Houston vs. Kansas City Divisional Round Expert Betting Picks
Pretty clearly the marquee matchup of the Divisional Round from an exciting young quarterback perspective is when Deshaun Watson's Houston Texans visit Patrick Mahomes' Kansas City Chiefs in a 3:05 p.m. ET kickoff on Sunday. The winner most likely will be in Baltimore (and an underdog) next Sunday. Of course, Watson and Mahomes were both 2017 first-round picks … and taken after Chicago traded up for Mitchell Trubisky (sorry, Bears fans).
It really doesn't matter whether a star player wins a Super Bowl on whether he will eventually be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Two names that immediately come to mind as all-time greats who never won a Super Bowl but were first-ballot inductees are former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino (reached one SB and lost) and ex-Lions running back Barry Sanders (never came close to a Super Bowl).
However, these days it probably takes at least one title for a head coach to eventually become a Hall of Famer. And that brings me to Kansas City's Andy Reid. An argument could be made that he has been the second-best coach in the NFL this generation, behind only Bill Belichick. Well, from a regular-season perspective. Reid has a career-winning percentage over 21 combined seasons with the Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles of nearly .620. His teams have finished with a losing record only a couple of times and not since 2012 in Philly, which was Reid's final year there.
Kansas City has won double-digit games in all but one of Reid's seasons and was 9-7 in that outlier (2014). Reid is an offensive genius and has the best "coaching tree" currently in the NFL - way better than Belichick's - with the likes of Doug Pederson (Eagles), John Harbaugh (Ravens), Sean McDermott (Bills) and Matt Nagy (Bears) all being former Reid assistants. Pederson and Harbaugh both have won a Super Bowl, and Harbaugh might again this season. Nagy got the Bears a division title in 2017 and McDermott has worked wonders in Buffalo.
The problem with Reid's teams is that they tend to flop in the playoffs, and there has been some questionable clock management on his part in some losses. Reid is just 12-14 in the postseason (2-5 with K.C.) and only reached the Super Bowl following the 2004 season with the Eagles, who lost to the Patriots in SB XXXIX. Might this be the season that Reid finally gets that final line on his Hall of Fame resume?
Houston, meanwhile, is one of four active franchises to never make a Super Bowl along with Jacksonville, Cleveland and Detroit. The Chiefs are +175 to win the AFC title and +350 for the Super Bowl, while the Texans are +2000 and +4000, respectively.
Texans at Chiefs Betting Story Lines
If I'm starting an NFL franchise right now, I probably rank Mahomes first on my proverbial list and Watson second just because both should dominate for at least a decade barring injury. This could well be the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady AFC rivalry of the next generation.
Watson showed his immense talent in overtime of last Saturday's 22-19 overtime win over Buffalo - not the sexiest matchup yet the most-viewed Wild-Card Game ever on ESPN and ABC. On second-and-6 at the Buffalo 44 with about four minutes left in the first OT (they keep playing overtimes in the postseason until there's a winner), Watson somehow eluded what looked to be sure sack and hit Taiwan Jones on a 34-yard pass to set up Ka'imi Fairbairn's winning 28-yard field goal.
Watson was very good on the day in completing 20 of 25 for 247 yards and a score while rushing 16 times for 55 yards and a touchdown. Three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt returned from a midseason torn pectoral and had a key sack. That's the good news. The bad is that Houston was down 16-0 in the third and its porous offensive line allowed Watson to get sacked seven more times. The Texans can't allow him to run 16 times every week, either, or he's simply going to get hurt.
Buffalo's defense is better than Kansas City's, but that Chiefs unit has actually allowed the fewest points per game since losing 35-32 in Tennessee in Week 10. Just one team has scored more than 17 points since on new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's unit. He has been a huge addition and so has free-agent safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was named first-team All-Pro at defensive back and second-team at safety. Kansas City was probably the AFC's best team last season, but then-coordinator Bob Sutton's defense was a major problem. Now it might be a strength.
Texans at Chiefs Betting Odds and Trends
Kansas City is a 10.5-point favorite (+115) with a total of 51. On the moneyline, the Chiefs are -420 and Texans +335. On some alternate lines, K.C. is -10 (+103), -9.5 (-110), -7.5 (-130), -7 (-155) and -6.5 (+180). The Texans are 5-2-1 against the spread on the road and 3-5 "over/under." The Chiefs are 4-3-1 ATS at home and 5-3 O/U.
Houston is 4-11 ATS in its past 15 road games vs. teams with a winning home record. It is 0-3-1 ATS in its past four following an ATS win. Kansas City is 4-0-1 ATS in its past five as a favorite but 2-5 ATS in its previous seven as a playoff favorite. The under is 11-5 in the Texan's past 16 as a road dog. It's 4-1 in the Chiefs' previous five as a favorite. The road team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings.
Texans at Chiefs Betting Prediction
The first meeting of these quarterbacks was Week 6 and Houston played one of its best games of the season - at least for three quarters - in a 31-24 upset in Kansas City. The Chiefs led 17-3 after one. Watson threw for a score and ran for two, while Carlos Hyde added 116 yards and a TD on the ground; he was traded from Kansas City to Houston this preseason. Mahomes threw for 273 and three scores but had a pick and a lost fumble. Tyreek Hill caught two TD passes.
I don't take a heck of a lot from that game as Mahomes was less than 100 percent with an ankle injury and K.C.'s defense is much better now. But I can see the margin of victory being the same - in favor of Kansas City. I'll take the 10.5 points and go under the total.
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