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Chiefs vs. Texans: TV Schedule, Odds, Ticket Info, Game Time and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2016

DeAndre Hopkins and the Houston Texans host the Kansas City Chiefs in Saturday's AFC playoff game.
DeAndre Hopkins and the Houston Texans host the Kansas City Chiefs in Saturday's AFC playoff game.Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

Two of the NFL's better turnaround stories take center stage Saturday when the Kansas City Chiefs encounter the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card Round.

The 9-7 Texans looked lost after a 1-4 start, but they closed the season on a three-win streak and finished the second half of the season 6-2 to win the AFC South.

Kansas City personifies the word "turnaround," though, boasting a 10-win streak after starting the season 1-5, making history in the process, though the run wasn't enough to catch the Denver Broncos in the AFC West.

These two met in Week 1, where the Chiefs escaped with a 27-20 victory before the skid. As one can guess, though, much has changed since. Here's everything to know about the heavyweight matchup.

Game Details

When: Saturday, January 9, at 4:35 p.m. ET

Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas

Television: ESPN, ABC

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Tickets: ScoreBig.com

Over/Under: 40

Spread: Kansas City (-3.5)

Team Injury Reports

Chiefs
NAMESTATUS
Justin Houston, LBQuestionable
Jeremy Maclin, WRQuestionable
Dee Ford, LBQuestionable
ESPN.com
Texans
NAMESTATUS
Nate Washington, WRQuestionable
Duane Brown, OTOut
Jadeveon Clowney, LBQuestionable
ESPN.com

Injury reports courtesy of ESPN.

Finishing Strong 

The Chiefs might be the hottest team around.

Even mostly without Jamaal Charles, Alex Smith has completed 65.3 percent of his passes this year with 20 touchdowns to seven picks. Wideouts actually catch touchdowns for the organization now, with Jeremy Maclin leading the way at 87 grabs for 1,088 yards and eight scores. The defense allows just 17.9 points per game.

Not that any of the above is enough. Coach Andy Reid's worried about how his team finishes games ahead of Saturday's contest, which makes sense given the stagnant second-half offense the Chiefs have fielded over the past few weeks. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star explained:

Each game brought different circumstances. For instance, the Chiefs had the ball for only eight minutes and ran 17 plays in the second half against the Browns.

But even coach Andy Reid said the Chiefs were “putting an emphasis on being better in the second half,” and earlier this week brought up his team’s second-half goose egg at Houston in September.

The Chiefs got three touchdowns from Smith in the Week 1 showdown, a great sign as even Charles could only gain 57 yards against the Houston defense. Houston adjusted, though, and held the Chiefs scoreless over the final two frames.

It's no wonder the finish is the focus for the Chiefs this week. A team can only hold Houston's DeAndre Hopkins—who caught nine passes for 98 yards and two scores in Week 1—in check for so long while hoping J.J. Watt doesn't single-handedly alter the eventual outcome.

Maybe it's fitting that Kansas City's key to continuing the streak means putting down its biggest weakness.

Leaning on Strengths

Many wondered why Texans coach Bill O'Brien didn't take a quarterback high in drafts as of late, but the man's known as a quarterback guru for a reason, getting a 60.7 completion percentage and 19 touchdowns to seven interceptions out of veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer this year.

Hoyer, of course, leans on Hopkins' 111 catches, 1,521 yards and 11 scores. A Watt-led defense allowing just 19.6 points per game doesn't hurt, either.

What does is the untimely injury to left tackle Duane Brown, who the team had to place on injured reserve, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Call it a horrific turn of events for a feel-good story of a team ahead of a matchup with Justin Houston and a squad quite capable of applying pressure. Brown's absence places an even bigger emphasis on the Texans' strengths.

One, of course, is the defense, which didn't need any extra motivation based on numbers provided by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle:

John McClain @McClain_on_NFL

During 7-2 finish, Texans def ranked first in yds (263), points (12.7), passing yards (185.8) and tied for first with 32 sacks.

Arian Foster or not, the triple-headed approach in the backfield behind Hoyer happens to be a strength, too, as NFL.com's Chris Wesseling pointed out: 

Chris Wesseling @ChrisWesseling

Texans backfield trio of Blue, Grimes and Hunt averaging 5.4 YPC over the past month. Coaches playing to each back’s strengths.

It's a great development for the Texans. Hopkins went off in the first matchup against the Chiefs, but Kansas City was without top corner Sean Smith. Better balance on the ground this time around might be the most important part of the game for the Texans. 

Prediction

In a battle of the defenses, Kansas City has an edge.

Over its 10-game streak, Kansas City has allowed just one opponent to score more than 20 points. Granted, it wasn't the most impressive stretch in the world in terms of competition, but if one wants to throw stones, Houston finished on a three-game streak by taking down Indianapolis, Tennessee and Jacksonville.

With Smith around to battle Hopkins and Houston on his way back to abuse an offensive line down its best player, the Texans will have a hard time getting the offense moving.

Kansas City's going to dominate time of possession in this one and display better consistency throughout to take home the win.

Prediction: Chiefs 30, Texans 20 

Stats courtesy of NFL.com and accurate as of January 6. All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football FocusAll betting information courtesy of Odds Shark.

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