Houston Texans: Five keys to beating the Kansas City Chiefs

Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans have never made it past the Divisional Round in the playoffs. What must they do to get it done this year?  Here are five keys to doing so.

Despite beating the Kansas City Chiefs 31-24 in Week 6 of the regular season, the Houston Texans come into this weekend’s playoff matchup against the Chiefs as 10 point underdogs. While Week 6 proved that Houston has what it takes to beat the Kansas City,  the Houston Texans must step up their game if they want to knock off the red-hot Chiefs, who have won six in a row, this weekend.

Below are the five things that must happen for the Houston Texans to walk out of Arrowhead with a victory Sunday afternoon:

1. Tackle, especially in the open field

The Houston Texans tackling in their Wild Card victory over the Bills was horrific as they missed tackle after tackle and allowed the Bills to extend drives. The Houston Texans can not afford to miss tackles against an electric Chiefs offense filled with explosive players like Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Mecole Hardman who have breakaway speed and are extremely elusive.

If Houston’s defense can make tackles in the open field then they will be in good shape, but if they miss tackles and allow Kansas City’s playmakers to get out in space then the Chiefs will torch the Texans defense.

2. Will Fuller must play

When Will Fuller is on the field he elevates the Houston Texans offense to another level due to his track star speed, but Fuller has struggled with staying healthy his whole career. Fuller, who missed the Texans Wild Card game, is expected to play Sunday against the Chiefs which is something Houston desperately needs.

Fuller, one of the fastest players in the NFL, is an elite deep threat that stretches out a defense and forces them to play softer coverage to respect his speed. This also opens up the passing game for Deshaun Watson and allows him to get others involved in the passing game. Fuller being on the field is critical if the Texans are going to knock off the Chiefs Sunday.

3. Houston Texans must establish the run game early

One of the biggest reasons why the Texans knocked off the Chiefs in Week 6 is because they were able to run the ball at will, totaling 192 rush yards and three rushing touchdowns on the afternoon. Establishing the run game early is vital for Houston’s offense to be successful for two reasons.

First, it opens up the play-action game and should provide Watson with some easy throws and allow him to get in a rhythm. Second, it allows the Texans to possess the ball longer and keeps their defense from having to be on the field. In Week 6, the Texans ran 83 plays possessed the ball for 39:48 compared to the Chiefs 47 plays and 20:12 time of possession.

The Texans are not built as a team who play in games that turn into offensive shootouts like the Chiefs are. Houston’s ability to run the ball will determine how successful the offense is.

4. Houston Texans must score in the first quarter

Houston has been one of the worst first-quarter scoring teams in the NFL and has fallen behind in a majority of their games as a result of their failure to score early. In 17 games this season, the Texans have scored a total of 47 first-quarter points.

This has to change if Houston wants to have a chance at beating Kansas City as falling behind early is not an option. Watson and the Texans offense must open up the game with sustaining drives that result in points so that they do not put themselves in a big hole.

5. Pressure and contain Mahomes

When the Texans faced the Chiefs in Week 6, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes was still

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dealing with an ankle injury, but Mahomes is fully healthy heading into the Divisional Round. Mahomes has arguably the NFL’s best arm and the reigning NFL MVP will expose Houston’s secondary if they do not put constant pressure on him.

The Texans need players like J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus to step up and make Mahomes feel uncomfortable in the pocket. Not only must Houston’s defense get pressure on Mahomes, but they also must contain Mahomes and not allow him to get out in the open and use his legs.

When Mahomes breaks containment he kills a defense with his legs. The Chiefs have enough weapons offensively even when Mahomes is contained so it is of utmost importance that Houston’s defense keeps Mahomes in the pocket and does not allow him to utilize his legs.

Next. Texans have an opportunity to avenge history again. dark

The Texans have a tough task ahead of them on Sunday afternoon. If they struggle to do the things listed above then it will be a long afternoon, but if they are able to do these five things well then I like their chances to knock off the Chiefs and advance past the Divisional Round for the first time in franchise history.