Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills (12/31/19): NFL Betting Picks, Lines

Week 16: 2-4
All Time Results: 108-94-2, +16.98 Units

Houston Texans -2.5 (-117) vs. Buffalo Bills -.1 Units

The smart money has moved this line from Texans -3.5 to Texans -2.5 since Sunday.  Call me square, but I can only pick the favorite here.  At the end of the day, the QB disparity is just too gaping for me to overlook.  This is a Steve Young vs. Ron Jaworski situation.

QB Disparity

DeShaun Watson – much like Carson Wentz at the beginning of the year – has seen his stock inexplicably drop despite continuing the stellar play that has exemplified his whole career.  Despite the Texans’ struggles at Offensive Line, and with weapons like Will Fuller in and out of the lineup, Watson has again lead his team to 10 wins.  For the season, he posted a very respectable 68.9 Total QBR.  And for his career, Watson has now won 65% of his starts and has a Yards Per Attempt (8.1) and a QB Rating (101.0) that will rank near the top of the list in NFL history as soon as he plays enough games to qualify.

While Watson has carried the Texans, Josh Allen has largely been the beneficiary of great coaching and great team play around him.  The NextGen Stats paint a very different picture of the 2nd year signal-caller.   Josh Allen has a completion percentage of 4 points lower than expected, according to NFL.com’s NextGen Stats.  That is the 5th lowest in the league.  Worse, Pro Football Focus grades Allen out at 64, the 40th rated QB by their system.   Allen does a lot of things well.  But his accuracy is sub-par and while he is a threat on the ground, he rarely uses his escapability to create the game-breaking play that other Dual-Threat QBs like Patrick Mahomes regularly do.

Strength of Schedule Edge

While I don’t have the exact numbers, the trend of playing on a team for Wild Card Weekend that has a superior strength of schedule is one of the better-known edges in the sports betting universe. It makes a lot of sense.  Casual bettors look at the raw standings and make 75% of their conclusions without reference to the route to get there.  They think over 16 games all of that must even out.  The truth is it really doesn’t.  Teams that have the same record but have faced a tougher schedule often prove significantly better than expected.

Rarely do we have such as the stark example of SOS disparity as we do in this matchup.  Using Football Outsiders numbers, the Bills had the 3rd easiest schedule in the NFL, while the Texans had the 6th hardest.

On a weekend where several All-time Greats match-up against QBs making their 1st or 2nd playoff appearance, I like Deshaun Watson to continue his ascent toward the former designation.  Sure, I like Bill’s defense better than the Texans just like you.  I like the Bills coaching staff better too.  All of that is relevant and important.  But I just think Deshaun Watson is too good to start his playoff career 0-2.  Too good to lose a duel with Josh Allen.   My prediction: Texans get off the snide with their second playoff victory in the last seven years.

Houston 24, Bills 20.

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Regular Season Futures Recap:

14-9, +6 Units

ATL WR Julio Jones U 8 TDs (-110)  +.91
CHI Wins Under 9.5 (-165) +.61
CLE Wins < Pit Wins  +1
CLE to miss playoffs  +1.02
KAS RB Damian Williams Und 775 rush yards +.91
No team to go 16-0 +.04
DAL to make playoffs (+110) -1
BUF QB Josh Allen most rushing yards for QB -.25
BUF Wins> NYJ Wins  +1.3
NWE to win AFC East (-550) +.18
NWE to win AFC East (-1000) +.1
LAR WR Cooper Kupp O 950.5 yds +.91
BAL to win AFC North (+180) +.45
NOR to miss playoffs (+130) -.25
CAR to win NFC South (+500) -.2
BUF to miss Playoffs (+220) -.1
LAC to make playoffs (+400) -.25
IND to Make Playoffs (-150) -.45
GNB to win NFC North (+120) +.3
GNB to win NFC North (-118) +.423
PIT to win AFC North (+700) -.125
MIA to Win First Pick in Draft (-125) -.2
HOU to win AFC South (-139) +.72

TBD Futures

49ers to win SB (+550) (Bet 1 unit) –
BAL to win SB (+270) (Bet 1 unit)

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Born in Chicago, born for Las Vegas, Mackenzie is a graduate of Yale University with a BA in English & Creative Writting. Mackenzie runs AlternativeStats.blog, which seeks to by-pass the minutiae of commonly cited sports statistics and expose the heart of what drives athletic success. After several successful years investing in Las Vegas real estate, Mackenzie is excited to transition in 2019 into betting on sports full time, as well as documenting his thought process as he further learns the craft.

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