The 2020 NFL playoffs start Saturday afternoon when the Houston Texans host the Buffalo Bills. Houston went 10-6 to win the AFC South in the 2019 regular season. Buffalo finished with the same record to earn the conference’s No.5 seed and the first wild-card berth.

There isn’t thought to be much separation between the two teams. The Texans are favored by 2.5 points at home, according to OddsShark. The total is 42.5.

Houston will host a game on Wild-Card Weekend for the fourth time in five years. The Texans were defeated by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of last year’s playoffs. The team is 1-2 in the wild-card round under head coach Bill O’Brien.

Sean McDermott ended the Bills’ 18-year playoff drought as a rookie head coach when he led Buffalo to the postseason two years ago. The Bills last won a playoff game in the 1995 season.

Buffalo was the more consistent team during the regular season. Before losing in Week 17 when they rested their starters, the Bills were only beaten by one team that didn’t reach the playoffs. Buffalo also lost by more than one score just once.

Houston lost three games to teams that missed the postseason. Before Week 1, the Texans’ last two losses came by a combined 48 points.

There are times when Houston looks like a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Texans defeated both the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. Houston would’ve beaten the New Orleans Saints on the road had it not been for Will Lutz’s 58-yard field goal as time expired.

The Texans have a higher ceiling than the Bills, and Deshaun Watson is the main reason.

Watson was a top-five quarterback in the 2019 season, carrying the Texans to a division title without a ton of help. The quarterback was sacked 44 times and still managed to total 33 touchdowns and rank among the league’s most accurate passers.

Josh Allen was the NFL’s least accurate quarterback, completing just 58.8% of his passes. He led the No.24 offense in the league, winning 10 games with the assistance of an elite defense.

Houston’s defense is far from elite. The Texans finished the season ranked No.28 in total defense. Only the Cincinnati Bengals, who had the NFL’s worst record, allowed more yards per play than Houston.

J.J. Watt is slated to return and play his first game since tearing his pec on Oct. 27. He had four sacks before being placed on injured reserve.

The edge that the Texans have at the game’s most important position might not be as apparent because of the defenses the two quarterbacks will be facing.

Allen excelled against the softest part of the Bills’ schedule, posting a triple-digit passer rating with no interceptions in all four matchups with New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins. Houston isn’t much better against the pass than those teams, ranking 25th in opponents’ passer rating.

The Texans shut down Gardner Minshew and Kyle Allen. The other quarterbacks on Houston’s schedule led their teams to 27.2 points per game when facing the Texans.

Josh Allen had 21 total touchdowns and four turnovers after Week 5. He’s led six game-winning drives in the fourth quarter.

Josh Allen Buffalo Bills
Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills throws a pass in the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans at New Era Field on October 7, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

As good as Watson is, he’s unlikely to have a big afternoon against Buffalo. The Bills finished fourth or better in total defense, scoring defense, opponents’ yards per play, passing yards allowed and opponents’ passer rating.

Buffalo gave up more than 24 points once all season long. In consecutive games against the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens—they rank first and second, respectively, in total offense—the Bills surrendered 39 total points.

Watson did have one of his best games when the Texans beat the Patriots and their No.1 ranked defense. Dating back to his time at Clemson, Watson often comes up big in the most important games.

That didn’t stop Houston from losing in last year’s wild-card round at home to a team that had a better defense and a better head coach. The Texans find themselves in a similar situation on Wild-Card Weekend 2020, and it could result in another early playoff exit.

Prediction: Buffalo over Houston, 24-17