Welcome to the 2020 NFL playoffs. AFC Wild Card playoff action begins with Buffalo visiting Houston on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, at NRG Stadium in Texas. These teams are meeting for the first time this season and kickoff is scheduled for 4:35 p.m. ET. The Bills and Texans rested key starters in Week 17 and ended their regular season with a loss. Will the Bills defense stymie the Texans offense in this contest?
Spread: Texans -2.5 (-120) | Bills +2.5 (+100)
Moneyline: Texans (-145) | Titans (+125)
Game Total: OVER 43.5 (-110) | UNDER 43.5 (-110)
Buffalo Bills’ Recent Form
Josh Allen, Devin Singletary and John Brown were among the starters held out of the Bills’ 13-6 loss to the Jets during the season finale. Prior to that, with all hands on deck, Buffalo lost 24-17 on the road in New England. Allowing the second-fewest points per game, plus the third-fewest total yards, a stout defense leads the way for Buffalo. The Bills have scored 17 points or less over the last four contests.
· Betting Record: SU 10-6 | ATS 9-6-1 | O/U 4-12
· Offense: 23, scoring 19.6 points per game
· Defense: Second, allowing 16.2 points per game
· Turnover Rank: 10th with a +4 differential
Houston Texans’ Recent Form
Houston sat starters as well, including Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, during a 35-14 loss to the Titans at home. Houston defeated the Buccaneers 24-21 in Tampa while fielding a full squad during Week 16 action. The Texans rank fifth from the bottom giving up 388.3 yards per game on defense this season. Excluding the Week 17 match, Houston averaged 23.8 PPG over its last five games.
· Betting Record: SU 10-6 | ATS 7-8-1 | O/U 7-9
· Offense: 14, scoring 23.6 points per game
· Defense: 19, allowing 24.1 points per game
· Turnover Rank: 17th with a +/- 0 differential
Fantasy Football Wild Card Weekend Studs and Duds
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Buffalo vs. Houston Recent History is Limited
Houston and Buffalo have never met in the playoffs, and this is just the 10th meeting all-time. The Texans posted a 20-13 win at home during Week 6 action last season. Josh Allen was knocked out of that contest and backup Nathan Peterman tossed two INTs. One was returned for a TD with under two minutes to play. The Texans defense needed to be good, as the offense managed 216 total yards and one touchdown.
Injury Update: Offensive Stars Protected in Week 17
Neither side suffered any major injuries to playmakers on offense last week. Bills cornerback Levi Wallace and tackle Ty Nsekhe were injured in the loss to the Jets and are questionable. Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph suffered a hamstring injury versus the Titans but is expected to play. The same goes for receivers Kenny Stills (knee) and Will Fuller (groin), who are both dealing with lingering injuries.
Houston received a boost to its defense as three-time Defensive Player of the Year J. J. Watt has been activated from injured reserve. Originally thought to be season-ending, Watt suffered a pectoral injury and hasn’t played since Week 8. Without their pass-rushing specialist, the Texans haven’t put much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as they rank near the bottom of the league with just 31 sacks this season.
Houston and Buffalo: Same Team Opponent Results
Buffalo and Houston faced three of the same opponents during the regular season. Houston lost 41-7 to Baltimore, while the Bills kept the score closer during a 24-17 loss. The Bills lost twice (16-10 and 24-17) to the Patriots, who the Texans defeated 28-22. In the other matchup, Buffalo defeated the Broncos 20-3 and then Denver defeated Houston 38-24 two weeks later. Give a slight edge to the Bills in this dynamic.
Texans vs. Bills Final Thoughts and Pick
We mentioned this is a rare meeting as Houston is 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS over the last five games, dating back to 2009. The Bills’ two covers were as 10-point underdogs in the contest last year and as three-point favorites during a 30-21 win in Buffalo back in 2015. Houston won the AFC South division for the fourth time in five years while Buffalo is back in the playoffs for the second time over the last three seasons.
During recent postseason action, Houston lost 21-7 to Indianapolis in the Wild Card round last year. Buffalo made its first playoff appearance in 18 years and lost 10-3 to Jacksonville two years ago. The Texans were 5-3 SU but just 2-6 ATS at home this season. The Bills were solid on the road going 6-2 SU and 6-1-1 ATS as visitors. Those numbers are reflective of Houston being small 2.5-point favorites in this match.
While they haven’t won much during the playoffs, Houston has more postseason experience. Bills head coach Sean McDermott has done a decent job of turning the Bills around over the last three seasons. Texans bench boss Bill O'Brien is in his sixth year in Houston. Although O'Brien is just 1-3 in the playoffs, he has won enough regular season games to keep his job. Lay the short line and back the Texans.
Pick: Texans -2.5
Season Record: 38-56-2