An upset of New England and Texans previous follies pave way for Jackson and Mahomes

Ravens, Chiefs await winners of Wildcard Weekend

Getty Images

The AFC playoff picture is set.

Dolphins do it big

DeVante Parker worked potential Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore and the ageless wonder Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 320 including the above score that would decide the game. The Dolphins looked anything but a tanking team on their way to hanging with the Patriots and handing the Pats a loss that put them in danger of missing a bye for the first time since 2009.

The Patriots have never won the Super Bowl without having a bye. They have never made it to the Super Bowl in the Brady era without the bye. New England will host

Chiefs take bye from Pats, send Rivers home sad

Philip Rivers maybe finished his career with the Chargers with an interception as the Chiefs were too much for the Chargers in the season finale. A win and Patriots loss would get the Chiefs a bye for the second time with Patrick Mahomes as their starter. Mahomes and company did their part while getting help from the Dolphins.

The Chiefs will finish as the two seed with Baltimore the one seed. The Chiefs were the first team to hand the Ravens a loss this year, but that was in Kansas City. If the Chiefs get another shot at the Ravens it will be in Baltimore this time.

This is as tough a 1-2 punch at the top of the AFC that we have seen in a long time. The Chiefs have it going on both sides of the ball while the Ravens will get two weeks of rest after taking it easy in the final week of the regular season.

Texans early season stumbles doom bye chances

The Texans started A.J. McCarron in a game that ultimately meant nothing for them. The Titans would win and secure the final AFC playoff spot.

It should have meant more for the Texans.

Houston has to be kicking themselves for two really hard to understand losses on their schedule. Early in the year they laid an egg against Kyle Allen and the Panthers and later in the year Denver came to town and Drew Lock lit the Texans up. They were two really bad losses and ultimately cost the Texans at a meaningful game in week 17 that could have had the Texans in a position for a bye.

Bill O'Brien has won four division crowns but he has never played week 17 controlling his own destiny for a bye. That puts much more pressure on the matchup with the Bills next weekend.

Texans hosting Bills

Josh Allen feels like a bad matchup for the Texans defense. He likes to toss bombs and the Texans have been known to blow a coverage or two. He also has a dangerous slot weapon in Cole Beasley and a tight end he trusts to make plays in Dawson Knox. Devin Singletary and Frank Gore provide a very solid rushing attack with Singletary shouldering the load more lately.

The Bills defense is fantastic this season. Led by Tre'Davious White in the secondary and an underrated safety duo the Bills are a nightmare for passing games. They are one of three teams to allow less than 200 passing yards per game this season. A few weeks ago the Ravens struggled to move the ball and settled for 24 points in their win over Buffalo.

The Texans will be mocked heading into this game and most will expect them to lose the game. Under Bill O'Brien they have lost every game in the playoffs when facing the team's regular starting quarterback. Last year, the Colts embarrassed the Texans. J.J. Watt should make his return to the field in this game. With a week of rest under their belts for their key players, the Texans have to show up better than their previous playoff trips under O'Brien.

It isn't crazy to think the Texans might have too much on offense for the Bills but Buffalo can slow down Watson and company and a defensive score would really set the Bills up for an upset victory.

Patriots hosting Titans

The Patriots have to contend with the toughest possible sixth seeded team. The Titans have been red hot with Ryan Tannehill under center and boast a formidable passing attack as well as a solid rushing attack. Tom Brady won't be able to keep up with the Titans if they are scoring at will.

The Patriots defense is the much better unit but the Titans have had plenty of successful bend-don't-break games including a win vs Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes. That was at home though, this will be in New England. Tannehill was frustrated earlier in December by a beaten up Texans defense, it would stand to reason the Patriots have enough to slow down the Tennessee offense. However, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins put on the Patriots in a must-win for the bye scenario. Perhaps there are more cracks in than formidable defense than recently imagined.

It would be a real surprise if the Tannehill revival tour went to New England and got a win.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston needs a win to advance

ALWC Game 2 Preview: Astros vs. Twins

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

It took all nine innings, but the Astros rallied late and took Game 1 by a score of 4-1 and are in the driver's seat in this best-of-three series. They'll return to Target Field, home of the Twins, on Wednesday afternoon to try and get the win and advance to the ALDS. Here's what you need to know about Game 2:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday, 12:08 PM Central

Where: Target Field - Minneapolis, Minnesota


Streaming: ESPN App

Pitching Matchup: Jose Urquidy+ vs. José Berríos.

Series: HOU leads 1-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central) Location Pitching Matchup
Game 1 Astros 4, Twins 1 Target Field, Minneapolis Greinke vs. Maeda
Game 2 Wed 9/30, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis Urquidy+ vs. Berríos
Game 3* Thu 10/1, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis McCullers Jr.+ vs. Pineda+

* If necessary.
+ Projected starters.

Game Storylines

Houston's offense has to get going earlier

The Twins' error in the ninth inning in Game 1 was a gift for the Astros that they were able to take advantage of and score the winning runs. It's unlikely to be handed another chance like that in the postseason, so in Game 2, it's paramount that Houston creates their own opportunities at the plate.

The good news is, every batter in the lineup was able to reach base in the first game, either by hit or walk. However, they would go 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine on base during the game. Because they can't expect to have two pitchers to combine for a one-run game on Wednesday, they will have to carry over the momentum from the end of Game 1 into Game 2 to build a lead their bullpen can carry.

Trust your arms to navigate through

Whether it's Jose Urquidy, who is the likely candidate, or anyone else who ends up starting Wednesday's game, the Astros have to be prepared to have a longer stretch of innings filled by their bullpen. Despite his struggles to end the regular season, Greinke did well only to allow one run to the Twins over his four innings in Game 1.

You should expect a similar outcome in Game 2, where hopefully your starter can hold the Twins at bay for as long as they can before needing to make the change to relievers. It will be interesting to see how Dusty Baker plays that situation, mostly dependent on the score at the time, as he could have someone like Cristian Javier come in for multiple innings. The only thing the Astros shouldn't do is fire too many of their bullets and put their chances in a potential Game 3 at risk.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome