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The time for talking is almost done before Sunday’s kickoff. The Kansas City Chiefs are set to travel to Houston to take on the Texans. Kansas City has a chance to move to 11-3 with a victory. At the same time, a win on Sunday allows the Chiefs to clinch the AFC West for a seventh consecutive season. As for Houston, the Texans are currently in position to have the number one overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They nearly pulled off an upset on the road against a top NFC team last week, however. As a result, the Chiefs will still be ready for the Texans to give their best shot on Sunday.
We have discussed key matchups and gameplans all week long. What are the final headlines to watch for before Sunday’s kickoff? We will list those, along with players to watch for, who could be viewed as under the radar x factors entering the game from both the Chiefs and the Texans. Let’s kick it off.
Mahomes First NFL Game In Native State
Believe it or not, Patrick Mahomes will play his first game at the NFL level in his native state of Texas this Sunday. This will be his fourth career start against Houston. All of the previous three starts took place in Kansas City, though, including an improbable playoff comeback victory at Arrowhead Stadium. His only career start against the Dallas Cowboys was also in KC last year. After playing high school football at Whitehouse and suiting up for the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Mahomes will finally get the chance for an emphatic homecoming in his home state.
Because of that homecoming, there could certainly be some added motivation for the Kansas City signal caller. You also have to factor in the motivation of bouncing back this game, after Mahomes threw three interceptions last week. He expressed how he put the Chiefs in precarious positions because of those turnovers. With the homecoming factor and the fact that he is coming off of a multiple-interception performance, the Chiefs could certainly enjoy a fast start with Mahomes possibly being more amped up for this one.
Can Chiefs Play A Cleaner Game?
Beyond Mahomes’ interceptions from last week, the Chiefs have had too many costly turnovers as a team over the last few weeks. That is just one of the glaring items that have risen in recent games. Elsewhere, Kansas City may look to limit the amount of penalties that have creeped up lately. You must also look at the lack of offensive consistency in the red zone. Largely, Kansas City was one of the most efficient teams in that area during the first half of the season. It has been hit or miss over the course of the last month, however. Can they finish drives with more touchdowns that field goals this week?
Cleaning up these items are vital for the playoff hopes of the Chiefs. You know that field goals will not cut it against other top offenses in the postseason. Therefore, red zone execution is crucial to keep this team’s confidence up. As for penalties and turnovers, fundamental improvements and discipline will be the deciding factor.
Are Texans Able To Replicate Offensive Success From Last Week?
A major reason as to why the Texans nearly upset the Cowboys last week, was because of their offensive success. That speaks volumes, given the dominance that Dallas has shown defensively throughout different portions of the season.
Interestingly, the Texans opted to use a two-quarterback system. Davis Mills took care of most of the passing duties. Yet, Jeff Driskel threw a few passes as well, while also doing damage with his legs as a ball carrier. It appears that Houston will indeed use the two-quarterback system again this week, at least by initial indications. By using that tactic, the Texans were able to keep the offense in rhythm and on schedule. It also offered a sense of versatility, keeping the opposing defense on their heels at times. Finally, Houston saw their amount of explosive plays grow, as did their consistency of getting chunk gains. Will the Texans be able to create those splash plays with depth pieces, once again?
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Chiefs DE George Karlaftis
Chiefs rookie defensive end George Karlaftis has amassed a sack in three consecutive games. Moreover, his 37 pressures this season are second among rookie pass rushers, trailing only Aidan Hutchinson (39). You can always rely on the relentless motor and instincts of Karlaftis. But now, you are starting to see his reactionary aspects grow and he is making plays in a variety of ways. Having a multitude of options to how you are going to attack opposing offensive linemen is obviously beneficial. For Karlaftis, he has started to show that more often, which is major for a young player.
Texans CB Desmond King
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With injuries in the secondary, Houston may have to rely on their depth quite often. We know that the Chiefs will be looking to sling the ball all over the yard. A Texans cornerback worth keeping in mind, is Desmond King. The veteran may not have the size or length to outmatch JuJu Smith-Schuster or even Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Though, his change of direction skills, lateral quickness and athleticism could allow him to make plays on the football. Does King have the ability to give the Texans some momentum with some pass breakups or a possible turnover?
Chiefs RB Jerick McKinnon
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It is easy to choose Jerick McKinnon, due to his stellar performance last week. He is just so important for what the Chiefs want to accomplish at this point in the season. Overall, his ability to pass protect and produce as a pass catcher unlocks many explosive plays for Kansas City to use. It also keeps opponents guessing on where the ball is going at all times, forcing them to defend every blade of grass. McKinnon’s speed, bounce, vision and spatial awareness are also a great complement to Isiah Pacheco.
Texans WR Chris Moore
Like McKinnon, last week was a monster week for Texans wide receiver Chris Moore. Both Nico Collins and Brandin Cooks were out, due to injury. That allowed Moore to take advantage of a heavy workload. He made 10 catches on 11 targets for 124 receiving yards. Not only did he make deep catches in traffic down the field, but Moore also accumulated some impressive yards in space after the catch. The injury bug will be something to monitor at wide receiver, once again. If Moore is able to get separation down the field, Kansas City must be careful.
Be on the lookout for our FPC Chiefs recap and reaction articles following Sunday’s game. 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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