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NFL Playoffs Divisional Preview: Texans at Chiefs

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs

Spread: Chiefs -9.5 | Over/Under: 50

After an exciting Wild Card Weekend in the NFL, it’s time to look at this next group of games for the Divisional Round of the playoffs. I’ll be looking at Sunday’s first matchup between the Texans and the Chiefs. In an exciting game against the Bills, we saw DeShaun Watson step up and lead the Texans to a victory after being down 16-points to Josh Allen and the Bills. Let’s hope this weekend gives us a group of games that are just as exciting as this Wild Card Weekend was. This matchup between the Texans and Chiefs kicks off on Sunday at 3:05 PM EST.

The line for this matchup has slowly gone up, as it started at an over/under of 48.5 with the Chiefs as the favored team at -7. In 2016, these teams met in a Wild Card game where the Chiefs won their first playoff game in 23 seasons, defeating the Texans 30-0. Last year, we saw the Chiefs and MVP Patrick Mahomes lose to New England in the Conference Championship in overtime. The Texans on the other hand, are coming off of their fourth playoff victory in the history of their franchise. The Texans did win in their last matchup against the Chiefs this year in Arrowhead, but Patrick Mahomes was dealing with his lingering ankle injury, Sammy Watkins was inactive, and this was the first matchup that Tyreek Hill was active after his collarbone injury.

Keys to the Game: Kansas City Chiefs

In what looks to be an exciting matchup in Kansas City, I like the Chiefs to make a statement and remind everyone just how good Mahomes is. The Chiefs offense is going to put up points, and that’s pretty much a given. The biggest thing with the Chiefs will be their defense. The defense needs to stop Watson and the Texans offense and keep possession of the ball as much as possible.

The Chiefs are expected to score, and part of what they need to do to win is jumping on the Texans quickly and put some points on the board. The Chiefs scoring early and winning the time of possession battle are major keys to winning this one.

Keys to the Game: Houston Texans

The defense is going to be the biggest factor for the Texans. The secondary and rushing defense have both struggled this year and will need to step up in a major way and shut down Mahomes as much as possible. Obviously the offense will need to be on point and a big part of that is getting the running game going. The offense can be electric when it gets going, and they’re definitely going to have their work cut out for them. The biggest thing is going to be for the defense to do as much as possible in shutting down the Chiefs offense.

Fantasy Take: Start’em Sit’em

Fantasy football comes in all sorts of formats during this time of year. Whether you’re in playoff leagues or playing DFS, these starts and sits can be applied to whatever formats you’re playing in this week:


There are plenty of fantasy options in this matchup, and as I’m expecting the Chiefs offense to put up numbers, the first name is obviously Mahomes. Mahomes is the second-most expensive QB on the slate after Lamar Jackson, on both DraftKings and FanDuel. If you’re playing in fantasy playoff leagues, I’d lean on Mahomes as most owners will likely be looking at Jackson against the Titans. I wouldn’t be targeting Watson, but if you’re getting into GPPs, he is worth considering as a contrarian play.

Running Backs

At the running back position, I’m targetting Damien Williams on the Chiefs and fading LeSean McCoy. While he was active in Week 17 against the Chargers, McCoy didn’t see the field and Williams saw the bulk of the carries. Last year we saw Williams blow up towards the end of the season, and in the last games he’s been active he’s been the workhorse. He’s also found the end zone three times in the last two games against the Chargers and Bears. I’d expect the Chiefs to get up on the Texans early, and they could very well start leaning on Williams for the rest of the game. The Texans are also not great against the run, but they do have Watt back, but I’d still gravitate towards Williams.

Wide Receivers

deandre hopkinsDeAndre Hopkins and Tyreek Hill are elite options in fantasy football when they’re healthy and on the field. It will be tough to get away from either of these two, regardless of the matchup or the game script. Davante Adams is the most expensive wide receiver on the slate this weekend, with Hopkins and Hill as the next two. Hill always has the chance to break off a big play at any time, and Hopkins is a must-start player week in and week out.

Outside of Hopkins and Hill, Will Fuller is someone I’d avoid this week as a boom or bust option, in a tough matchup. I’d look towards Kenny Stills as a cheaper option and someone to gamble on breaking off a big touchdown. Watkins is very tough to trust, and he’s just not involved enough to play even in this matchup.

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce is always in play as one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Mahomes continues to get him involved and relies on him week in and week out. As the most expensive option the slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel, it’s tough to get away from Kelce and his weekly upside/safe floor. Darren Fells and Jordan Akins are both cheap options, with Akins being the one I’d lean towards if I had to. Both are touchdown-dependent and are really just punts at the TE position.

My Pick

I fully expect the Chiefs to come out firing all cylinders, and Mahomes to remind everyone just why he was last year’s MVP. With the majority of the hype around the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers this year, I expect the Chiefs to come out and make a statement this week. After enjoying their bye week and getting well-rested, I like the Chiefs to make a deep playoff run this year and it will get kicked off by a big win at home against Houston.

I like Mahomes and the Kansas City offense to show up in a big way this week and for the Chiefs to cover the current spread.

My Pick: Chiefs 30-17

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