With the NFL regular season completed, we turn our attention to one of the best weekends in sports, wild-card weekend. With just four games coming over the course of this weekend, the sportsbooks always add some extra props options for bettors to wager on.
Wild-card weekend is one of my favorite times of the football season next to opening weekend in September. There is usually more than one mismatch on the four-game card and several opportunities to expose the lines and continue to profit off the NFL.
Here we will look past the point spread for the sake of this article and dive into some of the best prop bets for each game with some picks, predictions and analysis.
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans
NRG Stadium, 4:30 p.m. EST. Jan. 9, 2016
After dismal starts for both teams this season, very few people thought we would see this matchup for game one of the 2016 postseason. The Chiefs are riding high with a 10-game win streak, while Houston went 7-2 SU down the stretch to capture their third division crown in five years. The Texans have won both wild-card games after capturing the division in 2011 and 2012. The Chiefs are back in the playoffs after a one-and-done postseason in 2014. The Chiefs have not tasted a playoff victory since 1994.
Team With Highest Scoring Quarter:
KC -125, Tie +475, Houston +160
I have to go with the Chiefs here laying the short price of -125. During the Chiefs unexpected run to the postseason (winning 10 straight games to finish the season 11-5), KC has cashed this bet eight times, with one loss and one tie. That's an impressive feat for an offense that lost their Pro Bowl RB Jamaal Charles early this season and who went the entire 2014 season without throwing a touchdown pass to a wide receiver.
One of the main reasons I like this bet is the fact that the Chiefs don't turn the ball over a lot and won't give Houston QB Brian Hoyer an opportunity to work with short fields. The Chiefs rank third overall in points against with 17.9 per game and will be able to pressure Hoyer into a few key mistakes, leading to short fields of their own. Ten or 14 points will win this, and the hot hand right now lies with Alex Smith.
Pick: KC -125
Total Completions - Alex Smith
"Over" 18.5 -110, "Under" 18.5 -110
It's hard to imagine winning a playoff game where your quarterback doesn't complete 19 passes in a 60-minute game. You could argue the fact that Alex Smith completed more than 19 passes only one time in his last three games, but circumstances are different now. Cleveland and Oakland are ranked third to last and 13th in run defense, respectively. That's a recipe to pound the rock and keep the clock ticking against inferior teams while putting up points. Houston ranks 10th-best in stopping the run, yielding a pedestrian 99.8 yards per game. Andy Reid always adds a wrinkle to his game plan, and I'd be willing to suggest he slows down that JJ Watt pass rush with quick screens and slants. This number will get to 19 one way or another.
Pick: "Over" 18.5
Shortest Touchdown Scored
"Over" 1.5 -110, "Under" 1.5 -110
Some people could argue this is a complete tossup prop, but I think this game is going to be played between the 10-yard line of either end. Houston comes into this game without a strong running game. Alfred Blue will be the feature back for the Texans, and in the season-opener he rushed for only 42 yards on nine carries. The other side of the coin is the Chiefs run game. Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware form a dangerous duo, but the Texans should be able to bottle up the pair. Not to mention the hot hand Alex Smith has. I think the Chiefs have the edge on offense when they are in shotgun, and a one-yard TD pass is a rare thing in the NFL. I'm going to side with the pass-catchers and look for nothing shorter than a five-yard touchdown.
Pick: "Over" 1.5 -110
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