STAR PREVIEW: NFL Playoffs Sunday

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

Game 3 – Houston Texans (4) (10-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (2) (12-4)

Arrowhead stadium home of the Kansas City Chiefs hosts Sundays first divisional play-off game against the Houston Texans. The Chiefs came down the stretch to win their last six games and win their fourth consecutive AFC West title. Last season the Chiefs went to the Championship game and lost in overtime at home to eventual Superbowl winners New England Patriots. The Texans are a relatively new team, established in 2002 as an expansion team. They struggled in the early years but have won five of the last seven AFC South championships but are still the only franchise yet to appear in a conference championship game.

Houston Texans met Kansas in week six with the Texans running out thirty-one, twenty-four winners. Since then Kansas have looked a different team with the play-offs at the forefront of their minds. This game in many people’s minds will be nothing less than a shootout. Both teams have been depleted at parts of the season but none more than in that game alone. Chiefs defensive line saw pro bowl selections Chris Jones not play and End Frank Clark struggle with a pinched nerve. With two key players missing on Chiefs defence, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was able to move freely behind the line and was never touched. They failed to make a sack all game which was unfamiliar for Watson having been sacked forty-four times in the regular season alone. The defence has struggled to protect him, especially last week when he was sacked seven times, nearly eight when a remarkable play sealed the game for the Texans.

The Chiefs weren’t the only team with injuries though in the regular season meeting. The Texans didn’t have cornerback Jonathan Joseph, and other key members to boot. But, without doubt were had less problems than the Chiefs.

With what looks like a high scoring game on paper it reads interesting that the Chiefs have allowed the third-fewest points per red zone trip with 4.28 and the Texans allowed the most with 5.63 this regular season. Patrick Mahomes and on field artillery are going to be able to put some points on the board here but it doesn’t mean that Carlos Hyde at running back, DeAndre Hopkins Darren Fells will not make this a landslide.

Watson likes to go on the wander with the ball sometimes and with Hyde they can certainly put some rushing yards on the board. De Andre Hopkins one of the highest paid wide receivers in the game has been a regular receiver of over one thousand yards catching per season with multiple touchdowns.

On defence Texans, J.J. Watt is back after a pectoral muscle injury. The shambolic efforts of this team in recent weeks gets a few patches covered with him in the team but it must be said he admitted he is still not 100%. Worrying for The Texans defence is that they only let Kansas rush for fifty-three yards in October. Since then they have let seven of eight teams rush for over one hundred with a whopping near bottom of the league average against of 121.1 yards per game. Last week against the Bills with Watt on the pitch they gave up 172 yards and you would say Buffalo are certainly not the best run team in the league. The good new for the Chiefs is that Damien Williams has never looked better and in his last two games has rushed for 246 yards with three touchdowns. When they last faced each other, he got one carry for six yards. This alone could be the difference. On the other side Carlos Hyde, a former Chief probably had the biggest game of his career that day after being traded prior to the start of the season where rushed for 116 yards and scored a touchdown. I would imagine head Coach of the Chiefs Andy Reid will make sure he does not have the last laugh in Kansas.

Chiefs fan groaned a sigh of relief midway through the season when Patrick Mahomes looked likely to be out for a long time with a dislocated kneecap and may need surgery. Fortunately, he was back after two games and amassed twenty-six touchdowns with only five interceptions. Mahomes star target is tight end Travis Kelce who has led the Chiefs with ninety-seven catches and finished fourth overall in the league with 1229 receiving yards. However, early this week he as added to the injury report but as expected at this time of the year know decisions or announcements will be made till nearer the game

Deshawn Watson has matched Mahomes with twenty-six touchdowns in the regular season but clearly doesn’t have as many options in the playbook to target. Making big plays is key in big games and there was no bigger last week then Watsons when deep into overtime knew the next score won the match. After overcoming seven sacks, he avoided an eighth when being flattened in a sandwich by two Buffalo players he shrugged them off, spun around in a 360 motion to launch the ball to one of his receivers who saw open field and charged up field near the goal line which resulted in a winning play from the field goal team.

Verdict: This could be once again, so near yet so far for Deshawn Watson and the Houston Texans as a power packed Kansas City Chiefs are a class above with star men all over the field. They have been here and done this before with one of the best QB in the league. Watson has made quite a few errors this year and can be found out by a solid Chiefs defence. With key men coming to the fore when it really matters. Damien Williams could get the run game going and charge through this Houston defence. You would expect Travis Kelce to be ready by game time, and his sheer power has made him near impossible to tackle all season and he marches down the field with Mahomes on a regular basis. If the Texans try and double up on him it could leave other main targets open. It could be a long night for Houston, who may face a big problem

Kansas City Chiefs -7.5 5/6 – 6 points
Kansas City over 29.5 points – 3/4 – 4 points
Kansas/Kansas double result 5/6 – 3 points


SEAHAWKS SWOOP

Game 4 – Seattle Seahawks (5) (11-3) @ Green Bay Packers (2) (13-3)

The final game of the divisional round playoffs will head north to Wisconsin, at Lambeau Field Green Bay, where temperatures in the sky will reach lows of around 17°F but temperature on the field will heat up very quickly. A chance of snow? That could be a huge factor in this game. If it can ever be said, there has never been a more mediocre team at 13-3 to get a bye and be in the playoffs as Green Bay have been this season. But it doesn’t matter how you get the job done, winning is all that matters!

Green Bay Packers head into this game as number two seeds but have not looked statistically good at anything. Finishing the season eighteenth on offence and defence, seventeenth on passing and fifteenth on passing. Not one area in single figures, but they just go out and win games. Aaron Rodgers has looked a shadow of the player we know, but there is one time that he has risen before and that is in the playoffs. With seventeen post season games he has placed himself fifth on the all-time post season touchdown passing list with an illustrious list of names above him.

Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson is without doubt one of the best quarterbacks in the league and if not for Lamar Jackson would have been likely to land the MVP this season. His numbers are simply fantastic across all counters. Since taking over at QB for the Seahawks he leads the NFL in completions, yards and touchdowns on throws at 20 yards plus. As well as a whole host of fantastic stats he threw 4110 yards for thirty-one touchdowns with only five interceptions this season.

Wilson will be searching for now veteran, Tyler Lockett who has caught eighty-two passes for over one thousand yards with eight touchdowns to add. However, new kid on the block D.K. Metcalf may be the biggest problem for San Francisco where the 6-foot-4, two-hundred and twenty-nine-pound beast who is lightning fast is any defence’s nightmare. He caught fifty-eight passes with seven touchdowns, but it wasn’t until last week in the wild-card game where he made seven catches for 160 yards which included a monstrous fifty-three-yard touchdown.

Aaron Rogers and Aarons Jones can play mind games on the name sheets so be careful if selecting the QB or the RB. You would say that they hold the main keys to a Packers success. Jones has rushed over one thousand yards with forty-nine catches for nearly five-hundred yards. Options down the field look no further than Devante Adams who again ends the season just short of 1000 yards receiving and is always a threat. Seattle will hope that the pass rush can deliver again after a very mediocre season with only one team statistically worse. However, in the wild-card game last week they amassed one quarter of their season’s sacks in that game alone of seven. Each member of the team played their part. If the Seahawks can stop Rogers in the pocket and Jones getting the run game going it will make it very difficult. Bobby Wagner can be the man to step up again with his big tackles, but Jadeveon Clowney is the one man who can ruin this game for Green Bay and if he escapes the frontline and gets to the Packers pocket it will give Rogers less time to think and mistakes will be made.

Seattle had the fourth best rushing attack in the league. However, this was blotted late on when star man Chris Carson who rushed for 1230 yards with seven touchdowns got injured. Back up players also fell by the wayside due to injury and left the Seahawks with no options at RB bar rookie Travis Homer. He was brilliant last game of the regular season but couldn’t get anything going last week in the wildcard round. When someone needed to lift a team who else to give the call and bring out of retirement than Marshawn Lynch. Pete Carroll has never looked so excited than to see his team spirit lifting, crowd cheering hero! Boomtown was back, and the crowd erupted on the final game of the regular season when he scored a touchdown. That was followed up with a TD in the wildcard game last week. He may have been retired for nearly two years, but he looked as good as ever two weeks ago. Last week Philadelphia done a great job of stopping the ground game but fortunately for the Seahawks the wide receivers stood up to the task. Wilson will want to get the ground game going early, and it’s worth noting that Lynch has ten rushing touchdowns in twelve playoff games, and ties second in NFL history for 6 post season games rushing for 100 yards plus.

2013 Seattle won their first and only Superbowl. At the head of affairs that day was Wilson, Lynch and head coach Carroll. Could history be repeating itself?

Verdict: Green Bay have not looked a good team but have managed to get here with a 13-3 record. Winning is all they did. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. Seattle though have stepped up in recent weeks after a horror season with injuries. Seattle just find a way to win and will certainly be up for this one. They have many more options on offence than Green Bay. The Seahawks defence could pressure Rogers and Jones as his lack-lustre performances of late on will not suffice against a playoff charged Seahawks who come off the back of a momentum shifting win. They won’t class them selves as underdogs and Wilson is the one man you want with the ball in in a challenging position. If anyone can win a game when it looks all over it is Seattle. Green Bay have been known to roll over when things get touch and they concede early. The weather could play a key role in this fixture with snow touch and go. If it does land in Lambeau, the running game will be absolutely crucial and Homer and Lynch could give the Packers defence plenty to worry about with the inclusion of a very mobile Russell Wilson which is not the case with Aaron Rogers who likes to stay in the pocket.

Seattle 9/5 – 2.5 points
Seattle +4.5 5/6 – 6 points
Seattle over 22.5 points 11/10 – 5 points

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Kansas City Chiefs -7.5 6 pts at 5/6 with starsports.bet
BACK Kansas City over 29.5 points 4 pts at 3/4 with starsports.bet
BACK Kansas/Kansas double result 3 pts at 5/6 with starsports.bet
BACK Seattle 2.5 pts at 9/5 with starsports.bet
BACK Seattle +4.5 6 pts at 5/6 with starsports.bet
BACK Seattle over 22.5 points 5 pts at 11/10 with starsports.bet


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