The first matchup of Wild Card Weekend pits two teams that were able to rest players in Week 17, with the Bills and Texans locked into their respective positions by the time their games kicked off. So Josh Allen, Deshaun Watson and a handful of other players on both sides were able to get a virtual bye heading into this game.
It's just Buffalo's second trip to the playoffs since the turn of the century, with the Bills making the postseason in 2017 but scoring just three points in their wild-card loss to the Jaguars. Houston is making its fourth trip to the postseason in its last five seasons, all by virtue of winning the AFC South. The Texans went 1-2 on Wild Card Weekend in their previous three chances to advance, losing in the next round the one time they managed a win in 2016.
Below, you'll find info on how to watch the game along with what you need to know about the opening and current lines. Then, you'll see our CBSSports.com expert picks, along with some analysis from some of our writers and SportsLine analysts.
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Bills at Texans
- Time: Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET (ESPN)
- Open: Texans -3, O/U 41.5
- Current: Texans -2.5, O/U 43
"The Bills have been one of the surprise teams this season, but they have the defense to back up being in this spot. Deshaun Watson will challenge them in a big way, but I think they will be up for it. Josh Allen will be playing his first playoff game, but the Texans defense has major issues lately – even if J.J. Watt is back. Look for Allen to play well and the Bills to move on behind the defense. Upset special." -- Pete Prisco on
"Buffalo got some key guys hurt last week in a meaningless game. J.J. Watt is coming back for Houston and I think the Bills will struggle to score. Deshaun Watson will have a decent game, Carlos Hyde will do some damage on the ground and the Texans will win." -- Vegas legend Hammerin' Hank Goldberg on why the Texans are one of his best bets; get the rest of his wild-card best bets over at SportsLine
"I think Buffalo will want to run the ball a bunch, eat up clock and turn this into a defensive grinder of a game. If there's one thing Bill O'Brien's shown us this year, is that he'll play along if someone tries to do that. If Houston does, it severely limits their effectiveness on offense and minimizes their scoring opportunities. Josh Allen should be able to take some shots against this Texans secondary. Bills win outright and advance." -- Will Brinson on
"Figuring out a way to test Buffalo down the field despite the fact that the defense goes all-out to stop it is a key factor to the Texans being able to secure a win. The issue here is that Houston's pass protection is among the worst in the league, while the Bills were among the NFL's leaders in generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. If Laremy Tunsil and company can't hold up against Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, Lorenzo Alexander, Shaq Lawson, Jordan Phillips, and Ed Oliver, it could be a long day in the pocket for Deshaun Watson." -- Jared Dubin, , in his in-depth preview
"If this game had been played last year, Josh Allen probably would have thrown four interceptions and the Bills probably would have lost 17-10, but this year, Allen has actually looked good, and I'm pretty sure he's going to be able to take advantage of Houston's defense. Speaking of defense, the Bills are actually pretty good on that side of the ball: They gave up the second fewest points in the NFL this year, the second fewest touchdown passes, they also gave up the third fewest passing yards and they were one of only three teams that held opposing quarterbacks to under an 80.0 QB rating (To put that in perspective opposing QB's had a 95.3 rating against the Texans this year)." -- John Breech on
SportsLine's top NFL expert Mike Tierney has a 58-31 mark in his last 89 NFL picks, and he's got a strong play on the Bills-Texans matchup as well. Find out which side of the spread Tierney loves only at SportsLine.
"It feels borderline insane to be taking Allen on the road against Watson at home, but I trust the Bills' defense to turn this into the kind of low-scoring game the Bills want to be in and I trust the Texans' defense to give up a few big plays to Allen. So, I'll take the Bills and the points." -- Sean Wagner-McGough on
"There seems to be a lot of people on the Bills bandwagon heading into this matchup with Houston, which is a bit surprising when you consider their momentum (or lack thereof) coming into the postseason. They're 1-3 in their previous four games, averaging just 14.3 points per game over that stretch and are well under 175 passing yards per game as well. Quarterback Josh Allen can always be a threat with his legs, but it'll be interesting to see how this offense will produce if the Texans defense can force him to be a pure passer. Defensively, I see Houston getting a big emotional boost with the return of pass rusher J.J. Watt, which should be infectious throughout the entire unit. In terms of the Texans offense, Will Fuller is an X-factor as Bill O'Brien notes he'll be a true game-time decision. If he plays (and stays healthy throughout the game), it makes Houston's offense that much more lethal. I see the passing game potentially having a tough time if Bills corner Tre'Davious White is on star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but Watson should be able to land a few strikes when need be. This game will be close, but I expect Houston to win and cover." -- Tyler Sullivan on
"The Texans have two of the NFL's most explosive playmakers in Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. They'll be rested up. They also won't have to leave home. But there's a reason they're barely favorites in Houston. The Bills defense is ravenous, and its secondary alone should keep Bill O'Brien frustrated for much of Saturday night. Josh Allen, meanwhile, should benefit from the holes in the Texans' own pass D, hitting Cole Beasley and John Brown for enough big plays to keep Buffalo out in front. Ride with Sean McDermott." -- Cody Benjamin on
"I think this one is going to be a defensive matchup, and I think Allen and the Bills are still underrated. That's why I'm picking them to beat the Texans in Houston this weekend." -- Jordan Dajani on
The SportsLine Projection Model, which simulates every NFL game 10,000 times, is up over $7,000 for $100 players on its top-rated NFL picks since its inception four-plus years ago. Its biggest edge in this game comes on the total, with one side cashing in over 60% of simulations. See the model's spread, total and moneyline plays only at SportsLine.
Finally, here are the arguments for each side of the spread:
Why to take Bills
- Bills the better team later in season (weighted DVOA)
- Weighted DVOA projects line at Bills -1.5
- Bills the more efficient team overall (yards per play differential)
- Bills win 3 of 4 DVOA matchups vs. Texans
- Home favorites of 2.5 or less are 1-9 ATS on WCW since 2000
- All favorites of 2.5 or less are 2-14 ATS on WCW since 2000
Why to take Texans
- Bills struggle vs. playoff teams, only win was over Marcus Mariota Titans
- Texans have massive strength of schedule advantage with identical record
- Injuries: J.J. Watt to return; Will Fuller injury negated by Levi Wallace injury?