After a big opening week win over the Chicago Bears last Sunday, the Houston Texans are poised to take on the Kansas City Chiefs for the third time in just over a year. Actually, they were nightmares. Inescapable nightmares. Visions of Travis Kelce running free and Brian Hoyer spraying [KITTEN] all over the field... um, okay, I’ll stop. It’s a whole new Texans team (on offense), so here’s to hoping! Here’s how the BRB staff sees this week’s contest going down...
Tim: Texans 24, Chiefs 21.
I'm hesitant to pick the Texans to win this week. The Chiefs have become to Bill O'Brien's Texans what the Patriots were to Gary Kubiak's Texans--a boogeyman of sorts. While the Texans' offense was transformed over the course of the offseason, the defense remained largely static, so I'm unsure why I should rationally believe the Texans' defense will be able to figure out a way to stop Travis Kelce & Co. With Brian Cushing out, the concern about how to contain Kelce looms even larger. Additionally, while it was sort of lost in the excitement of the victory over the Bears, I didn't think the Texans' cornerbacks--especially Kareem Jackson--played all that well last week. The Texans' pass rush and the rough start the Chiefs had last week aside, I expect Alex Smith to be able to move the ball.
Yet the news that the Chiefs could well be without their two starting guards strikes me as a game-changer. The absence of Justin Houston is a big deal as well, particularly with the Texans' offensive line vulnerable again. I'm also confident that Brock Osweiler, while he will make mistakes (I'd bet on at least one and maybe two interceptions on Sunday), will be exponentially more productive than Brian Hoyer was in his two unabashed disasters last year against the Chiefs. Factor in a special teams coverage unit that won't let Knile Davis open the game with a 100+ yard kick return, Lamar Miller getting the carries instead of Alfred Blue, and I've managed to talk myself into the good guys emerging with a narrow victory.
It's Week Two. I choose optimism.
Chris: Chiefs 23, Texans 20.
Andy Reid loves the screen game and working the ball to the RBs in the pass game, regardless of whether there's a big matchup advantage or not. I think were this game later in the year, I would go with the Texans because I think they're going to be significantly better later in the season (assuming health). I just think despite their struggles last week, the Chiefs are better than that. The Texans really had a fairly easy draw in Week One and should have put it on the Bears more than they did.
BFD: Chiefs 31, Texans 13.
On two occasions in 2015, Andy Reid gave Bill O'Brien a wedgie, scaled up the flag pole on the playground carrying BOB by his underwear, and placed BOB atop the pole, dangling by his tighty whities for everybody at the school to see. Well, it was actually worse that that, now that I think about it.
Not only were we immensely outcoached last year, but we were also outplayed. There are three big reasons for this.
1. Brian Hoyer
2. Terrible match-ups
3. Brian Hoyer
The good news is that reasons #1 and #3 are gone. However, the Chiefs are still a terrible match-up for your Houston Texans. In addition, there's little reason to believe the areas where the Chiefs slammed us last year - quick passing game and Travis Kelce on offense, for example - will suddenly stop being successful. On Sunday, the New England Patriots showed just how effective a quick passing game can be, and they were without two of the best players in the NFL.
Finally, until BOB can show he can coach at Andy Reid's level, I'm going with Reid.
Luke: Chiefs 27, Texans 20.
Last week was great and all, but it's not enough to sell me on the idea that this Texans team is good enough to beat the Chiefs just yet.
This is the exact same defense that the Chiefs beat twice. Nothing has changed in this scenario, bar the exclusion of Jamaal Charles and Kansas City's loss of Jeff Allen. Whatever it is that the Chiefs do the week before the game in Houston, they do it well. Come game time, they are a step ahead of the Texans' defense in every phase. My biggest fear for this Sunday is the highlighting of weakness that we've seen time and time again, which is that this defense struggles to cover good receiving TEs to the point where it just doesn't seem to have a counter to them.
Weston (Rangers Fan): Chiefs 31, Texans 20.
There are some things I will never expect to happen until they actually happen. This is one of them. Beating a bad Bears team didn't mean much, and the Chiefs are a legitimate Super Bowl contender this year. Last season, Kansas City's offense was great at getting their skill players in space to break tackles and run all over a slower Texans defense.
The Texans have the same defense. The Chiefs have the same offense. I expect the same result. If Houston wins, it is going to need to be because of their offense, and we haven't seen a good performance against a great defense from them yet.
Capt. Ron: Texans 31, Chiefs 28.
It's hard to win in the NFL. Look at how close the final scores are from last week across the league. Consider the phrase "any given Sunday." There are no "sure things," even when Cleveland or Washington are in the mix.
