5 Bold Predictions for Kansas City Chiefs' Week 7 Matchup
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Matt Schaub, the starting quarterback of the 2-4 Houston Texans, bears a striking resemblance to Gomer Pyle. Uncanny as uncanny gets.
If the press informed him that he's the winningest quarterback in franchise history, you'd bank on him rattling back, "Gollllly! Ain't that about madder than a billy goat in a pepper patch?" or some other nonsensical Southern proverb.
As far as the whole "winningest quarterback" thing goes? You wouldn't know if judging by his play in 2013. Schaub became the first passer in NFL history to fling pick-sixes in four consecutive weeks.
Last Sunday, he went down in agonizing pain, the crowd cheered—everything's bigger in Texas, including fan-to-village-idiot ratio—and T.J. Yates breathed new life into the record via a 98-yard pick-six of his own.
Schaub is doubtful for this weekend's clash at Arrowhead, which means that Yates, the man Texans fans clamored for, should pen his first start of the 2013 season. And it will comes against the Chiefs—Pro Football Focus' (PFF) No. 1 defense.
By the time Sunday's final whistle blows, Schaub will look better than he has all season, without taking a single snap from under center.
Matt Schaub, you're welcome.
Hugs, Love and Pogo Sticks, Bob Sutton.
Here are five bold prophecies heading into Sunday's matchup between the Texans and Chiefs.
Statistics provided by Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Sean McGrath Will Net at Least 6 Receptions
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When I first saw Sean McGrath, three questions infiltrated my thoughts. One: Why do I feel like chopping down a redwood? Two: Who is protecting Asgard? Three: Wait, is this guy actually good?
During the offseason, a trio of tight ends were penciled into Kansas City's depth chart: Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce and Tony Moeaki.
Kelce and Moeaki were relegated to the IR before playing a regular-season snap, and an ankle injury has prohibited Fasano from suiting up in the past four games.
Prior to Week 6, McGrath was ranked PFF's No. 9 tight end. Not too bad for a last-minute waiver-wire addition. However, the Bearded One saw only three targets hurl his direction last week, and none of them whizzed within arms' reach.
Expect McGrath to get back on track versus Houston. Out of the Texans' six opponents, four tight ends have amassed at least one reception of 20-plus yards. That list includes Jared Cook, who led the St. Louis Rams with 45 receiving yards last week.
Alex Smith plays to his potential's peak when tight ends are effectively shuffled into the game plan (see Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker). Following his roughest outing of the season, No. 11 would be smart to make a more concerted effort in lobbing the pigskin to his No. 84.
Jamaal Charles Will Eclipse His Season High of 172 Total Yards
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St. Louis' Zac Stacy is a rusher with a compact frame, above-average vision, elusive agility and pedestrian top-end speed. He carved the Texans defense for 79 yards on 18 carries (4.4 yards per carry).
Nothing is pedestrian about Jamaal Charles' straight-line speed. If he sees the same amount of daylight, Texans defenders will be chasing dust and tackling ghosts.
Everybody's fully aware of how talented, dynamic and borderline crazy linebacker Brian Cushing is. However, returning from a Week 5 concussion, Week 6 won't find its way into Cushing's scrapbook.
The linebacker's impact is directly affected by J.J. Watt's, who failed to register a single tackle versus the Rams. Why?
As PFF's Sam Monson explains,
[Watt] was in on 38 snaps (not counting penalties), and on those snaps he was left one-on-one with a chance to influence the play just 11 times. On six of those 11 plays he either beat his man or directly influenced the play.
St. Louis swallowed its pride and acknowledged Watt's freakish capabilities, so the Rams chipped and double-teamed the defensive end on the majority of snaps. When Watt was spared of the extra attention, he routinely penetrated the backfield and disrupted the play design, leaving a fresh victim for Cushing to pounce upon.
On handoffs, the Chiefs would be wise to subscribe to the Rams' philosophy and, whether running at or away from him, assign help on Watt. Anthony Sherman, PFF's highest-rated lead blocker, should be able to win the bulk of matchups with Cushing.
