This Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Houston to take on the Texans. The Chiefs are looking to get on track after a miserable preseason where they scored just 32 points. The Texans finished the preseason 2-2 and scored a league high 104 points.
The Texans, who finished 6-10 last season, are an ascending team. Second year coach Gary Kubiak replaced David Carr by trading for quarterback Matt Schaub from Atlanta and signed free agent Ahman Green to stabilize the run game. Green may be 30, but he didnít show any sign of slowing down in the preseason. The Texans want to be more aggressive on offense and with 104 points in the preseason theyíre making good with that promise.
The Chiefs finished the preseason without an identity. After week three of the preseason Herman Edwards challenged the team to figure it out. So what will take the field? Honestly, I donít know. While the Texans committed to more offense the Chiefs have devoted themselves to defense. With the addition of linebackers Donnie Edwards and Napoleon Harris the Chiefs want their linebacker crew to be among the best. Edwards thought process is this: win the game of field position, play tough defense, control the ball and make the most of scoring opportunities.
Houston Texans Passing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)Ö
Matt Schaub, while promising, has made just two NFL starts backing up Michael Vick in Atlanta. Despite his limited exposure Kubiak believes heís found his quarterback. Schaub (12/16 for 109 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. Dallas during preseason week three) hasnít done anything to cause Kubiak to doubt it. The Texans finally have someone else besides Andre Johnson (103 receptions last season) and thatís Jacoby Jones. Jones established himself as a viable number two with a strong showing in the preseason. Thereís also Kevin Walters and tight end Owen Daniels who the team has high hopes for. Quietly, the Texans have put together a solid group of receivers for Schaub.
The Chiefs gave up 282 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception to the Saints in preseason week three. Up to that point the ďDĒ hadnít been plundered, but the Saints did whatever they wanted. Drew Brees for the Saints only had two incompletions all game long. Last year, the Chiefs were 18th in the NFL averaging 208.4 yards allowed with 18 pass TDs given up. The defense notched 32 sacks (23rd in the NFL) - the Texans were 9th worst in the NFL with 43 sacks given up.
Schaub has home field advantage, but the Achilles heel for the Texans has always been the offensive line. The Chiefs will need to get after Schaub.
Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense at Houston Texans Passing Defense (Good Matchup)Ö
Brodie Croyle was given every chance to win the gig, but it didnít happen. I wonít put it all on Croyle, because he canít protect and he canít catch the ball. BUT! He did make costly mistakes. For now itís the Damon Huard show. The sad thing is Huard didnít wow anyone either, but itís his job to lose. Eddie Kennison and Tony Gonzalez are still the top receiving targets entering the season. Yes, Samie ďStone HandsĒ Parker is still on the team. AMAZING! Iím hoping Dwayne Bowe makes a quick impact, because itís beyond me why Parker is still with the Chiefs. Last season Huard passed for 1878 yards, 11 TDs and only one interception in relief of the injured Trent Green.
The Texans may have scored 104 points in the preseason, but they gave up 87. Last season the Texans allowed an average of 215.3 passing yards and 22 passing scores over 16 games. They didnít put much pressure on quarterbacks with only 28 sacks (27th in the NFL). The Texans made a move to shore up a soft unit by trading for safety Michael Boulware. While the Texans have Dunta Robinson whoís an excellent corner, it looks like a good matchup for Huard and crew.
Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)Ö
Ahman Green is part of the offensive change the Texans pursued in the off-season. Green rejoins Mike Sherman (OC in Houston), giving him an instant relationship with the offensive coaching staff. During week three of the preseason Green had his way with the Dallas Cowboys rushing for 65 yards on eight attempts. Barring injury Green looks ready to roll.
The Chiefs ranked 18th against the run last season (120.5 rushing yards allowed per game) and gave up 14 rushing scores. I keep pointing to the Saints in preseason week three, but the Chiefs were raped for 197 yards and two scores on the ground. It wasnít the Chiefs best defensive effort, but theyíre prone to get ripped. The Chiefs have more talent on the defensive line this season, but with Jared Allen on a two game suspension theyíll need to watch out as the Texans will want to establish the run for Schaub.
Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)Ö
Larry Johnson has fresh legs, but the concern of fantasy owners everywhere is how ďlittleĒ Edwards will play him. Johnson kept in shape during his contract negotiations, which will help, but hopefully left tackle Damion McIntosh is on the same page with the rest of the offensive line. A lot depends on Huard as well. He didnít get much playing time during the preseason, so heíll be rusty, and when Huard throws the ball the receivers need to catch the ball. Hear me Samie?
The Texans were weak against the run last year, allowing an average of 122.3 rushing yards per game (20th in the NFL) and gave up 16 rushing TDs. The Texans were stiff against the run in preseason giving up just 57 yards to the Cowboys in week three of the preseason.
Johnson is a stud back, but just because the Texans were bad last year doesnít mean they wonít be improved this year. Also, Johnson needs help for this to be a good matchup for the Chiefs.
So there you have it. I believe the Chiefs will pull it out, but the Texans at home with a hostile crowd behind them wonít be easy. The Chiefs will need to pull it together find their identity and take advantage with a strong effort from their defense. I have faith in the defense and think they can cause problems for Schaub and company.