Earlier this evening, I was drinking with a few friends. Once my two-year old daughter was cut off and went home, the talk turned to the wild card playoff tilt between your Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs. One of my buddies who grew up in New Mexico rooting for the Dallas Cowboys swore he was now a diehard Texans fan. I was, as the French say, sceptique.
How could someone who once supported something so wrong now support something so pure? My friend explained it by saying that he wanted his son, who was born in Houston, to grow up rooting for the hometown team and having memories of attending games with his father where both of them were cheering for the good guys. That struck me as an admirable goal. What really sold it was that my friend, in a moment of unparalleled generosity, promised to buy a beer for anyone who correctly predicted the final score of the Texans-Chiefs wild card game in the Comments of this post. If that doesn't make you want to PUT YOUR NAME ON IT, I don't know what will.
Although I am presumably disqualified from the competition by memorializing my pick in the text of this entry as opposed to the Comments, I give you this special playoff edition of "Three and Out."
1. Look, if you read only one preview and prediction for this game, make it Matt Weston's. There is a boat load of original insight in that article, and I highly recommend you stop reading this and make your way over there. It's worth your time.
HOWEVER...if pressed, I'd say that my learned colleague is a wee bit dismissive of the possibility of Alex Smith hooking up with Jeremy Maclin deep. In fact, I predict that the two of them combine for a TD pass of 25+ yards this afternoon.
2. I'm greatly concerned about what Justin Houston and/or Tamba Hali will do to Chris Clark in Duane Brown's absence. Brian Hoyer doesn't handle pressure well, and I worry that he's going to be feeling heat in his kitchen all day.
I'm not quite sure how the Texans will be able to address the hole at left tackle. Do you keep a tight end in? Chip with Alfred Blue? Although I have supreme confidence in Bill O'Brien, George Godsey, and the rest of the staff formulating a game plan that will provide help where it's needed, I just don't know if it'll materialize in a way that prevents Hoyer from turning it over at least twice. To that point, I say Hoyer throws at least one and perhaps two interceptions with a fumble on a strip sack to boot. Oof.
3. If the Texans are going to win this game, it says here it will have to include a defensive touchdown or, at the very least, a turnover that starts Houston inside Kansas City's red zone. It will happen. Alex Smtih, as good as he is at protecting the ball, will throw one interception. Charcandrick West is also going to put the ball on the ground, courtesy of a Benardrick McKinney hit.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: After a 1-4 and then 2-5 start, the Houston Texans have rallied in admirable fashion that resulted in NRG Stadium hosting a playoff game for the first time in three years. My heart says these Texans have one more rally in them. Alas, my head says that Brian Hoyer will make more mistakes than Alex Smith will, and that those mistakes will be the difference in a game that features two stout defenses. Chiefs 24, Texans 16.
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