Wild Card Weekend is upon us. The action kicks off on Saturday afternoon with what looks like an outstanding game on the AFC side of the bracket. The Buffalo Bills travel to Houston to take on the Texans, a meeting of a pair of 10-6 teams and the 4th and 5th seeds in the conference.
The Bills entered the offseason with a crystal clear agenda. The team managed to nail it on all fronts, and the end result is a Wild Card berth for a team that’s looking dangerous as the postseason begins. The Texans made their own fair share of moves with their eyes on making some serious noise come playoff time. The AFC South champs see a window, and they’re looking to pounce before it closes.
The matchup is solid as we have a Buffalo team which boasts one of the best defenses in the league facing off with a Houston club that can put points on the board in bunches. Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating contest, starting with the game lines.
Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans, 4:35 PM EST, Sat. Jan.4, ESPN
Betting odds provided by: Sportsbetting.ag
Bills vs. Texans Pick:
Entering Week 17, the Bills were locked into the 5th seed and had nothing to play for. Several starters took the week off as a result when they played host to the New York Jets. Despite that, the game would turn into a tight and low-scoring affair which wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter. When the final whistle blew, New York exited Buffalo with a 13-6 victory.
The Texans also entered the final week of the regular season with nothing to play for. They had already wrapped up the division as they welcomed the Tennessee Titans to town. The Titans were still battling for the final playoff spot in the AFC, and they certainly played like it. Tennessee snagged a convincing 35-14 win to advance to the postseason.
Buffalo kicked off the regular season with three straight wins. They fell in game four at home to the New England Patriots, but they played the defending Super Bowl champs tough. The club would go on to go 7-5 the rest of the way, suffering one double digits loss to the Philadelphia Eagles while picking up a number of convincing wins. The Bills enter the postseason as an intriguing dark horse.
Houston began the year on the road at the New Orleans Saints. They fell in a thrilling 30-28 shootout but bounced back to win the next two. The Texans went 8-5 for the remainder of the season and stayed consistent. All told, they won two straight five times and didn’t lose in back-to-back weeks. They had signature victories over the Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs but were walloped by the Baltimore Ravens.
The defense is the unquestioned strength of the Bills. That said, the offense has done enough more often than not to get the team to 10 wins. The Texans have had a number of big offensive performances this season, but they’ve been exposed at times on defense. J.J. Watt is slated to be back for the playoffs, so that could serve as a shot in the arm for the unit.
Josh Allen had some growing pains to start the year for the Bills, but he has come along nicely since then. All told, he has accounted for 29 total scores versus nine picks. Devin Singletary leads the way out of the backfield with a line of 151/775/2. John Brown is the biggest threat in the passing game at 72/1,060/6. Tremaine Edmunds tops the defense with 115 tackles, while Tre’Davious White has six picks.
Deshaun Watson has put together another excellent campaign behind center for the Texans. He has 33 total TDs versus 12 INTs thus far. Carlos Hyde is the team’s leading rusher at 245/1,070/6. DeAndre Hopkins tops the receivers with a line of 104/1,165/7. Zach Cunningham is tops on the defense with 142 tackles. Whitney Mercilus is the team leader in sacks with 7.5.
Houston has a slight advantage in all-time meetings with Buffalo by a margin of 5-4. The last meeting took place last season, a 20-13 home win for the Texans.
For the season to date, the Bills are 9-5-2 against the spread and 4-12 on totals. The Texans are 7-8-1 ATS and 7-9 on the Over/Under.
Since the 2017 season, Buffalo is 8-13 overall as a road underdog and 12-7-2 ATS. Houston is 12-8 straight-up as a home favorite over that span and 7-13 ATS.
In the playoffs on an all-time basis, the Bills are 14-16 overall and 3-4 in the Wild Card round. The team has not won a postseason game since 1995. They’re 0-4 in tries since then, falling each time in a Wild Card game. The last playoff appearance came in 2017 when they fell on the road to the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 10-3.
The Texans are 3-5 all-time in the postseason and 3-2 in Wild Card games. They were in the playoffs last season, falling to the Indianapolis Colts at home in the Wild Card round by a score of 21-7.
The Bills have been great on the road this season with a mark of 6-2 straight-up and 6-0-2 ATS. By contrast, the Texans are 5-3 on the homefield and 2-6 ATS.
While trends and records can be thrown out the window once the whistle blows, that’s a pretty solid argument in favor of Buffalo. Add in the fact that they have the better overall defense and can do enough on offense to get the job done, and the Bills are very dangerous in this spot.
Buffalo plus the points is the call, and an outright victory is on the table.