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Reply To: ♦ AFC Wild Card Playoffs ♦ Saturday 1/9/16

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‘Game of the Day’

Saturday’s NFL Wild Card games

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (+3.5, 40)

The two hottest teams in the NFL kick off the AFC wild-card round on Saturday as the Kansas City Chiefs look to extend their franchise-best 10-game winning streak when they visit the AFC South-champion Houston Texans. Kansas City rebounded from a horrid 1-5 start to run the remainder of the regular-season table and push Denver to the limit before the Broncos claimed the AFC West title on Sunday.

Spencer Ware rushed for his team-leading sixth touchdown in Kansas City’s 23-17 victory over Oakland on Sunday, but the 24-year-old was on the practice squad when the Chiefs posted a 27-20 victory over Houston on Sept. 13. Jamaal Charles’ season-ending ACL injury a month later expanded the workload of Charcandrick West and Ware while Alex Smith’s conservative passing game helped Kansas City advance to the postseason for the second time in three years. While the Chiefs are favored on the road, the Texans have won three straight to unseat Indianapolis as the AFC South champion. Brian Hoyer, who was benched in the Week 1 loss to Kansas City, threw for 249 yards and a touchdown on Sunday as Houston claimed its first division title since 2012 with a 30-6 rout of Jacksonville.

TV: 4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN.

LINE HISTORY:
Books opened the Chiefs as 3-point road faves but that is now -3.5. The total is down to 40 from the opening 40.5.

INJURY REPORT:

Chiefs – LB Tamba Hali (Probable, thumb), LB Justin Houston (Probable, knee), WR Jeremy Maclin (Probable, hip), DB Husain Abdullah (Questionable, concussion), T Jah Reid (Questionable, knee), LB D.J. Alexander (Questionable, concussion), OL Mitch Morse (Questionable, concussion), LB Dee Ford (Questionable, concussion), WR De’Anthony Thomas (I-R, concussion), OL Ben Grubbs (I-R, neck), TE James O’Shaughnessy (I-R, foot), RB Jamaal Charles (I-R, knee), DB Phillip Gaines (I-R, knee), OL Paul Fanaika (I-R, undisclosed), QB Tyler Bray (I-R, knee), LB Justin March (I-R, knee).

Texans – WR Cecil Shorts (Probable, hamstring), WR Nate Washington (Probable, hip), S Rahim Moore (Questionable, illness), LB Jadeveon Clowney (Questionable, foot), DE Jeoffrey Pagan (Questionable, illness), T Duane Brown (I-R, quadriceps), DB Charles James (I-R, foot), QB T.J. Yates (I-R, knee), C Greg Mancz (I-R, knee), RB Arian Foster (I-R, Achilles), S Lonne Ballentine (I-R, knee), LB Carlos Thompson (I-R, wrist), T Jeff Adams (I-R, knee), QB Tom Savage (I-R, shoulder), LB Reshard Cliett (I-R, knee), T David Quessenberry (I-R, illness).

WEATHER: N/A

POWER RANKINGS:
Chiefs (-3) + Texans (+1.5) + home field (-3.0) = Chiefs -1.5

WHAT CAPPERS SAY:
“Trend bettors take note: Teams riding a winning streak of eight games or more coming into the playoffs (like the Chiefs) are on a 1-14 ATS slump in their first postseason game since 2004.” Teddy Covers.

ABOUT THE CHIEFS (11-5 SU, 8-8 ATS, 8-7-1 O/U):
Smith tossed two of his three touchdown passes to Travis Kelce in the win over Houston, with the tight end making six catches for a season-high 106 yards. Jeremy Maclin was limited to five receptions for 52 yards in that contest but has settled in as Smith’s go-to receiver after finding the end zone six times in the last six games – including once in each of the past three weeks. Maclin suffered a bruised hip versus the Raiders but returned to finish that contest and is expected to play on Saturday.

ABOUT THE TEXANS (9-7 SU, 9-7 ATS, 8-7-1 O/U):
Stud defensive end J.J. Watt shed the cast on his broken left hand and registered three sacks versus the Jaguars on Sunday to finish the season with an NFL-best 17.5. Whitney Mercilus tied a career high with 3 1/2 last week and set a personal best with 12 this season for Houston, which recorded a franchise-best 45 sacks. Pro Bowl wideout DeAndre Hopkins (career-high 111 catches, 1,521 yards, 11 touchdowns) began his breakout season with nine catches for 98 yards and two scores versus the Chiefs.

TRENDS:

* Road team is 6-1 ATS in their last seven meetings.

* Chiefs are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings in Houston.

* Chiefs are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.

* Texans are 5-1-2 ATS in their last eight games in January.

CONSENSUS:
Sixty percent are backing the Chiefs.

PREDICTION: Chiefs 24, Texans 16