The NFL Wild Card Round takes center stage this weekend and the Buffalo Bills (10-6) travel to the Houston Texans (10-6) for a first-round AFC matchup. The winner will play at either the top-seeded Ravens or second-seeded Chiefs in the Divisional Round.
Buffalo is making its second playoff appearance since 1999. The Bills took a 10-3 loss at Jacksonville in a Wild Card game in 2017. The Texans are playing in their sixth Wild Card game since 2012 and are 3-2 in those previous contests. Houston has won four of its last five against Buffalo since 2009 and has won three straight home games over the Bills by an average of 8.3 PPG.
Both teams rested starters in Week 17 with their playoff positioning locked in after the early games. The Texans had won 4 of their previous 5 games, with 3 of those wins coming by 3 points. Buffalo had dropped 2 of its previous 3 contests with 7-point losses to the Ravens and Patriots.
Below, we’ll make our picks for the moneyline, spread and over/under between the Bills and Texans. We’ll also look for the game’s best prop bet at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. Actionable betting advice on each bet type will be provided as either a “pick” or a “lean”. Picks can be made at any point in the week based on the odds and lines at the time of publishing, matchup advantages or a perceived advantage over the sportsbooks. Leans are reserved in anticipation of the lines shifting toward a more desirable number as a result of public betting action.
While researching for your Bills at Texans picks, be sure to check out my Wild Card Football Preview at TheLines. It breaks down the statistical and betting trends of both teams and highlights the key on-field matchups.
Bills at Texans picks: Point Spread
The Texans have played six games this season that were decided by three points or fewer, including their last four wins. The Bills are a stellar defensive team that ranks third in DVOA pass defense and has coughed up the second-fewest passing TDs (16) with 14 interceptions on the year.
Buffalo is 6-0-2 against the spread (ATS) on the road this season and 5-2-2 ATS when listed as an underdog. The Texans were just 2-6 ATS at home and 1-5-1 ATS when listed as a favorite.
The key matchup here will be Bills shutdown CB Tre’Davious White on Texans star WR DeAndre Hopkins. If White can lock down Hopkins in single coverage, the Bills should be able to send more pressure at Deshaun Watson and contain the Texans improving run game.
Buffalo’s offensive line is a bit banged up, but the Bills have established the run with an effective combination of rookie Devin Singletary and veteran Frank Gore. Expect Buffalo to control the ball and keep this game low scoring, allowing the Bills to potentially cover a slim spread or win this game outright.
Note: Underdogs are 7-0-1 ATS in the Wild Card Round over the past two seasons. That trend might not continue at such an alarming rate, but the road-tested Bills are a good bet in Houston.
The Pick: Bills +3 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Bills at Texans picks: Moneyline
If you believe the Bills can cover a 3-point spread, it may make sense to take Buffalo at +146 on FanDuel Sportsbook. Buffalo has been the more consistent and impressive team this season and is getting value because the Bills lack star power.
The Pick: Bills +146 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Bills at Texans picks: Over/Under
The Bills allow the second-fewest PPG (16.2) in the NFL this season and 12 of their 16 games have gone Under the assigned point total. When Buffalo has been listed as an underdog, 8 of its 9 games have gone Under the point total.
When Houston has been listed as a favorite, the Under has hit in 5 of 7 contests this season. The Texans are averaging 20 PPG since their bye week and could certainly fail to hit that number against a stingy Bills defense.
The Lean: UNDER 42 (-115 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
Bills at Texans Best Prop Bet
There are several options available to double down on the Under by going Under the number of total touchdowns in this game. The safest bet is Under 5.5 touchdowns with -315 odds on DraftKings Sportsbook. Going Under 3.5 touchdowns offers a good payout at +188 odds, but we’ll take the middle road at Under 4.5 touchdowns with a -130 payout.
The Bills allow the second-fewest points per drive and rank eighth in red zone defense. Houston has struggled in red zone defense, but the Bills are 22nd in TDs per drive (.204) this season and Josh Allen is not yet proven reliable throwing into tight windows in the red zone.
This article was originally published on Tuesday. Odds subject to change.