While the injury-prone linebacker is a menace inside of the hash marks, his gung-ho mentality can be exploited via misdirection. He's also not as dangerous when moving laterally in space, so expect a healthy dose of screens—the only facet of the passing game that Kansas City's line consistently excels at.
Justin Houston and Tamba Hali Will Combine for at Least 6 Sacks
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I would pay to hear Joe Rogan commentate a Chiefs game. The man has a genuine gift for covering anything contact-related and making you feel like you just escaped a pterodactyl's predatory swoop while snowboarding atop an avalanche from the peak of Everest.
He's the only personality on earth who will ever drive a million-plus people to devote their undivided attention to a faulty ice pack.
If Rogan watched Tamba Hali and Justin Houston on any particular Sunday, I'm convinced that commas would go extinct and Greg Gumbel would be on the wrong end of an adrenaline-fueled chest bump through announcer-booth glass.
Hali leads the NFL with 39 quarterback pressures—14 more than the closest competition. And the closest competition just happens to be the man lining up on the opposite side of the formation, Houston.
St. Louis, a club that registered only 11 sacks in its previous five games, tallied five sacks against Houston. Kansas City recorded 10 against one of the most evasive quarterbacks in the league, as well as 14 hits (eight of which belonged to the aforementioned tandem).
Only six squads have managed double-digit sacks in a single game since the turn of the century. (Coincidentally, the Chiefs were the last team to accomplish the feat in the 20th century, and it stemmed from a blowout versus the Raiders at Arrowhead as well.)
By nature, T.J. Yates is the type of quarterback who will gladly take a sack rather than impulsively sling a hopeless heave. Plus, the Texans' starting right tackle, Derek Newton, has been flagged (seven penalties) more than any tackle in the NFL, and only two of his positional cohorts have given up more quarterback hurries (22).
The Chiefs Defense Will Force a Season High in Turnovers
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Last Sunday, Houston nearly doubled St. Louis in total yardage and first-down conversions, yet the Texans still lost by 25 points. The culprit? Turnovers. St. Louis protected the ball throughout the entirety of the game, while Houston was victimized by two fumbles and a couple of interceptions.
The Chiefs lead the league with 18 takeaways (10 interceptions, eight fumbles). The Texans, meanwhile, headline the AFC with 15 giveaways (11 interceptions, four fumbles). It's not quantum physics.
T.J. Yates doesn't flaunt intimidating arm strength, and while he's not as statuesque as Steve Bono, his mobility doesn't exactly spark Randall Cunningham flashbacks either.
Bob Sutton will need a bib before the day draws to a close.
Kansas City Will Return Two Pick-Sixes
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Allow me to reiterate this: The Houston Texans have been grilled by pick-sixes in five consecutive weeks. At some point, you have to concede that that kind of misfortune is the work of a higher power.
If some almighty football deity exists, he's/she's obviously a slighted Lakers fan still sniping darts at a Dwight Howard poster.
A pick-six is incredibly rare. In the sporting climate of 2013, pick-sixes in consecutive weeks all but warrant a pitchfork-waving protest. Pick-sixes in five straight games? You could spend your entire summer playing as Vinny Testaverde on Tecmo Bowl, and you still wouldn't throw...actually, never mind. But you get the point.
Kansas City's vaunted defense is tied for the league lead with three interception-return touchdowns.
If the Chiefs jump out to an early two-possession lead, Houston will be left with no choice but to start airing the ball out. T.J. Yates has showcased lackluster decision-making throughout his brief NFL career, and average arm strength curtails the third-year passer's margin of error.
Inside of a deafening Arrowhead Stadium last week, an inexperienced quarterback, who backpedaled behind a shoddy offensive line, yielded three turnovers (including one pick-six). This Sunday, a less experienced passer will drop back with arguably worse protection surrounding him.
Guinness might have departed a week too early.
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