NFL AFC Wild Card Playoff Betting Preview: Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans

2016 NFL Playoffs
AFC Wild Card Game
#5 Kansas City Chiefs at #4 Houston Texans
Saturday, January 9, 2016, 4:35 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN, ABC
NRG Stadium – Houston, Texas
Opening Line: Kansas City -3 (-115)
Current Line: Kansas City -3 (-130)
Opening Total: 40 1/2
Current Total: 40
Opening Money Line: Chiefs -180 / Texans +160
Current Money Line: Chiefs -180 / Texans +160

The Kansas City Chiefs are 3 point favorites on the road against the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card playoffs Saturday.
The Kansas City Chiefs are 3 point favorites on the road against the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card playoffs Saturday.

The Kansas City Chiefs opened this season with a 27-20 win at the Houston Texans. Few people outside of Houston or Kansas City thought they would make the playoffs but here we are. The 9-7 Texans host the red hot 11-5 Chiefs. Houston won the last three games of the regular season to win the AFC South Division title. After a 1-5 start, Kansas City has won 10 straight games to make the playoffs. The Chiefs finished a game behind the Denver Broncos in the AFC West.

The winner between the Chiefs and Texans will travel to either Denver or New England next week depending on who wins between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers Saturday night.

Kansas City leads the series 4-3 against Houston. The Chiefs have won two straight games against the Texans including the September meeting. Kansas City took a 27-6 lead with just under five minutes in the third. The Texans rallied to within 27-20 with 1:23 left in the fourth, but were unable to recover the onside kick. Houston had 396 total yards but also had 2 turnovers. Kansas City had 330 total yards and no turnovers. The two teams will play again next season in Houston.

Kansas City is coached by Andy Reid. The Chiefs have home losses to the Broncos 31-24 and Chicago Bears 18-17, plus road losses at the Green Bay Packers 38-28, Cincinnati Bengals 36-21 and Minnesota Vikings 16-10. After beating the Texans, KC lost five straight games before the current winning streak. The Chiefs have home wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-13, Buffalo Bills 30-22, San Diego Chargers 10-3, Cleveland Browns 17-13 and Oakland Raiders 23-17 last Sunday. Kansas City has road wins over the Broncos 29-13, Chargers 33-3, Raiders 34-20, and Baltimore Ravens 34-14, plus a win over the Detroit Lions 45-10 in London.

Kansas City was a 6.5 point favorite against Oakland the total was 43.5. KC could have won the AFC West with a win had the Chargers upset the Broncos. The Chiefs jumped out to a 14-0 lead the first quarter, but would lead 14-10 at halftime. Kansas City scored a touchdown and a safety in the third quarter to take a 23-10 lead. The Raiders scored a touchdown with 2:01 left in the fourth to make it 23-17. Oakland was unable to recover the onside kick, but did force a three and out. The Raiders took over from their own 10 with 1:34 left, but were unable to score. Oakland had only 205 total yards. Kansas City is 8-8 ATS and the total is 8-7-1 this season.

Houston is coached by Bill O’Brien. The Texans have home losses to the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20, Colts 27-20, and New England Patriots 27-6, along with road losses at the Carolina Panthers 24-17, Atlanta Falcons 48-21, Miami Dolphins 44-26 and Buffalo Bills 30-21. Houston has won 7 of their last 9 games after a 2-5 start. Houston has home wins over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-9, Tennessee Titans 20-6, New York Jets 24-17, New Orleans Saints 24-6 and Jacksonville Jaguars 30-6 last week,  along with road wins at the Jaguars 31-20, Cincinnati Bengals 10-6, Colts 16-10 and Titans 34-6.

Houston was a 5.5 point favorite against Jacksonville and the total was 45. The Texans needed a win to clinch the AFC South title. Houston took a 20-3 lead at halftime and would never look back as they cruised to a 24 point win. Houston had 402 total yards. Jacksonville had 215 total yards and 4 turnovers. Houston is 9-7 ATS and the total is 8-7-1 this season.

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Kansas City is outscoring teams 25-18 this season. The Chiefs are #9 in scoring and #3 in points allowed.  The Chiefs are averaging 331 total yards per game on offense including 203 passing and 128 rushing yards. Kansas City is #27 in total offense, #30 in passing and #6 in rushing.  On defense, KC is allowing 329 yards per game including 231 passing and 98 rushing yards per game. The Chiefs are in the top 10 in all three categories. Kansas City is 82/208 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 85/244. The Chiefs have forced 47 sacks and allowed 46 this season. The Chiefs are +14 in turnovers. Kansas City has scored six defensive touchdowns and allowed two this season.

Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith has completed 65.3% of his passes for 3,486 yards with 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and also has 84 carries for 498 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has taken all but two snaps this season despite being sacked 45 times. Chase Daniel is the back-up.

Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles tore his ACL and is out for the season. Charles had 71 carries for 364 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 21 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown before the injury. Charcandrick West has taken over as the feature back. He has 160 carries for 634 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 20 catches for 214 yards and a touchdown. Spencer Ware has 72 carries for 403 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 6 catches.  Knile Davis has 28 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown, along with 2 catches for 24 yards.

Receiver Jeremy Maclin has 87 catches for 1,088 yards and 8 touchdowns. He is probable with a hip injury. Tight end Travis Kelce has 72 catches for 875 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Albert Wilson has 35 catches for 451 yards and 2 touchdowns. Chris Conley has 17 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown. Receiver De’Anthony Thomas and tight end James O’Shaughnessy are both on injured reserve. Seven defensive players and four offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.

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Houston is outscoring teams 21-20 this season. The Texans are #22 in scoring and #8 in points allowed. Houston is averaging 348 total yards including 240 passing and 108 rushing yards. The Texans are allowing 310 yards per game on defense, including 210 passing and 100 rushing yards. Houston is #3 or  in total and passing defense and #10 against the rush. The Texans are 102/268 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 68/226. Houston has forced 45 sacks and allowed 36 this season. Houston is +5 in turnovers, and has both scored and allowed 3 defensive touchdowns.

The Texans made the playoffs despite using four quarterbacks this season. The Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens also used four quarterbacks, but they combined for only 9 wins this season.

Quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer split time earlier in the season. However, Mallett was released because of some off the field issues. He signed with the Ravens. Hoyer has thrown for 2,606 yards with 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, plus 44 rushing yards. He returned last week from a concussion.  Mallett has thrown for 770 yards with 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. T.J. Yates played in a few games for an injured Hoyer and has thrown for 370 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. He tore his ACL. Houston signed Brandon Weeden after he was released by the Cowboys. Weeden started against the Titans a couple of weeks ago when both Hoyer and Yates were out with injuries.  He has thrown for 305 yards with 3 touchdowns, along with 17 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Running back Alfred Blue has 183 carries for 698 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 15 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Chris Polk has 99 carries for 334 yards and a touchdown, along with 16 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Jonathan Grimes has 56 carries for 282 yards and a touchdown, along with 26 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown. Arian Foster is out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon. He had 63 carries for 163 yards with a touchdown, along with 22 catches for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Receiver DeAndre Hopkins has 111 catches for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. Nate Washington has 47 catches for 658 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is questionable with a hip injury. Cecil Shorts III has 42 catches for 484 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also has 47 rushing yards and threw a touchdown pass. He is questionable with a hamstring injury. Tight end Ryan Griffin has 20 catches for 251 yards and 2 touchdowns. C.J. Fiedorwicz, Jaelen Strong and Keith Mumphrey each have at least  14 catches as well.  Seven defensive players are listed on the injury report, as are four offensive linemen.

Kansas City is 5-0 ATS after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, 4-0 in road games, 8-2 after rushing for 150 yards or more, 7-3 overall, 2-5 after failing to cover, 2-7 in Saturday games, 1-4 in January, 1-5 against teams with winning home records, and 0-6 in playoff games. The road team is 6-1 ATS in this series recently. The Chiefs are 4-1 ATS in Houston recently.

Houston is 5-1 ATS after a win, after a cover, after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, and on grass, 5-1-2 in January, 4-1 at home, and after allowing less than 15 points, 7-2 overall, 15-5-1 after gaining more than 350 total yards, 6-2 against AFC teams, 10-4-1 after a straight up win of 14 points or more, 17-8-1 after allowing less than 250 total yards, 21-10 against teams with winning road records, and 1-6-1 after rushing for more than 150 yards. The over is 4-1 in Houston in this series recently.

Kansas City hasn’t won a playoff game since advancing to the AFC Championship game in 1993. Joe Montana was the quarterback for that team. It is amazing that Kansas City has won 10 straight games, but no one is really taking them seriously as a Super Bowl contender. Both of these teams have overcome numerous injuries to make the playoffs. However, either team will be close to a double digit underdog next week in either Denver or New England. I like the Chiefs to escape with a close win in a low scoring game.

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