The Kansas City Chiefs now know their opponent for the Divisional Round will be the Houston Texans. Amazingly, Houston overcame a 16 to nothing deficit to comeback and beat the Buffalo Bills on Wild Card weekend. JJ Watt energized his squad with a sack in the third quarter. From then on, Deshaun Watson was masterful and left the Buffalo defense searching for answers.
The Chiefs and Texans already met earlier in the regular season. Early on, Kansas City was feeling good and was in control. Many factors like turnovers, penalties and missed tackles quickly turned the tide. That loss the Chiefs had suffered at the hands of the Texans, put Kansas City in an infuriating position. Furthermore, it was one of the major bumps in the road that helped turned the Chiefs’ fortunes around later in the year.
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Times Have Changed
Plenty of things have changed for both of these teams since they met around three months ago. Many players have recovered from nagging injuries. For example, Kansas City was without some of their more important players. Chris Jones, Eric Fisher, Anthony Hitchens, Sammy Watkins and Andrew Wylie were all hurt. Additionally, Tyreek Hill returned after a month plus absence, and only played 50 percent of the snaps. Remember Patrick Mahomes bum ankle? That was reaggravated in that game, and was a reason that the Chiefs were hindered.
Also, the Chiefs have really improved and found themselves defensively. We know the Chiefense has allowed just 11.6 points per game during their six game winning streak. Meanwhile, Houston has made strides with their rebuilt offensive line. The Texans only allowed 49 sacks this season. That is still in the bottom half of the league, but it is an improvement from 62 sacks allowed last year. To boot, not all sacks are the offensive line’s fault. In the Wild Card win over the Bills, Watson was often holding on to the ball too long and did not keep his eyes up.
Most of all, these teams have found different ways to win throughout this season. There will be a lot of different ideas used by each team this Sunday. Both teams are mostly healthy and are full of confidence.
If you saw the Texans win over the Bills, you know Houston was effective in a number of ways. Offensively, you have the plethora of abilities with Watson. He can extend plays and run with his legs. Also, he is accurate both as a deep passer or short passer. You have the running back duo of the tough running Carlos Hyde, or the slipperiness of Duke Johnson. Finally, you never know when one of the NFL’s best receivers will explode in DeAndre Hopkins.
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The Chiefs and Texans are not so different. During this six game winning streak, Kansas City has rediscovered the offensive rushing attack. It’s not among the greatest of the playoff teams. However, Damien Williams is determined to fit the role the team believed he would have at the outset of the season. The Chiefs are a much more complete team, top to bottom, than they were in 2018. Mahomes does not have to be superman. They can play ball control offense, while knowing the defense can consistently make stops. So in many ways, the Chiefs and Texans can go blow for blow against each other.
The Reid Factor
The Chiefs made a miserable mistake right before halftime in the earlier matchup against the Texans. Instead of running the ball or taking a knee to keep the lead intact, Kansas City tried a play action pass. Houston’s defense was not fooled though. The pass rush got to Mahomes and forced a fumble. A quick score put the Texans up by six points with 16 seconds to go before the break.
During this hot streak, Andy Reid has not made very many questionable decisions. The trend of going conservative has been largely gone. Part of it, has been because the offense is fully healthy now. But also, Reid is realizing how strong the chances and options are for his team to be successful. There are many directions Kansas City can pull opposing defenses into. Right now, Reid continues to push the envelope more.
The mentality of these teams have fully shaped more now, than the first meeting of the year. Houston will feel a sense of belief on Sunday. They know they will be big underdogs in Vegas’s eyes. On the other hand, the Chiefs backed their way into a bye week. The stress of Wild Card weekend was not there, and there is a sense of calmness and ease at Arrowhead. Even if they did not have the bye, Kansas City felt like they could have won anywhere. They were 7-1 on the road in 2019. Both the Chiefs and Texans are full of determined players. Most of all, these players are looking to usher in a new era.
Be on the lookout for more Chiefs content throughout this week. In addition, listen to our latest episodes of the FPC Chiefs Podcast. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.
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