The Houston Texans will be taking on the Kansas City Chiefs in their divisional matchup today. Here are 10 alarming concerns about this matchup. Let’s look.
The Houston Texans have an opportunity to make history if they win their matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs today. Not only that, but they’ll also make history by hosting their first-ever AFC Championship game in Houston and that has all of us fans in a tizzy because of the results of last night’s stunner with the Tennessee Titans toppling over the Baltimore Ravens 28-12.
What’s in store for a kickoff that’s scheduled for 2:05 p.m. CST?
I sat down and reunited with Cullen Jekel of KC Kingdom, our sister site that covers Kansas City Sports, as he answered questions about 10 concerns I have about this matchup.
It’s always a pleasure to talk with him and his insight is helpful in determining what type of game plan the Houston Texans will be putting together for today.
1. BP: Patrick Mahomes, of course, won the MVP Award last season but has been overshadowed by the outstanding play of Lamar Jackson in 2019, how would you compare Mahomes’ play this season to the last?
CJ: While his numbers are certainly down, he’s played just as well, if not better, than he did last season. The team around him is much more balanced, so he wasn’t forced to pass for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns for the Chiefs to again reach 12-4 and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Thankfully, the defense is much improved, even over at the start of the season, so Mahomes doesn’t have to be responsible for winning every game. Still, if the occasion calls for it, he can step and make a big play, which he’s done this season. He just hasn’t had to do it nearly as much as in 2018.
2. BP: If I’m trying to get to Mahomes to take him down, where is the weakest link on the offensive line so I could be successful?
CJ: Right now, the line’s about as strong as it’s been all season. A month-and-a-half ago, that wasn’t the case, as the line was decimated by injuries. Left tackle Eric Fisher missed a bunch of time, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz went down for a millisecond, and the starting guards both missed some time. This isn’t trying to bypass your question by any means, but this is the healthiest this line has been all season, so there’s really no weak link from Fisher to Schwartz.
3. BP: If I’m Deshaun Watson, who am I picking on the most to try to get big chunks of yardage to keep those chains moving? Would you consider Breeland, Ward and Claiborne to be much of a threat?
CJ: Charvarius Ward has turned into a legitimate shutdown corner, so if I’m Watson, I don’t pick on him. Morris Claiborne has not provided much to the Chiefs when he’s been on the field, but he hasn’t been since Week 13, and he’s questionable for Sunday with a shoulder injury. I wouldn’t bet on him playing. Of the three, then, go after Bashaud Breeland.
4. BP: I know you weren’t high on Kendall Fuller in our previous interview but has anything changed with the high stakes of this football game?
CJ: I had high hopes for Fuller when he came over from Washington in the Alex Smith trade. He still hasn’t lived up to them, but that’s okay. He’s carved out a different role on this defense while Ward’s become the team’s top corner.
5. BP: Frank Clark was a key acquisition this offseason so how much of factor do you think he will be in this game? He wasn’t living up to your expectations earlier this season so has there been progression?
CJ: Clark should be a factor. He’s been tearing it up the second half of the season, and I expect that to continue on Sunday. And you’re right, he didn’t live up to my expectations. The team gave up a lot to acquire him and then signed him to big bucks, and he faltered at the start of the season. Thankfully, as he got more comfortable in the scheme, his play has greatly improved.
CJ: Recently, in the last years under former defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, the defense has flat-out stunk. This year, especially in the second half of the season, the defense has greatly improved and is one of the best cohesive defensive units I remember witnessing the Chiefs field. Sure, Ford, Houston, and Eric Berry, among others, departed, but replacements like safety Tyrann Mathieu, the aforementioned Frank Clark, defensive end Alex Okafor, and linebacker Damien Wilson put a jolt into the unit. Plus, guys like Chris Jones and Ward kept on improving.
7. BP: I’m a big fan of Tyrann Mathieu and he will be an important piece for your team Sunday, how pleased have you been with his play this season for the Chiefs?
CJ: Simply put, he’s been the best free-agent acquisition by any sports team in Kansas City. He’s a leader, he’s awesome in the community, and he’s a ballhawk. So glad Kansas City opened up the pocketbook to snag him.
8. BP: If the Chiefs were to succumb to the Houston Texans, what changes would you likely see on the coaching staff?
CJ: Minor ones, if that. Don’t expect Andy Reid to go anywhere or any of his main coordinators or
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CJ: I’ll go with rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman, especially with tight end Travis Kelce now listed as questionable to play. Someone else needs to step it up in the receiving game outside of Kelce and Tyreek Hill, and I’ve the most confidence in Hardman over guys like Demarcus Robinson and Sammy Watkins.
10. BP: What’s your final score prediction?
CJ: I know the line’s got the Chiefs by 10, or something like that, but I expect a much closer game. I’ve got the Chiefs winning, 29-23.
And those are my 10 concerns, what concerns do you have about this matchup? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.