the No. 1-seeded Broncos in Denver or the No. 2-seeded Patriots and Tom Brady in New England next in the Divisional Round. Yipikaye, Suzie. Current odds see the visiting Chiefs now in a 3- to 3½-point range over the host Texans with the Total (Points) posted in a tight and low 40- to 40½-point range with the large majority of sportsbooks here in Las Vegas, Online and Offshore hanging a 40 on their betting boards Monday.

The Chiefs are -180 Favorites in the Money Line (Winner) marketplace with the underdog Texans lined at +160 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) on the takeback while the Houston Texans Total Team Points has been set at 18½ (Ladbrokes) and the Kansas City Chiefs Total Team Points is at 18½ (Ladbrokes) for this big game. The 1st Half line sees the Chiefs as 3-point (+105) favorites on the NFL odds board (William Hill), more than the game line at a few places.


Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs (18/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill) and 3rd-year Head Coach Andy Reid (27-22 ATS) head into this game on the heels of a 10-game Win Streak and QB Alex Smith (33-28-2 ATS on Road, 5-3 ATS this season W4 consecutive ATS on Road) has finally gone from a signal caller accused of just managing a football game to one who is getting a little due respect after so many seasons in the NFL. And the 31-year-old Utah product Smith has done a great job creating points this season and leading Kansas City from the depths—this team had a seemingly insurmountable 1-5 start—as the Chiefs Offense ranks a woeful #27 in the league (5,299 yards, 333.2 ypg) but has somehow managed to score a healthy average of 25.3 ppg despite star RB Jamaal Charles (Knee, Injured Reserve List) missing the majority of the season with an Injury.

How? Smith, and Kansas City is #2 in the NFL in TO Differential (+14) because of DBs like Marcus Peters (8 Interceptions) and cancer-free veteran Eric Berry and other Offensive players like WR Jeremy Maclin (87 receptions, 1,088 yards, 8 TDs, 12.5 ypc), TE Travis Kelce (72 receptions, 875 yards, 5 TDs), RB Knile Davis, RB De’Anthony Thomas (Injured Reserve List), WR Chris Conley, WR Albert Wilson (35 receptions, 451 yards, 2 TDs) and RB Charcandrick West (160 rushes, 634 yards, 4 TDs). So it’s safe to say letting Dwayne Bowe go and getting Maclin was a good move. 

On the Injury front for Kansas City, LB Justin Houston (Knee), DB Husain Abdullah (Concussion), T Jah Reid (Knee), LB DJ Alexander (Concussion), LB Dee Ford (Concussion) and OL Mitch Morse (Concussion) and are all listed as Questionable for Saturday while speedy waterbug WR and Oregon product D’Anthony Thomas (Concussion), TE James O’Shaughnessy (Foot), OL Ben Grubbs (Neck), aforementioned star RB Jamaal Charles (Knee), Phillip Gaines (Knee), OL Paul Fanaika (Undisclosed), QB Tyler Bray (Knee) and LB Justin March (Knee) are all on the Injured Reserve List for the Chiefs. Despite the nice roll, the Chiefs (8/1 to win AFC, William Hill) could use a couple of these guys against the underrated Texans in Houston this weekend.


Houston Texans
The Houston Texans (66/1 to win Super Bowl, bet365) and 2nd-year Head Coach Bill O’Brien (18-13-1 ATS) didn’t need Ryan Fitzpatrick (Jets) and Ryan Mallett (Ravens) couldn’t cut it in H-Town so enter former Browns slinger, 30-year-old Brian Axel Hoyer (2,606 yards, 19 TDs) and this Texans team are still better than the General Public and Oddsmakers think. Many thought the Injury to star workhorse RB Arian Foster would ruin the season—like many did with WR Kelvin Benjamin and his Injury with the Carolina Panthers—and too many people think this team is all JJ Watt. It’s not. WR DeAndre Hopkins (111 receptions, 1,521 yards, 11 TDs, 13.7 ypc) is overshadowed by probably the greatest cast of WRs in NFL history (Fitzgerald, Smith, Bryant, Beckham, Jones, Brown, Johnson) and WR Nate Washington, WR Cecil Shorts III, WR Jaelen Strong give Michigan State product Hoyer plenty of nice targets and RB Alfred Blue (698 yards, 2 TDs) has been wonderful and could be the difference here. And as good as the Chiefs Defense is (#7, 17.9 ppg), the Texans Defense (Tied #10 TO Differential, +5) is even better (#3, 19.6 ppg) and don’t let that ppg average throw you off as that number is skewed by a 41-point 1st Half the Dolphins shoved up the Texans oil well in Miami, accidentally waking Watt and these sleeping AFC South giants.

