The first game on this Sunday divisional playoff slate offers us a look at the future of the quarterback position in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson have both revolutionized their teams, and revolutionized the entire league, making big play after big play and setting the trend for elite quarterback play across the league.
Watson and Co. head up to Arrowhead to face Mahomes and the Chiefs on their home turf, and it’s set to be a chilly matchup, with the temperature hovering right around the mid 30s with occasional 10-15 mph gusts. Can Watson put this team on his back again and get the Houston Texans one step closer to their first ever super bowl berth? Let’s dig in.
HOU at KC, Sunday 3:05pm EST
Spread: KC (-10.5)
(all spreads and totals as of Saturday at 4pm EST. Odds subject to change)
Right away, the total is what stands out to me. Arrowhead Stadium has been very profitable for the under, being a difficult place to play with the loud fan base and the elements in the winter months. While the public has sided with the over, the under may be the better play here.
The casual bettor sees Deshaun Watson versus Patrick Mahomes and thinks over all the way, which is why this line has actually climbed to 51.5 after opening at 50. Don’t be fooled by that total increase. You’ve heard the saying “offense wins games, but defense wins championships,” and that definitely holds true in an environment like Arrowhead.
The Chiefs offense with Mahomes grabs all the headlines, but their defense has very quietly been dominant these past few games, holding opposing offenses to a combined 27 points in their last 3 regular season games.
But as we all know, Deshaun Watson may be the best quarterback in the league at mounting comebacks and winning games in the final seconds. Even though Houston is capable is scoring at any time from anywhere on the field, I think the Chiefs defense limits Hopkins and a hobbled Will Fuller, and causes Houston to focus more on their run game. The apt strategy for the Texans to take would be to establish the running game early, as that is the one way to attack the KC defense and also keep the explosive Mahomes off the field. This in turn will slow the game down much more and lead to fewer scoring opportunities, which are already hard to come by in a place like Arrowhead.
The angle to take: Under 51.5
Playoff games tend to be closer and more tightly contested, because of the more similar talent levels of each team and coaching staff. That being said, I would advise staying away from the spread entirely in this game if it drops to worse than HOU +10. The all-important number of 10 in betting football spreads is key here, as there is much more value in getting an underdog at +10 than +9, because of expected and average margins of victory.
The second angle to take: HOU (+10.5) or HOU ML (+340)
Kansas City has the upper hand in this game, which is why I advise not doubling down on Houston. While the point spread is a bit too high, Kansas City is fully capable of taking advantage of a lackluster Houston secondary and opening this game up early.
With the point total being over 49, this game could be very volatile and high variance, especially when you consider the elite quarterback matchup. Watson is quite capable of pulling off this upset, and Mahomes is quite capable of making this game over by halftime.
That’s why if you’re unable to get Houston at +10 or better, the Houston moneyline may be the way to go. This could turn into a back-and-forth affair, and could be decided by the team that possesses the ball last. This game will be difficult to project in terms of a winner since teams like Houston are capable of getting hot and riding a game-breaker like Watson all the way to the Super Bowl. Because of all that uncertainty, I’ll side with the plus odds in the Texans. Vegas expects Kansas City to win this game by more than a touchdown, but getting better than +300 odds on Deshaun Watson to pull off an upset is simply too good to pass up.
Picture Source: Arrowheadpride.com
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