AFC Divisional Playoff Preview: Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

AFC Wild Card: Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs

Time: Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET (CBS)  

Open: Chiefs -9, Over/Under 49

Current: Chiefs -9.5, Over/Under 51

Houston Texans

Offense

17th Overall per DVOA (15th Passing / 11th Rushing)

13th Most Total Yards per Game (362.0)

15th Most Passing Yards per Game (236) / 9th Most Rush Yards per Game (125.6)

14th Most Points per Game (23.6)

18th Least Giveaways (INTs & FUMs) (22)

Defense

26th Overall per DVOA (26th Against the Pass / 22nd Against the Run)

5th Most Total Yards Allowed per Game (388.3)

4th Most Passing Yards Allowed per Game (267.3) / 8th Most Rush Yards Allowed per Game (121.1)

14th Most Points Allowed per Game (24.1)

15th Most Total Takeaways (INTs & FUMs) (22)

Special Teams

5th Overall per DVOA

Kansas City Chiefs

Offense

3rd Overall per DVOA (2nd Passing / 14th Rushing)

6th Most Total Yards per Game (379.2)

5th Most Passing Yards per Game (281.1) / 23rd Most Rush Yards per Game (98.1)

5th Most Points per Game (28.2)

3rd Least Giveaways (INTs & FUMs) (15)

Defense

14th Overall per DVOA (6th Against the Pass / 29th Against the Run)

17th Least Total Yards Allowed per Game (349.6)

8th Least Passing Yards Allowed per Game (221.4) / 26th Least Rush Yards Allowed per Game (128.2)

7th Least Points Allowed per Game (19.3)

10th Most Total Takeaways (INTs & FUMs) (23)

Special Teams

2nd Overall per DVOA

Keys to the Game

  • Deshaun Watson hasn’t been as good this year as he was last year, totaling over 300 less passing yards and over 130 less rush yards this season, compiling his most interceptions in a single season (12), ultimately leading to his lowest regular season passer rating yet (98.0).  And for also 3 full quarters in the Wild Card game against Buffalo, Watson looked as ineffective as we thought he would be.  But then, with 1:33 left in the 3rd quarter, Watson became the Watson we all remembered from Clemson, and he put up 19 unanswered points rushing for a TD and 2 point conversion as well as passing for one, before sealing the deal with an amazing scramble after avoiding 3 would be tackles in the backfield to complete a 34 yard pass to Taiwan Jones and set up the game winning OT field goal.  The big question is “which Deshaun Watson will show up against the Chiefs”?

  • Will Fuller is still working his way back from a groin injury, and may be back this week, which should help “good Watson” make an appearance.  UPDATE: Will Fuller will be active in this game.
  • Regardless, the Texans still have one of the most dynamic scoring offenses in the NFL, and Watson has shown more than once how he’ll take what the defense gives him, whether it be over the air or on the ground, particularly with uber-reliable WR DeAndre Hopkins, who’s had the 3rd most receptions (104) on the 5th most targets (15) and is responsible for the 3rd most first downs by reception (68) of any player in the NFL.
  • Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson have actually been pretty solid on the ground.  Hyde actually had his first 1,000+ rush yard season of his career and Johnson has been in the top 10 of the Pro Football Focus’ elusive rating all season.  If there’s a weakness in the Chiefs defense, it’s on the ground, as they’re only 29th against the run.  Perhaps Hyde and Johnson can take advantage.
  • But let’s not forget who the Texans are facing. They’re facing last year’s MVP, Patrick Mahomes.  In some ways, because of Lamar Jackson’s emergence, many have forgotten how good Mahomes is.  Sure, he’s looked mortal today at times this year, but remember that he suffered an ankle injury early in the season even before his sideline stint from a knee displacement.  Even in a “down” year, Mahomes has the 2nd highest QBR rating, the 7th most yards per game, the 4th highest yards per pass attempt, the 6th most passing TDs in the league, even while only playing 14 games during the regular season.

  • And one of Mahomes’ primary weapons is Travis Kelce, who leads all TEs with 97 receptions on 136 targets and 76.8 yards per game.  With a fully healthy Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and standout rookie Mecole Hardman, Mahomes has plenty of outlets available to take advantage of a Texans defense that’s only 26th against the pass.
  • And Damien Williams has reclaimed the backfield after returning from a rib injury to compile 28 carries and 7 receptions for 246 total yards and 3 total TDs over the last two games.  Doesn’t bode well for a Texans defense that allows the 8th most rush yards per game in the NFL.
  • Houston’s defense has been inconsistent, at best, all season.  JJ Watt’s return definitely helped in the Wild Card game, but they still allowed 280 yards over the air and whopping 172 yards on the ground against the Bills.
  • Keep an eye on Special Teams with the Chiefs having the edge there.  In fact, they have the 2nd highest rated Special Teams unit per DVOA this season.
  • Bottom line is this should be a shootout, but I trust Mahomes to take advantage at home against both an inconsistent Texans defense and inconsistent Texans offense.

Prediction

Chiefs beat the Texans by a score of 28 to 20.

 

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