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Sunday’s Divisional Round game between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs is a rematch of a Week six match-up won by Houston 31-24 in Kansas City. Now the question for everyone watching is can Deshaun Watson and company do it again?
Keys To The Game:
In their earlier contest, Houston allowed 17 first quarter points and normally when Kansas City scores at that pace they end up in the win column. But after playing at the Chief’s pace to start, Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien tried something different in the second half.
After slowing the game down and using both Watson’s legs and arm and the steady running of Carlos Hyde, the Texans used ball control to keep Kansas City off the field. Houston held a 42-16 play edge in the second half, which lead to the victory.
If Watson and the offense can control the clock, make first downs and score points on each of those drives, then they will be getting ready for the team’s first AFC Championship in franchise history.
Everyone knows about the passing attack for the Chiefs. When you have Patrick Mahomes throwing to All-Pro Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, that leads to a success on a regular basis. But the Chiefs main successes this season happen when they run the football effectively.
Kansas City is undefeated this season (7-0) when they rush for over 100 yards as a team. In their loss to the Texans in October, they ran for only 53 yards. If Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy and the rest of the Chiefs running backs can get to 100 yards as a group, then Patrick Mahomes should have a field day throwing the football down the field.
For Houston it’s running back Carlos Hyde. In a game where the Texans need to keep the explosive Chiefs’ offense off the field, the former Cleveland Browns running back has to keep the chains moving. In each loss Kansas City had this season, they allowed over 100 yards.
Hyde ran for 116 yards and a touchdown in Houston’s Week six victory. If you look deeper into the numbers, he had 66 yards rushing before contact and seven first down rushes in his 26 attempts. So if Houston wants to play next Sunday, then Hyde needs the ball and he needs to make plays in the running game.
Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill is known for making the big play at any point in time in a game. He even caught a 46 yard touchdown catch on the opening series in the teams earlier match-up. But after that play he was held to four catches for 34 yards the rest of the game.
Hill did finish the season with under 1,000 yards receiving (he missed four games as well) but his ability to go over the top will give the Houston secondary fits.
If he can’t make plays down the field, get him in areas to make plays. Bubble screens, quick slants and shorter patterns to let him use his outstanding speed to make defenders miss. When he breaks a tackle this season, he averages 14.7 yards additional to his reception.
Houston used defense and Watson to overcome Buffalo’s lead last weekend at home. The Texans now have J.J Watt back and somewhat healthy to rush the passer and it was effective last week against a mobile Josh Allen.
But this week is a bit of a different task. Allen is nowhere near the passer Mahomes is and the Bills’ receivers are nowhere close to what Kansas City will trot out on the field on Sunday.
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid knows that and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will expose it. Expect the Chiefs to have at least three plays over 30 yards in the early going and this time when the Chiefs score 17 quick points, they won’t let the lead disappear. I’m picking Kansas City at home, 34-20.