Besides devout Chelsea fan (EPL) Watt, LB Brian Cushing (110 tackles), LB Jadeveon Clowney and DB Andre Hal (4 Interceptions) are among others who have led this surge. Injury-wise for Houston, Cecil Shorts (Hamstring), S Rahim Moore (Illness), LB Jadeveon Clowney (Foot), DE Jeoffrey Pagan (Illness) and WR Nate Washington (Hip) are all listed as Questionable here but expect most to give it their best to play, especially WRs Washington and Shorts. Aforementioned RB Arian Foster (Achilles), QB TJ Yates (Knee), C Greg Mancz (Knee), S Lonnie Ballentine (Knee), T Jeff Adams (Knee), LB Carlos Thompson (Wrist), QB Tom Savage (Shoulder) and LB Reshard Cliett (Knee) are all on the Injured-Reserve List, so, small advantage Texans (33/1 to win AFC, William Hill).


Recent Series Trends and Best Betting Approaches
When these two played earlier this year in Week 1, the Chiefs defeated the Texans here at NRG Stadium in Houston, 27-20, covering as a 1-point favorite with the game going Over the closing Total of 41. Since trailing 41-0 at Halftime in Miami earlier this season, Houston has been a different team, as have the Chiefs after a 1-5 start, so these are two teams who both pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and became determined to just win football games. Upon closer examination, it does seem that the Chiefs 10-game Win Streak has come at the hands of some less than talented foes in the Steelers, Lions, Broncos, Chargers, Bills, Raiders Chargers (again), Ravens, Browns and Raiders (again), so, just two toughies in Pittsburgh and Denver, but still impressive Wins for the Chiefs and the Broncos triumph in Denver was huge although they too had problems at QB...a common theme for the NFL this millennium. Kansas City is 4-1 ATS the L5 in this series, but when they met in Week 1, Houston was still unsure about its starting QB spot and wondering how to try to fill the Foster void at RB.

One key here will be how good the Texans Defense (310.2 ypg allowed) really is and even though they’ve improved and will be confident after winning here earlier this season, Kansas City (332.2 ypg gained) always seems to have trouble scoring and the 1st Quarter Under (7½ -145, Betway) seems like a good idea in a game between two great D’s which could see a sluggish start and may see some inclement Weather (It was KC 14-6 after 1Q in the first meeting, KC 27-9 at Halftime). Expect host Houston to be careful not to let the Turnover Bug bite—it had a (lost) Fumble and an Interception (Hoyer) in the first meeting—and kill them here and the Home Houston crowd should help more than most anticipate. It seems 6-1, 218-pound WR Hopkins will have a breakout game here, and backing him in the Anytime TD Scorer marketplace (+100, Paddy Power) seems wise as Hoyer will target the 23-year-old Clemson product probably around 15 times in this massive game between two AFC teams who are an awful lot alike. And Hopkins should shine in the bright spotlight and help the Texans pull off the (perceived) upset and go give either the Broncos or Super Bowl champion Patriots hell in the Divisional Round.

This Texans team could accidentally shock the world although the path will be steep, starting with beating a team which has won 10 in a row in the Chiefs. And getting Houston and 3½ points in a game it can definitely win at Home seems the really smart route here in what should be a close and entertaining game between two underrated teams very worthy of Postseason football.

Predicted Final Score: Houston Texans 27 Kansas City Chiefs 20

AFC Wild Card Picks: Texans +3.5 (Pinnacle), Texans Money Line +160 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), 1st Quarter Under 7.5 -145 (Betway), Texans +3 -125 1st Half (William Hill)

AFC Wild Card Prop Pick: DeAndre Hopkins, Anytime TD Scorer +100 (PaddyPower)

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