After a week off, we finally get to see the Kansas City Chiefs play again. The Chiefs will host the Houston Texans on Sunday, January 12th. There are many exciting matchups within the game that we have mentioned throughout the week. How about the matchups between the coaches? Many believe Texans head coach Bill O’Brien is often in way over his head. With that said, let’s get things going with our Chiefs versus Texans Divisional Round game preview.
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Who can win more in the trenches could go a long way in determining the outcome on Sunday. The Chiefs have to feel confident in their pass rush going up against the Texans offensive line. Houston has made some improvements in that area. However, there are still some disappointments for the Texans. In the Wild Card round, Houston was tied for the most sacks allowed last week (7). Furthermore, they allowed more quarterback hits than any Wild Card team last week (12).
Given how creative Steve Spagnuolo is with providing pressure, you have to think he wants to dial it up often. The quickness and attention to detail that Kansas City has when rushing the passer can get confusing for offensive lines. Most of all, the Chiefs blitz with anyone. It could come from the interior, the edge or with linebackers and defensive backs. All eleven players are important in the unit generating pressure. Chris Jones and Frank Clark should feel confident when the Chiefs host the Texans.
Legion of Zoom
Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes will have a plethora of options for which to exploit the Houston defense. In the passing game, Kansas City can beat you with speed on deep routes or safe subtleties on short routs. The trio of Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson can push the field. Meanwhile, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce are deadly in the short to intermediate areas. Once those two make the catch, it can get dicey for defenders trying to bring them down.
Last year in the playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts, Mahomes regained a rapport with Watkins pretty easily. He was able to generate 176 receiving yards on 10 catches. If Houston runs heavy zone coverage, then the Chiefs should feel ecstatic. Those who can go unnoticed will be awoken on Sunday, with supplemental production.
Run Or Hyde
Carlos Hyde picked the Kansas City run defense apart in the earlier matchup this season. Without Juan Thornhill, Spagnuolo will have to choose wisely when he wants to run a two high safety look. The RPO offensive style of the Texans gives some of the better defenses fits.
If the Chiefs can hold the Texans to long down and distance situations, Houston’s options with play calling will be limited. Houston is not as comfortable in these moments, compared to other teams around the NFL. Kansas City’s front seven are capable to be consistently good tacklers. But overall, they would rather not have to continue to try and stop the run. If the Chiefs can get off to a hot start against the Texans, that will help the KC defense in this regard.
Determined And Ready
We have talked this week about how Damien Williams is finally performing how the team and coaches thought he likely would at the start of the year. Since returning from injury, he has accumulated around 250 yards and three touchdowns in the final two regular season games. More impressively, Williams has gained 7.03 yards per touch in his return to the lineup. His toughness and ability to gained extra yards after contact is what really stands out.
It feels like he will get the majority of the snaps at running back. But, don’t discredit the other backs. Darwin Thompson and LeSean McCoy are full of pride and are capable of being counted on. The Texans have a stingy front seven, with underrated speed. They have more than a few guys who can fly under the radar. Kansas City must be careful not to take those players for granted. As long as the Chiefs rarely have negative plays, the run game can be a positive against the Texans.
Favoring To Strengths
Between the coaches, Reid and O’Brien, they must stay aggressive. But at the same time, it is crucial to letting your players be themselves. What should be the number one priority for each coach? For O’Brien, it is likely letting the offense run through Deshaun Watson. Allow him to take his shots with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller (if active). Additionally, Watson’s legs are dangerous for defenses.
Elsewhere, Reid has to let Mahomes spread the ball. Make sure to utilize all your weapons, and try to wear down the Texans secondary. The Chiefs have the comfort of playing at home. Reid should not be afraid to take chances and put up a ton of points on the scoreboard. Thus, the crowd will be able to rattle the Houston offense.
In 2019, the Chiefs finished with a top five scoring offense and top ten scoring defense for just the second time in 50 years.
As head coach of the Chiefs, Andy Reid is 7-3 off a bye, including the playoffs.
The Chiefs have never made back to back AFC Championship games. Meanwhile, the Texans have never made a conference championship game. History will be made either way on Sunday.
That will conclude our game preview for the Divisional Round game between the Chiefs and Texans. It should be an entertaining game to watch this weekend. 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.