Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans
Sunday October 17th, 2010 1:00 PM EST
Line: Houston -5
The 3-1 Chiefs suffered a tough loss last week against the Colts. Although they kept it close the entire game, the Colts pulled away at the end, beating them by ten. Houston is 3-2. Their losses have both come at home against opponents outside of their division. This game fits that description. The Texans will try to break their trend while the Chiefs look to move to 4-1 and establish themselves as a threat to the rest of the league.
Keys to the Game:
- Who would have thought Arian Foster would still be the leading rusher in the NFL? 562 yards on the ground through five games. Last week was the first week Foster met real resistance. The Giants shut him down completely, holding him to 25 yards on 11 carries. Foster’s lack of production caused the Texans to falter. They put up a season low ten points. The Texans and Foster will look to bounce back, but they are meeting a top five defense in the NFL. Romeo Crennel is going to evaluate what made the Giants so successful last week. Foster won’t be held to the same amount of yardage, but if they can contain him to under 100 yards, the Texans become a lot less threatening. The Chiefs have had no problem stopping the run this year, so Foster could be in for a rough day.
- The Chiefs need to focus on their pass defense. They don’t have one defensive back that is over the age of 24. Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers are both going to have their hands full every play with Kevin Walter and Andre Johnson. To make matters worse, the entire Chiefs team has only racked up eight sacks this season. With limited pressure on the quarterback, you put all the responsibility on your defensive backs. Coverage sacks are not going to come out of this group. Eric Berry has all the tools to be a successful safety in this league, but he is encountering growing pains. It is going to be difficult for him to be effective against this group. The Texans are a balanced offense. The Chiefs are not a complete defense. If the Texans aren’t able to run the ball, they are going to air it out. Kevin Walter and Andre Johnson could both have big days. There is no room for error in this outing. It is surprising to me that the Chiefs have not found a way to a apply a respectable amount of pressure in the backfield. They are going to need to on Sunday so Matt Schaub can’t sit in the pocket all day.
- Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, and Dexter McCluster provide a versatile backfield. Charlses has blazing speed, Jones is more of a true balanced running back, and McCluster is quick and shifty. McCluster has not been used coming out of the backfield much this year, but his talents have been showcased by his special teams play. He is sure handed, so when he is in the game, he is usually running routes. The trio are the centerpiece of the Cheifs offense. If the Texans can find a way to bottle up their backfield, the Chiefs offense won’t be able to move. As a team, the Chiefs produce 148.8 yards a game on the ground. Whatever success Matt Cassel has, although his success is limited, it is due to the fact that teams are willing to give up the tiny slant routes in order to limit the huge gainers on the ground. You won’t see anyone in cover four against the Chiefs. Dwayne Bowe can be solid at times, but defensive coordinators don’t lie awake at night over what the Chiefs can do in the air.
This is going to come down to coaching. The Chiefs gave up a touchdown late in the game to blow the spread. When they lose, they are well coached enough to only lose by a small margin. They will remain competitive. While the Texans are a much more talented team, in their last four weeks they have gone into overtime, lost two games by double digit margins, and beaten the Raiders by a touchdown. The Chiefs are better than the Raiders. They could lose this one by a field goal, but not by five.
Free NFL Pick: Kansas City +5