If you love defense, there’s an excellent chance you’re going to LOVE this AFC Wildcard battle between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. The visiting Chiefs rank 7th in overall defense and the Texans are even better at 3rd.There’s no secret that both teams are built around their defenses and their offenses are playing a supporting role at best. Especially, the Texans who rank no better than 15th in the NFL in any one team offensive category. Ouch! The Chiefs are no offensive juggernaut either with their rankings of 27th and 30th in total yards per game and passing yards per game, respectively.
So, with so much defense on the field and stars like the Chiefs stud linebacker Justin Houston, rookie ball-hawking corner Marcus Peters (8 Int’s), and NFL sacks leader (17.5) and Texans’ defensive lineman JJ Watt, and it makes sense to think the team that makes the most plays offensively will win the game. Despite the Texans having the most dynamic player on offense in the game in DeAndre Hopkins (111 rec, 1521 yds 11 TD’s), the Chiefs look like the team that has more ability to make plays and sustain drives. Alex Smith’s stat line (307-470, 3486 yds 20 TD 7 INT’s) won’t wow you at all. But, he takes care of the football as well as anyone and does have options down field in tight end Travis Kelce, and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (87 rec, 1088 yds 8 TD’s). He also can make plays with his feet, as he rushed for over 400 yards this season. Texans’ QB Brian Hoyer did just as well taking care of the ball, with only seven interceptions. However, his 2,606 yards passing are a far cry from Smith, and it’s been difficult for the Texans to find a consistent complementary player to Hopkins.
Both teams had to adjust from losing their star running backs for the season. The Texans lost Arian Foster early on and the Chiefs lost Jamaal Charles. While, Alfred Blue (698 rush yds, 2 TD’s) has done a nice job in filling in for Foster, the edge in the running game has to go to Kansas City. The Chiefs ranked 6th in the NFL in rushing behind the unlikely emergence of Charcandrick West (634 rush yds 4 TD’s) and Spencer Ware. Smith, as already mentioned, is also very proficient running from his QB position. His ability to keep plays alive and moving the chains with his feet will be vital against Watt and the Texans D.
Both teams have been very been opportunistic on defense. So, turnovers and field position will also be vitally important. The Chiefs are looking for their 11th consecutive victory after going 1-5 to start the season. But, that won’t make much of a difference when these two square off later today. The Texans are at home where they’ve been dominant for most of the season. However, teams that run the ball tend to do better in the playoffs. If the Chiefs run the ball like one of the NFL’s best as they have all season, they win. But, don’t be surprised if q turnover or special teams play turns around what looks to be a very close game. This one is almost too close to call, but……. CHIEFS 19 Texans 16.