The NFL Playoffs kickoff this Saturday, starting with the AFC Wild Card Round. The AFC is wide open this year, and one of these teams can easily find themselves representing the AFC in Super Bowl 50.
Houston: Completely throw out KC’s 27-20 victory over Houston in Week 1. Both teams are playing at a completely different level than they were earlier in the season. Led by last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, and prolific television commercial actor, JJ Watt, Houston comes into Saturday’s game with the 3rd ranked defense in the league. QB Brian Hoyer also enjoyed a quiet breakout season, putting up a 91.4 QB Rating in 11 games. And the best WR that nobody is talking about, DeAndre Hopkins, just torched the league to the tune of 111/1,521/11. Houston has won six of their last eight games, and are fired up to avenge their Week 1 loss.
Kansas City: KC is on a 10-game win streak of their own, and have been the talk of the NFL for weeks now. They are not invincible though. They struggled to beat the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders at home the last two weeks, winning by a measly ten combined points. Alex Smith is also not the strong-armed, gun slinging QB you want to bet on in a road playoff game against the 3rd best pass defense in the league. Do not be surprised if KC finds it very hard to come by points this Saturday. KC does have a strong defense, ranked 7th in the league, but they are not the type of dominating unit that can carry the team on their own.
The Pick: If you are looking for the “nobody believed in us” team, Houston is it. Admit it, you still don’t believe in them (Update: And for good reason, as they just got blown out 30-0 on Saturday). I do though. Take Houston at home plus the 3.5 points.
Andy Dalton got injured at the wrong time. Big Ben’s injury came at the right time. I could write a longer analysis, but sometimes it really is that simple.
The Pick: Pitt -3
By Michael Halpern