AFC Divisional Round: Houston Texas at Kansas City Chiefs Preview
The first of a Sunday doubleheader will take place between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, battling for a spot in next weeks’ AFC Championship. The Chiefs will play host to the Texans for this AFC Divisional Round game. Kickoff will be at 3:05 Eastern time, and the game will take place at the infamously loud Arrowhead Stadium. These two teams faced off in a shootout earlier this year, where the Deshaun Watson lead offense took that game 31-24. Will we see a repeat of the events we saw in week 6 in the AFC Divisional Round? Let me give my two cents on this!
The AFC South champs are coming off of an AFC Wild Card game vs the Buffalo Bills, where the Texans started off the game extremely slow, and I think some people counted them out after the first half with the Bills being up 13-0 and the Houston offense being unresponsive. The Texans came out with a booming start in the second half and ended up taking the game 22-19 in overtime. Carlos Hyde struggled yet again with only 48 yards in his 16 rushes, he did catch the second Texans touchdown though. Corner Bradley Roby had a strong game where he nearly had two interceptions but dropped them. He’ll need to finish those plays this week against a much tougher Kansas City football team. Deshaun Watson had yet another year of stellar football with 3852 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Carlos Hyde stole the show running the football with over 1000 yards and six scores. Along with Hopkins, both Will Fuller and Kenny Stills had solid seasons catching the football with both gaining more than 500 yards receiving and 7-touchdowns combined. Defensively, Whitney Mercilus stole the show with seven and a half sacks, nine TFLs, 15 QB hits, four forced fumbles, and two-interceptions! The Texans already won at Arrowhead this season, and they finished 5-3 on the road.
Texan to watch: JJ Watt
JJ is back! After a shortened season this year due to a pectoral injury, Watt returned to action last week against Buffalo and continued his constant force in the trenches with two QB hits and a sack. Before his injury, JJ had four sacks in eight games. If Watt can constantly get into the backfield like we’re used to him doing, and force Mahomes to get the ball out fast and make mistakes, he will be the key to a Texan victory.
For the fourth straight year, the Kansas City Chiefs are your AFC West Champions! After a 12-4 season, the Chiefs secured the first-round bye with a 31-21 win against the Los Angeles Chargers and a New England Patriots loss to the Miami Dolphins. Patrick Mahomes II had another excellent season slinging the football with 4031 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only 5-interceptions. The run game didn’t really have a true number one guy after the Chiefs moved on from Kareem Hunt, so it was a bit of a dual-headed running attack with both Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy getting significant touches and more than 400 yards each. Receiving wise, superstar tight end Travis Kelce had yet another pro bowl season with 1229 yards and 5-touchdowns. Speedy pro bowl wideout Tyreek Hill missed 4-games with a shoulder injury, but he was second on the team in yardage with 860 yards, and he brought in 7 touchdown catches. Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, and DeMarcus Robinson also had significant impacts with a combined 1660 yards and 9-touchdowns between the 3 of them. Defensively, Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu both had significant impacts, Jones with nine sacks and 20 QB hits and Mathieu with four interceptions and two sacks. The Chiefs were certainly not as good as last year, but they were still one of the best teams in the NFL regardless, and they’re seeking revenge against the Texans, who beat them at home earlier this season.
Chief to watch: Patrick Mahomes
I know this seems like an easy answer, and believe me, it is. But if Patrick Mahomes is on his game, nobody is stopping him. The 2018 MVP had a bit of a quiet game Week 17, but after the bye, he should be good to go. If Patty can be his usual self, he will be the key to a Chiefs AFC Championship berth.
It’s expected to be a chilly one in KC, and the Chiefs are used to it, unlike the Texans who play under the Texas sun. I think the Chiefs will take this one 31-13 thanks to a strong game from Mahomes and Chris Jones, who will absolutely annihilate that Texans interior O-Line. This will be a fun game to watch for sure.