Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans Pick 1/4/20
Buffalo Bills (10-6 SU, 9-5-2 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (10-6 SU, 7-8-1 ATS)
Date/Time: Saturday, January 4, 4:35 PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Tx
Point Spread: Buf +2.5 / Hou -2.5 (WagerWeb - 20 Point Teasers! 50% Real Cash Bonus!)
Over/Under Total: 42.5
The Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans kick off the NFL playoffs on Saturday. Sportsbooks have made the home Texans 2.5 point favorites and set the point total at 42.5. The play is to lay the points and ride with Deshaun Watson and the Texans. Here is the handicap.
Watson Will Be the Best Player on the Field
The Texans quietly won the AFC South for the second consecutive year in 2019, notching double-digit wins in both of the years. In the four years of Coach Bill O’Brien’s reign in Houston prior to Watson taking over as the full-time QB, Houston had managed only a total of 31 wins. Watson elevated the play of the entire team to the upper levels of the league in just his second season and now will play in the second playoff game of his young career. Watson is a top 5 NFL QB capable of making every pass, running when needed, but most importantly, making big plays when the game is on the line. He got a taste of the playoffs last year and didn’t perform his best, but we should expect his best this week. His stats aren’t gaudy, but are solid and consistent, leading the Texans to 25 points per game in 2019 despite working with one of the weakest offensive lines in the league and having receivers in and out of the lineup with various injuries. Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson provide a capable and diverse running back committee that demands defenses attention, making Houston a top 10 rushing offense. DeAndre Hopkins will be targeted early and often on Saturday, despite stud cornerback Tre’Davious White shadowing him. Hopkins has to have a big day for the Texans to advance.
The Bills defense is a solid unit, finishing 2nd in the league in points allowed and 4th in opponents yards per play. Their problem this week is they don’t match up great with the Texans. They ranked 19th in yards per rush against them and especially struggled when their opponents had a balanced attack. New England had over 400 yards against the Bills in week 16, as did the Cowboys a few weeks earlier. Buffalo’s pass rush is good and will be able to pressure Watson, but Watson will be able to extend plays and allow his receivers to make plays. I look for Buffalo to get some three and outs, but I also expect the Texan running game and Watson to sustain some drives and get into the red zone. Houston is 7th in the league in red-zone efficiency while the Bill defense ranks 14th in keeping offenses out of the end zone. I think Watson makes enough plays to that get the Texans 24 or more points in this one.
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Josh Allen Is Not Ready for Prime Time
Allen has taken some steps forward during the 2019 season, improving his accuracy and touchdown to interception ratio from his 2018 rookie campaign. Allen is also one of the best rushing signal-callers in the NFL, reaching the end zone 9 times in his 15 games this year. Devin Singletary has been a very pleasant surprise for Buffalo and has taken over as the lead back. He averaged over 5 yards per carry while also contributing in the passing game. The Bills receivers will be the key to their game this week. John Brown and Cole Beasley are Allen’s primary targets, catching half of his completions this year. Allen will have to take advantage when his receivers create space, but he has struggled to make the big passes. He had opportunities against the Patriots in Week 16 but airmailed his receivers. Brown and Beasly are not “contested-catch” guys, so Allen has to hit them in stride. Allen has not exceeded 260 passing yards in a game this year and has been well under 200 yards in 4 of his last five starts. I look for Allen to miss receivers again this week, potentially when the team needs them the most, even against a suspect Texan defense.
O’Brien’s stop unit has had their issues this year, ranking last in yards per play against, but 19th in points allowed. The good news for Houston is that all-world defensive end J.J. Watt should be activated off of IR this week and be on the field. Watt will be a huge upgrade to the Texan defense, even at less than 100%. The Texans only sacked opposing quarterbacks 31 times on the season, with 4 of those coming from Watt in his 8 games. Houston will have to pressure Allen and keep him from scrambling on Saturday. Prior to last week’s game against Tennessee that multiple Texans sat out, Houston had held 4 of their previous five opponents to 22 points or less, including much better attacks than they will face form Buffalo. I don’t think the Bills get to 20 points this week.
Houston Has the Better Resume
Buffalo is a well-coached team, had a nice season and is a team on the rise, but played a very easy schedule this year. Though we can’t blame them for who they played, we can downgrade them for how they played against strong competition. They played 5 games against teams that made it into the playoffs, winning only against the Titans with Marcus Mariota playing QB. They were competitive in both games against the Patriots and against the Ravens, but Allen couldn’t make the big play to swing the game. The Texans played 5 games against playoff teams (not including the week 17 game that Watson and others sat out), going 3-2 in those games. Watson led his team into both Kansas City and New England and came away with wins. Watson got his first taste of the playoffs last year, where he was a bit overmatched, with the Texans falling to Andrew Luck and the Colts, but he now has experienced the speed of the game in the playoffs. This is Allen’s first playoff game, which will amp up the pressure and tighten the nerves. Houston has proven they can win big games, Buffalo has only proven they can be competitive.
Lay the Points With the Texans.
The spread at less than a field goal implies these teams are even. If we look at the full 53 man roster, they might be even, but at the most important position, the Texans have a huge advantage. Quarterbacks determine who wins in January, so lay the 2½ points and trust Watson to carry the Texans to victory and cover the short spreade. Bet on NFL playoffs games and all your sports bets at -105 odds (both sides and totals!) at the web’s best betting site –> 5Dimes!
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