Chiefs face Texans in Wild-Card round Saturday
By Zach Cohen
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-5) at HOUSTON TEXANS (9-7)
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET
‘AFC Wild Card Playoffs’
Line: Kansas City -3.0, Total: 40.5
The NFL postseason begins with the Texans hosting a Chiefs team that has won 10 straight games entering Saturday’s win or go home battle.
The Chiefs are the hottest team in the league entering the postseason, as their 23-17 home victory over Oakland in Week 17 was their 10th straight victory. Kansas City has not been blowing teams out, though. In fact, the Chiefs have covered in just one of their past four games. The Texans, meanwhile, won-and-covered in their final three games and they needed all of those wins to come away as the winner of the AFC South. These two teams have already met this season and the Chiefs were the winners in that Sep. 13 game. Kansas City went into Houston that day and won 27-20 as a one-point road favorite. The team has won the only two meetings in this series over the past three seasons. There are trends that work both ways in this game, as the Chiefs are 8-0 ATS off two or more consecutive Unders over the past two seasons. They are also, however, a miserable 1-10 ATS in playoff games since 1992. LB Justin Houston (Knee) is listed as questionable for the Chiefs in this one and WR Cecil Shorts (Hamstring) and LB Jadeveon Clowney (Foot) are questionable for the Texans.
The Chiefs have been playing insanely well, but none of that matters if the team can’t pick up a win on Saturday. Kansas City will lean heavily on its defense in this one and it is for good reason. The Chiefs have allowed 17 or less points in four straight games and have not allowed more than 22 points in a single game since a Week 4 loss to the Bengals. Offensively, Kansas City will lean on a running game that has churned out 127.8 yards per game (6th in NFL). The Chiefs have had no problem dealing with the loss of Jamaal Charles, as Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware have run the ball extremely well in his place. They will need to find a way to be effective on Saturday. As for Alex Smith, the quarterback must avoid making any costly errors on Saturday. He has thrown for 3,486 yards with 20 touchdowns and just seven interceptions this year, but one of those picks was against the Raiders in Week 17 and it went the other way for a touchdown. That type of error could be the difference in whether or not his team can advance.
The Texans were a long shot to make the postseason before the year, but the team was able to surprise people en route to doing so. Houston’s defense was remarkable during a three-game winning streak to finish the season. The Texans allowed just 22 points over the final three weeks of the year and that play on the defensive end is what ultimately got the team into the playoffs. Brian Hoyer was also a revelation for the Texans, throwing for 2,606 yards with 19 touchdowns and just seven picks this season. He’ll look to keep the ball out of the Chiefs’ hands for as long as he can on Saturday and should be able to do that as long as he is targeting DeAndre Hopkins often. Hopkins emerged as one of the best receivers in football this season, hauling in 111 catches for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. He should have no problem finding success against the Chiefs, as he had nine receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns when they met earlier in the season.