The NFL playoffs begin this weekend, and the first game on the docket is the Buffalo Bills at the Houston Texans, so here’s an NFL preview of the game. Both teams enter the postseason with 10-6 records making it hard to make an NFL pick. Each team boasts young quarterbacks that are looking to take the next step in their solidification of being their franchise’s building block to a successful future, and it’s anyone’s NFL prediction which one will be most successful this week.
At this point, it has become clear that Deshaun Watson is the quarterback the Texans have been searching for since their inception in 2002. The Texans are just 3-5 historically in the playoffs, and while Matt Schaub had some good years leading this Houston franchise, it is safe to assume that Waton’s trajectory offers a higher floor as well as a higher ceiling.
While his numbers seemingly regressed this season, he is taking fewer sacks and looks more poised in the pocket as he gains experience.
The Bills are led by “gunslinger” Josh Allen, who showed marked improvement in year two by doubling his touchdown passes from 10 to 20 and cutting his interceptions from 12 to 9 while appearing in four more games than last season.
His completion percentage of 58.8 percent leaves something to be desired, but what he may have lacked through the air he made up for with 510 yards on the ground and nine rushing touchdowns. The Bills were also second to last in the league in drops with 26 on the season, with only the Miami Dolphins worse.
The Houston Texans are favored by 2.5 points at home, with the over/under set at 42.5.
Can The Road Warriors Stampede Through Texas?
Historically, teams play better at home. That hasn’t really been the case with the Bills in the 2019 season, as they were 6-2 on the road this season compared to 4-4 at home.
Allen had a better rating, completion percentage, yards per attempt and touchdown/interception numbers on the road this season as well, and by a wide margin. Buffalo was also an incredible 6-1-1 against the spread away from the friendly confines this season.
The Bills do that by playing tremendous defense and keeping the game low-scoring. The Bills went under in six of eight road games this season.
Will The Texans Defend The Home Field?
Simply put, the Texans haven’t defended much this season. Houston ranks in the bottom half of the league in its home defense against both the run and the pass and second to last in yards per play given up.
The Texans are also just 2-6 against the spread and split the season 4-4 at home on the over/under. While they have the pieces on offense, the biggest question marks for the Texans are if they can stop anyone.
Keeping It Close
A road team in the playoffs is always a risky proposition, and if the line were Houston -3.5, it would be an obvious take as this has all the makings of a last-second field goal game.
With Will Fuller being out and Kenny Stills being dinged up, it’s obvious that Buffalo can simply key on DeAndre Hopkins, though others have tried before.
Buffalo should be able to slow this offense down just enough to let Allen make a few plays that keep the game close. The obvious play in the under, but take the Bills to cover in what should be a razor-thin final.
Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans NFL Pick and Prediction
Saturday, January 4th, 2020
4:35 pm ET @ NRG Stadium
Betting Spread: Texans -2.5 | Total 42.5
Pick & Prediction: Buffalo Bills +2.5