NFL Wild Card Betting Preview and Picks: Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
The NFL Playoffs are here, starting off with eight teams in action on Wild Card Weekend. With two games on Saturday and two games on Sunday, there is plenty of pro football action to keep sports bettors occupied. Starting things off is the AFC contest between the Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills. Let’s look at the odds, preview the game, and get into some of our best bets for when Buffalo travels to Houston.
Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans (-2.5)
Saturday, January 4, 2020, at 4:35 p.m. ET
The NFL Playoffs kick off on Saturday, January 4, 2020, with the action focused on the AFC. The slate starts with the Buffalo Bills traveling to Houston to take on a Texans team that has plenty of experience in the Wild Card Round in recent years. It hasn’t been the best history, though, as the Texans lost 21-7 at home last season to the Indianapolis Colts, and were blanked at home by the Kansas City Chiefs 30-0 a couple seasons before that.
In between those two losses, the Texans did get a playoff win against the Oakland Raiders, but that was against Matt McGloin at quarterback, as Derek Carr had broken his leg just two weeks prior. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this specific matchup.
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JJ Watt Making His Return
When stud defensive end JJ Watt went down with a torn pectoral muscle earlier this season, it looked like a case of new season, same story for Watt. Ever since winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in three of his first five seasons, Watt has been riddled with various season-ending injuries. However, many were shocked to see Watt return to practice last week, and he has announced that he will be playing on Saturday.
Even if Watt is playing in a limited role, his return should provide a huge boost to the morale of this Texans team that is looking to avoid another disappointing postseason.
Bills Defense Still Elite
While Josh Allen and the Bills offense have had a fair share of ups and downs this season, the Bills defense has remained stout through it all. The defense still ranks third in yards allowed per game and second in points her game. They have simply smothered opposing offenses all season long, and that could happen again this week against the Texans.
Historically, Deshaun Watson actually plays quite well against elite defenses, including an impressive Sunday Night Football victory over the New England Patriots earlier this season, when the Texans hung 28 on the Patriots. Shutdown corner Tre’Davious White has a tall task on his hands this week, as he will likely be shadowing DeAndre Hopkins throughout the game, so that will be a fun matchup to keep an eye on.
Best Point Spread Pick: Bills (+2.5)
Three of the four hosts on the Gridiron Gamble podcast, presented by SharpSide.com, picked the Bills on the point spread, and I’m doing the same.
Simply put, this Bills team hasn’t been intimidated by any opponent or any stage this season. They pushed the Patriots to the limit in Foxboro and have impressive road wins (at least at the time) against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and Tennessee Titans. Buffalo is 6-2 on the road this season, and we expect them to add to that tally, against a Texans team that always finds a way to underperform in the playoffs.
We give the Bills an edge in the coaching department, too, which begs the question: If the Texans suffer another home loss in the Wild Card Round, is Bill O’Brien done for?
Best Over/Under Pick: Under 44
We touted the Bills defense earlier, so it should come as no surprise that we like the under in this spot. Allen has been much better at managing games this season, cutting down on the myriad of mistakes he made in his rookie season. It’s certainly possible that Allen could be affected by the bright lights of the playoffs, but even if he does, the Bills defense should do enough to contain this Texans offense that has slowly become more and more one dimensional as the season has progressed.
Best Player Prop: Cole Beasley Over 47.5 Receiving Yards
John Brown was the fantasy darling for the Bills offenses in the first half of the season, but Cole Beasley has emerged as Allen’s favorite receiver in recent weeks.
Beasley sat last week, but he absolutely shredded the Patriots defense for 7 catches and 108 yards the week before. The market has adjusted to this trend, as Beasley’s catch total is one more than ‘Smokey’ Brown, but this week we are going with the over on 47.5 receiving yards for Beasley.
Beasley has hit 74 yards or more four times in the second half of the season and we expect another solid performance this week. Take the over on receiving yards for Beasley. We also like the over on 4.5 catches as well.