Pick 1: Houston vs. Kansas City and Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh

Pick 1: Houston vs. Kansas City and Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh

The Teaser: Pair Houston and Cincinnati

Game 1: Houston vs. Kansas City

The Initial Line:

Houston +3 home vs. Kansas City

The Take:

Add 8.5 points to Houston’s line

The Final Line:

Houston +11.5

The Breakdown:

Kansas City ended the season with their 10th straight win, as they won at home vs Oakland 23-17. Houston also ended on a high note, beating down at home on divisional foe Jacksonville 30-6. On paper Kansas City looks like the hottest team in football, as they had the longest win streak in the NFL and look well rounded on both sides of the ball. I think what a lot of people are underestimating is how good Houston has been playing. Everyone know about their strong defense led by JJ Watt, who ended with the most sacks in the NFL at 17.5. What most don’t realize is how good their offense has played, as they have put up 21 pts in 5 of their last 7 games (5-2 record over that stretch). Also KC has struggled a bit lately despite still winning. Their last 2 games have been won by a total of 10 pts. Both teams rank in the top 10 in turnover differential, which shows that they can protect the ball. The defenses will control this low-scoring game. It’s a toss up as to who wins this one, but getting Houston with over an 11 pt advantage at home vs a mediocre offense seems like the safe bet here.

Final Stat: KC lives on throwing short passes, which will be an issue vs Houston. They held opponents to a 54.5 QBR on throws less than 15 yds, 4th best in the NFL.

Game 2: Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh

The Initial Line:

Cincinnati +2.5 home vs. Pittsburgh

The Take:

Add 8.5 points to Cincinnati’s line

The Final Line:

Cincinnati +11

The Breakdown:

Cincinnati was able to hold on against their divisional foe Baltimore, as they won at home 24-16. Pittsburgh snuck into the #6 seed in the playoffs after New York lost, as they went on the road to defeat Cleveland 28-12. This is the classic showdown that everyone wants to see. These teams have gotten very physical in the 2 games played this season, and Andy Dalton broke his thumb last time trying to make a tackle and has been out since. Cincinnati has still gone 2-1 with AJ McCarron at QB, who will likely get the start in this one. Another reason for the continued success is their defense, who has held teams to 10 pts or less 5 times this season (including once against Pittsburgh). The season series is split 1-1, but none of that matters now. Cincinnati has been one-and-done in the playoffs for 4 straight years with one of their best teams ever. Maybe having a new QB at the helm will help, but you know they’ll be very motivated to end that trend this week in front of the home crowd. Another toss up game between 2 strong opponents, but getting 11 pts at home with a powerhouse like Cincinnati is a no-brainer no matter who they’re playing.

Final Stat: Cincinnati had the 3rd best turnover differential and allowed the 2nd lowest point total/game (17.4 PPG) in the NFL this season.

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