Friday, October 23, 2020

NFL Playoffs – AFC Wild Card preview and predictions

Week 17 is over and with that, the 2019 NFL regular season is done and 20 teams’ seasons are now over. With that, we now look ahead to the playoffs – starting with the Wild Card round.

AFC Outlook

The Baltimore Ravens have brought hope back to Charm City and they are the current favorites to win the Super Bowl. They have locked in that No. 1 seed in the AFC and tied down home-field advantage to M&T Bank Stadium. Their victory over the Steelers was just one more notch on their belts and unlike the Pats, they have shown that they can win the biggest of games AND not overlook lesser opponents.

The KC Chiefs got a big helping hand from the Miami Dolphins. And although Rivers and his men almost gave them a scare, they beat the Los Angeles Chargers 31-21. As a result, they hang on to that second available first-round bye.

The New England Patriots managed to do the unthinkable and lose to the Miami Dolphins which cost them their first-round bye. It’s important to note that the Patriots have never made it to the Super Bowl in the Brady and Belichick era without getting rest during the first round of the NFL playoffs. They are now the No. 3 team in the AFC and home-field advantage has been kissed goodbye as well.

The Houston Texans were already locked into the 4th seed as soon as the Chiefs won. Other than that, they didn’t have much to play for … and with AJ McCarron under center, they couldn’t find enough rhythm to get past Mike Vrabel’s Titan defense. The Tennessee Titans made their epic late-season run and finished with a win that meant everything to them, but not much to the Texans.

NFL QB AJ McCarron

AFC Wild Card

Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans

Houstan Texans have struggled at home as of late. Some might try to point out that the Bills just lost to the Jets, but let’s be honest, they took the night off to rest up for the Texans. And Buffalo is no stranger to playing on the road in Texas this season. They already went into AT&T Stadium and crushed the Cowboys a few weeks ago. Now, they will head to Houston to try and do something similar.

Josh Allen still has a long way to go as an NFL QB. But he has improved tremendously over the course of this regular season. And they have one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Bills are No. 9 in rushing yards allowed, so we can’t expect Carlos Hyde to find much room and on top of that, Deshaun Watson won’t be able to scramble as effectively and he has struggled mightily of late. In his last three games, he’s tossed five picks. Even while resting the bulk of their starters, the Bills still held the Jets to just 13 points.

Key Stats

Through Week 16, the Texans allowed 23 points per game at home. They dropped 35 points to the Titans, who absolutely crushed them. Derrick Henry made mince-meat of the Texans front and smashed his way in for multiple touchdowns. Now they are sitting at roughly 23.7 allowed per game. The Texans’ home offense has put up 25 per game at NRG Stadium, but now they fall to just over 24 per game.

The Bills defense allows just 16 points per game on average. On the road, the Bills were allowing just 15.86 per game when they went into Week 16 against the Pats. Offensively, they have actually played a bit better while out on the highway, scoring 22.14 on the road, after that game they sit at 21.5 per road affair.

The bottom line I thoroughly believe the Bills win this game and open as three-point favorites. If the Bills come at -3 or less, I believe there is a lot of value to be had. If they open or move to 3.5 or more, I will lay the juice on the money line instead.  If for some reason the Texans open as favorites, just take the Bills on the money line as underdogs all day.

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