The NFL play-offs begin with wildcard Saturday and Paul Higham is looking at the road teams to have a successful evening in Houston and Dallas.
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Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans (2135 GMT)
It’s a tasty first-ever AFC South play-off clash to kick us off this year and a battle of two evenly matched teams and two supremely talented quarterbacks in Houston’s Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck of the Colts.
For as good as the two defences are, Watson threw for 642 yards in their two meetings while Luck tallied 863 and six TDs as the away team won both fixtures with the combined score 58-58 highlighting how little there is to pick from these.
They’re both in great form with the Texans 8-2 and Colts 9-1 over the last ten games but there are a couple of areas that could make the difference – firstly keeping their star QB upright as the Colts surrendered just 18 sacks all season while the Texans allowed 62 on Watson, that’s tied for the most ever by a play-off QB.
Another x-factor is TY Hilton who has had his way with the Texans with 157 yards per game over their two meetings this season and seven TDs in seven games in Houston. He injured his ankle last week though and his fitness could be the key to the outcome.
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts win at 21/20
Touchdowns: DeAndre Hopkins & Eric Ebron at 9/2
Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys (0115 GMT)
Dallas have one of the best runners in Ezekiel Elliott but Seattle have THE best running game in the league this year, have already beaten Dallas this season and have won at least one play-off game in all six visits under Peter Carroll.
In three recent losses Dallas have mustered just one touchdown with QB Dak Prescott enduring his worst games statistically than against any other opponent, while a road play-off game is exactly where opposite number Russell Wilson excels.
With one TD pass and four interceptions in two games against Seattle, and six sacks in their last meeting, Prescott will be under immense pressure all night even with Elliott carrying the majority of the workload, he has to find an answer he’s so far been unable to against the Hawks if Dallas are to progress.
It’s so tough to win a road game in the play-offs but Seattle seem well-suited to this particular task and Wilson has proved time and again he can be the difference maker when it comes to the clutch and this promises to be another close call.
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks to win at 11/10
Touchdowns: Chris Carson & Doug Baldwin at 4/1