The 2016 NFL playoffs kick off with an old friend for San Francisco 49ers fans. Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs open the playoffs on the road against the Houston Texans. The game will air on ESPN, with Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden in the announcer booth.
The 11-5 Chiefs were a huge longshot to make the playoffs six weeks into the season. After a season-opening win at Houston, fittingly enough, they lost five straight games. Draft talk was on for Chiefs fans, but then a funny thing happened. They started winning some games, and by season's end had run off a 10-game win streak. I believe they are the first team to do that after a five-game losing streak in the same season.
The 9-7 Texans were stumbling along as well, sitting at 2-5 through seven weeks. They then won four in a row, lost two, then closed the season with three straight wins. Brian Hoyer has been critical to that offense, and obviously J.J. Watt is kind of a big deal on the defensive side of the ball.
The Chiefs opened as a three-point favorite, and the line has not moved much. Public money is heavily on the Chiefs, but it appears some sharp money is coming in on the Texans to balance it out. I decided to side with the public. The Texans lost left tackle Duane Brown to an injury, while the Chiefs are getting back Justin Houston. There are questions about how healthy Houston is, but having any semblance of him will be valuable to the Chiefs pass rush.
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
When: 1:35 p.m. PT
Announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden
Radio: Chiefs Radio Network | Texans Radio Network
Online Streaming: WatchESPN
Odds: Chiefs -3
Chiefs blog: Arrowhead Pride
Texans blog: Battle Red Blog