Liev Jackson NFL Picks: Chiefs vs Texans, Two of the Hottest Teams Face Off to Kick Off Wildcard Weekend
Friday, January 08, 2016
by Liev Jackson
Chiefs: 11-5 SU,8-8 ATS
Texans: 9-7 SU,9-7 ATS
When: 4:35 PM ET, Saturday, January 9, 2016
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
The Kansas City Chiefs have won ten games in a row. They were one Denver loss away in the last two weeks from clinching the division after their disastrous 1-5 start.
Everyone knows they’ve been doing it with incredible defence. In a year where 11 teams held opponents under 20 points per game, they’ve been at or near the top. In fact in their last twelve games there’s only been one game where they allowed more than 20 points and three games where they’ve allowed 10 points or less.
But notice I said in the last twelve games, that means in spite allowing just 18 and 16 points respectively in week 5 to the Bears and week 6 to the Vikings they lost both of those games.
What changed after that is a time tested story in professional sports. Their best offensive player, RB Jamal Charles went down for the season and the offense got markedly better. That loss actually forced the Chiefs to become more of a team and newcomers like WR Jeremy Maclin and TE Travis Kelce stepped up to fill the gap.
As such during the win streak they only had two games where they scored less than 23 points. Add it up and in the ten game streak they’ve averaged almost 28 points a game. And in the last twelve games the defence gave up an average of 13.5 points per game (17.9 overall, third overall).
Even with the running back by committee for 10 games the Chiefs ended up with the sixth best rushing attack in the league (127.8 Y/G). And they also have a great game manager in Alex Smith who threw 20TDs to go along with just 7 INTs.
The main argument going against Kansas City is that of those ten wins, only victories against Pittsburgh and Denver have been against teams with winning records. Another point that is getting obscured is that of late they have had problems holding onto the ball. They have seven turnovers in their last five games and only one game without any turnovers.
And Smith who at one point went nine games in a row without throwing an interception has thrown four in the last four games.
On the plus side, Kansas City has been elite at forcing turnovers all year. Their 29 ranks fifth in the league, the differential of +14 ranks second overall. The defence has forced at least one turnover in the last 12 games and 26 overall in that time.
The Texans are essentially a mirror image of the Chiefs. They too have been getting it done with elite play on defence, anchored by JJ Watt and his league leading 17.5 sacks. But he is not alone back there as Whitney Mercilus also chipped in with 12 sacks, while Jadevon Clowney has contributed as well with 4.5 sacks and as the lead rusher on a series of stunts therefore opening up lanes for his line mates.
They have given up just 22 points in their last three games. While those were to some weaker teams playing out the string, they also gave up a total of 12 points to high flying offences in Cincinnati and New Orleans.
This has been a much improved team that has won seven of nine games heading into this one. They have also done it in spite of the need to start four different QBs this season and three during the recent streak due to injuries.
The offence averaged 21.2 P/G, good enough for 21st. With Brian Hoyer at QB for nine starts the team has averaged 21 P/G. The defence finished seventh with 19.7 P/G.
Overall Houston was 2-3 against teams with above .500 records including a season opening 27-20 loss to Kansas City. They were outscored by an average of 20-15 in those games.
Kanas City was 3-4 against teams above .500. They were outscored 24-23 in those games.
The Chiefs are missing RB Charles, and OL Ben Grubbs.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans Odds & Betting Lines
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The Texans were a 30-6 winner in their most recent outing at home against the Jaguars. They covered the -5.5-point spread as favorites, while the total score (36) made winners of UNDER bettors.
Kansas City won its last outing, a 23-17 result against the Raiders on January 03. The Chiefs failed to cover in that game as a -6.5-point favorite, while the 40 combined points took the game UNDER the total.
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Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans NFL Betting Odds & Trends
Current Streak: won 10 straight games.
Kansas City is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games
Kansas City is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Kansas City is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
Current Streak: won 3 straight games.
Houston is 7-2 ATS in its last 9 games
Houston is 7-2 SU in its last 9 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Houston's last 6 games
The Bottom Line: 3.5 points is a lot for this game if you think it’ll be low scoring. I think Kansas City’s offence doesn’t get enough credit. They have put up points against many of the best defences in the league, while the same can’t be said for Houston. If they win the turnover battle, they’ll win easily. The Pick: Chiefs 28-17.