What most often determines the winner in an NFL game is which team benefited most from turnovers, mismatches, QB performance, defensive stops, and clock management. Last season, the Chiefs (twice) tilted the Texans in dominant form with mismatches that rendered Houston's defense into a throng of bumbling Keystone Cops that had no answer for a vast array of creative screens. KC also benefited greatly from abysmal QB play by Houston that most often resulted in three and out or a turnover, exhausting the defense to the point where the games got out of hand by the second half.
The Texans have revamped the offense for 2016, loading it with weapons and a new signal-caller. There's reason to be optimistic that this offense will be able to sustain drives, put up points, and control the clock. There's also big-play potential to flat out boat-race other teams. While that brings hope and was well worth the investments made to fix a previously inept offense, it also means that there wasn't an improvement on defense to address coverage of elite tight ends or mobile quarterbacks. Brian Cushing being inactive due to injury may be just what KC needed to get the edge this week. While the remaining Houston linebacking group looks great in most assignments, they still struggle in coverage.
To win, the Texans will need to mitigate Travis Kelce, corral Alex Smith, bust screens, and win the turnover battle to have a shot at winning this game. That's a lot to ask for so many young players going into their second week of the regular season. They can't afford to make any mistakes.
Mike Bullock: Texans 30, Chiefs 27.
Sure, the Texans lost to the Kansas City Chiefs not once but twice last year. However, a lot of the blame for those losses falls at the feet of Houston's anemic 2015 offense, in large part due to the terrible decision-making of ex-QB Bryan Hoyer and his utter lack of ball security. While the Texans started last year's opening game with a turnover and created a hole the team never seemed able to dig out of, this year's Texans' home opener showed some things that last year's team didn't quite have: focus, strong leadership, and a will to win.
When the 2016 Texans commit early mistakes, they'll rally and fight back. When one player commits a blunder, his teammates will yank him up by his Yeezys and drag him back into the battle.
Kansas City is a wounded lion right now with a host of key injuries. They're coming off a less than convincing victory over a San Diego team that's most likely going to have sole possession of the AFC West basement when all is said in done. While the Bears are more pretender than contender right now, they're better than the Chargers at nearly every position except tight end and head coach.
This week, KC goes up against the older Watt, not his little brother. This is the Watt with a chip on his shoulder and a gang of his closest Pro Bowl caliber friends who are out to prove something. This one's about more than wins and losses. It's about pride and proving things are different now. It's about showing the world Houston belongs in the conversation about the game on February 5th, 2017.
BattleRedCoat: Texans 23, Chiefs 20.
The Chiefs didn't look great last week. Before Keenan Allen's season-ending injury, the Chargers' offense was having a great day. I see no reason why the Texans' offense can't do the same. We're better at running back and wide receiver than the Chargers, although Philip Rivers is a pretty darn good quarterback.
Brock looked okay last week, getting better as the game went on; hopefully that upward trend can continue. Provided we don't get off to another slow start, we should be fine. The Chiefs lacked pass rush last week with just a singular sack, and with Justin Houston not lining up against us this time, I think the pass protection should hold up pretty well.
The Chiefs are also without Jamaal Charles. Whilst Spencer Ware played superbly last week, I'd like to think we're significantly better at stopping the run than the Chargers. The biggest issue will more than likely be Travis Kelce. How we plan to stop him, I don't know. All I can hope is that we have no terrible tackling like we had when Rahim Moore came up against him Week 1 last year.
Call me stupid, but I'm not "scared" by the Chiefs' offense. Alex Smith is a perfectly good quarterback, Jeremy Maclin is a good WR, and Kelce is a great TE. But they don't have enough threats for us not to be able to deal with it. I'm also not scared by a defense that let the Chargers put up 27 points and 388 yards.
This time we shouldn't be seven points down before the game has even begun.
Brett: Texans 30, Chiefs 16.
The Texans have a better receiving corps, better starting running back (with Jamaal Charles injured), better pass rush, better secondary, better coach, and no longer have a huge disadvantage at quarterback in this matchup. When you also factor in their desire for revenge and the fact that this game is in Houston, I don't really see any major reasons why the Texans should lose this game. Pencil this one in for the good guys.
Dunsmore: Texans 30, Chiefs 14.
Brian Hoyer was the big difference in the last meeting between these two teams. The Texans have vastly improved the quarterback position to at least league average. I'm making this pick so I can cheer myself up with the Astros tail-spinning to the end of their season.
If you're still here, congratulations - you really love predictions! Feel free to share your game prediction in the comments below.
Chiefs vs Texans coverage