Let's make some NFL playoff predictions. The Kansas City Chiefs will be a 3-point favorite when they visit the Texans in Houston for Wild Card weekend. The NFL playoff schedule set up well for the Chiefs to potentially get their first playoff win since January 16, 1994. Most people are picking the Chiefs to win as you can see below.
SB Nation: 7/8 pick Chiefs
ESPN: 12/13 pick Chiefs
Sports Illustrated: 1/1 picks Chiefs
USA Today: 7/7 pick Chiefs
CBS Sports: 5/8 pick Chiefs
Fox Sports: 7/8 pick Chiefs
NFL.com: 1/1 pick Chiefs
Battle Red Blog: 3/7 pick Chiefs
Here's what the AP staff thinks. Shockingly, no one picked the Texans...
Joel Thorman: Chiefs 24 Texans 16
Who's going to be the local media person to pick against the Chiefs, a road favorite in Houston? Not I. The Chiefs are the better team and it finally feels like this playoff winless streak is time to come to an end.
MNChiefsfan: Chiefs 27 Texans 17
I've seen a lot of narrative this week about how different the Texans are than they were Week 1, and how dominant their defense has been down the stretch. Well, the Chiefs are different as well (they now have Sean Smith back, with Dontari Poe, Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry finally at full strength, and Marcus Peters is exponentially better now than he was in Week 1) with regards to the defense. All you need to do is watch the Chiefs defense (or look at the numbers) to see how different they are from the early part of this year. So both teams share that trait.
The primary difference, though, is in the offense. Last I checked the Texans are going to be trotting out the exact same Brian Hoyer that got yanked after getting completely smothered by the Chiefs in Week 1 (despite having a freak of nature in DeAndre Hopkins to throw to). There's nothing about the Texans offense (24th in weighted DVOA) down the stretch that indicates they'll fare any better against the Chiefs defense than they did last time. In fact, the Texans offense is WORSE off now than it was in Week 1, with the loss of Duane Brown (who did a great job vs. Tamba Hali in Week 1) creating a really tough situation for Hoyer.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, are significantly better on offense (despite a lot of hand-wringing to the contrary). They've developed the most efficient running game in the league, Jeremy Maclin has been exceptional, and (most importantly) Alex Smith is now Alex Smith 2.0. This is simply a better offense than the Texans faced in Week 1, while the Texans have stayed pretty much the same.
Nothing is a given in the playoffs, and the Texans are a decent team. But I see the Chiefs pulling this one out.
Matt Conner: Chiefs 20 Texans 3
Both defenses are stout, and both teams are better than they were in Week 1. The coaching acumen of Bill O'Brien should also be applauded, as I've been a big fan of what he's been able to do with Houston since his arrival. That said, when you've ridden Brandon Weeden to the postseason, it doesn't bode well for the actual event, and even though Brian Hoyer will be at the helm, the Texans offense should be easy for KC's suffocating defense to overcome. Duane Brown's injury only helps a Chiefs defense getting some key pieces back. I don't even think it will be that close.
Clay Wendler: Chiefs 20 Texans 13
The Texans weren't near good enough to beat the Chiefs in the season opener, and without Duane Brown at LT they'll struggle even more. I'm not sure a guy like Brian Hoyer is equipped to face the secondary and pass rush of the Chiefs. We've already seen it destroy better QBs.
The Chiefs can afford to play this one on offense like it was one of their regular season wins: stay conservative and eventually the defense and the game will come to you thanks to facing an inferior QB. About the only thing that can screw this up is JJ Watt, and I'm sure Andy Reid will have a plan for him. Please throw out all of the seven-step drops, Andy.
Stagdsp: Chiefs 34 Texans 16
History means nothing.This Chiefs team has proven to be deep, mentally tough and that they belong in the playoffs. They didn't back in. They won 10 straight. It's no slight to Houston, they are a solid team with two TOP players. But this is a Chiefs team ready to make a run. It's that simple.
Super_G: Chiefs 31 Texans 23
This is one of those weird games where the defenses are expected to play well but the opposite happens. The offenses for both teams are able to put points on the board. The difference in the game is a Ron Parker pick six. Brian Hoyer will outperform Alex Smith statistically but Smith will do a better job of taking care of the ball and playing smart football. Although the Texans score more than anticipated, the Chiefs defense overcomes a Frankie Hammond fumble in the second half of the game which shifts the momentum in the Chiefs favor. Dustin Colquitt will drop one punt inside the 10, and another inside the five.