The regular season was full of exciting twist and turns, but the best football of the season has finally arrived. The NFL Playoffs begin with a tantalizing matchup between the Bills and the Texans.
Interestingly, both teams will enter Saturday’s matchup with identical records of 10-6. The Texans earned home field advantage by virtue of winning the AFC South. The Bills, of course, finished two games behind the Patriots for the AFC East crown.
The potential home field advantage in Houston is a big reason why Bill O’Brien’s team enters the game as 2.5-point favorites. Rest assured, no one in Buffalo is willing to believe the Texans are actually the better team. Sean McDermott will bring his physical, tough-minded team into this game with a ton of confidence.
Most of you should be familiar with our exclusive Statschecker Site by now, but those of you who failed to utilize it during the regular season need to correct their error immediately. In this piece I’ll give you five interesting facts that you can find on the site, but you need to visit it yourself to get all of the intelligence you need before you lock in your final wagers on Saturday’s contest.
Josh Allen is better than you think
Allen is never going to blow you away with his passing accuracy, but that doesn’t mean he’s a below-average starting quarterback. In fact, he’s played well above the league mean this season.
Specifically, the Texans will need to watch out for Allen’s ability to make plays with his legs. There’s a reason he’s found the end zone in four of his team’s last five road games. The combination of his speed and physicality makes him a nightmare for opposing defensive backs to bring down.
DeAndre Hopkins likes playing the Bills
It shouldn’t be news to anyone that Hopkins is one of the most gifted wide receivers in the NFL. That’s certainly not a shock to the Bills. Hopkins has found the end zone in three straight games against the Buffalo secondary.
Of course, there’s a big difference between knowing how you should play Hopkins and actually executing it. The Bills will need to get pressure on Deshaun Watson if they want to keep his receivers quiet. Giving Watson time to scan the field makes Hopkins impossible to stop.
Buffalo wants a low scoring game
If this game turns into a shootout then Buffalo doesn’t have a prayer of pulling off the upset. However, if the Bills’ defense can put the shackles on Watson and company, then they suddenly become the favorites.
It’s important to understand that 12 of the Bills’ last 15 road games have failed to hit the over. There’s no guarantee that Buffalo can stop Watson, but they do have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Don’t get carried away with banging the over.
The Bills are made to win on the road
McDermott has built this team to enjoy playoff success no matter where the games are played. First and foremost, Buffalo prides itself on its physical defense. They aren’t going to allow Houston to run the football with any sort of consistency. That will give them a credible chance to pressure Watson on most passing downs.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bills stick to what they’re good at without taking unnecessary chances. Allen will look to hit an occasional deep shot, but this isn’t a complex offense that requires perfect conditions or communications to function at a high level. The Bills won six of their eight road games this season. They’ll expect to continue that trend on Saturday.
24.1 is a big number
The Texans have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. They’ve averaged 24.1 points per game this season and that should be a key total for them to hit against the Bills. If they can post that number of more, it will greatly enhance their chances of advancing in the postseason.
Conversely, if the Bills can keep them under 20, it greatly increases their opportunity to score a big road win. The matchup between the Texans’ offense and the Bills’ defense is likely where this game will be won or lost.
Ignore the spread
2.5 points isn’t an insignificant number, but it’s not something that should really preoccupy you in this match-up. Pick the team you like the best and ride them with the money line.
The Bills aren’t certain winners, but they’re the best value to play. Take them to win the game outright and trust McDermott’s defense to frustrate Watson. Then, watch Allen make just enough plays down the stretch to pull out a gutsy win for his squad.