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Buffalo can win their Wild Card game outright if the defense shows up

The Bills and Texans square off to open Wild Card weekend. The Texans have a decided offensive advantage, but the Bills defense could prove problematic for DeShaun Watson and Co.

The Houston Texans host the Buffalo Bills on Saturday in a Wild Card round matchup pitting two young quarterbacks looking to build on regular season success. DeShaun Watson is looking to take the next step in his career and get his first career playoff win. Josh Allen has dealt with some inconsistency this year, but is looking to continue pushing back against the naysayers.

The game kicks off at 4:35 p.m. on ESPN/ABC. Houston won four of five before resting some key starters in Week 17. Buffalo lost two of three to playoff contenders before resting some of their key starters as well in Week 17.

Injury report

Bills

The big issue for Buffalo is the status of Levi Wallace. He suffered an ankle sprain last week that cost him one day of practice and left him limited the other two days this week. He seems on track to play, but DeShaun Watson could go after a potentially gimpy Wallace all day on Saturday.

Questionable: DE Shaq Lawson (hamstring), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), WR Andre Roberts (foot), CB Levi Wallace (ankle)

Texans

Will Fuller has been limited all week by a groin injury, and NFL Network reporter James Palmer is hearing he is a long shot to play on Saturday. The Texans offense is dangerous as is, but Fuller is a huge playmaker that would give them a big boost.

Questionable: S Jahleel Addae (Achilles’), TE Jordan Akins (hamstring), WR Will Fuller (groin), CB Johnathan Joseph (hamstring), CB Bradley Roby (hamstring)

Betting splits

The betting public is backing the Bills across the board at DraftKings Sportsbook. 63 percent of the handle and 62 percent of tickets bet on the money line (team to win) are on Buffalo. Meanwhile, 60 percent of handle and 55 percent of tickets bet on the point spread (Texans -3) are on the Bills to cover. The point total sits at 44 on Friday, and we have a split on betting. 54 percent of handle is on the over, while 53 percent of tickets bet are on the under.

Pick Against the Spread

Early in the week, I was leaning Bills to win outright at +2.5 and under 42.5. I’m sticking with it, which I suppose is not a surprise with the line now to +3 and the point total up to 44. The point total is right on a magic number, meaning a 24-20 game gets a push. on that.

Josh Allen’s first playoff game (on the road) is not exactly something to be super enamored by, but I’m a bit more comfortable jumping on the Bills defense in this one. Wallace’s injury is a concern, but with Will Fuller unlikely to play for Houston, I feel a little better about it. The Bills rank sixth in defensive efficiency, and while it did come against the 31st ranked schedule of opponents, I suspect they can hold up against Watson and company.

That being said, I don’t think the Bills can win or cover in this game if it goes over the point total. If you think this turns into a more high-scoring affair, you’d be better suited betting on the Texans. I’m personally going with the Bills and the under.

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