Every week, we here at Arrowhead Addict break down the Kansas City Chiefs’ matchup of the week and predict five things the team will have to do in order to win. Welcome to Five Keys to Victory.
In case you didn’t know, and I’m surprised a bigger deal hasn’t been about it this week, but the Houston Texans have never lost at Arrowhead Stadium. Last week, in addition to breaking a world record and rolling to 6-0, the Chiefs stopped another winning streak at Arrowhead with the Oakland Raiders who had won the last six games in the Chiefs home stadium. If the Chiefs want to put an end to the team that recycled their original name winning in their stadium, this is what they’ll have to do.
Key #1: Stop J.J. Watt from Trying to Eat Alex Smith Like a Burrito
The reigning defensive player of the year is dangerous. He was something special as a rookie and then came back last season looking twice as dangerous. The Texans 2-4 record has nothing to do with the relentless, vicious and exceptional play of Watt. He can line up anywhere on the defensive front, and has earned the name “J.J. SWAT” for his ability to get his long arms up and knock down balls at the line of scrimmage. The offensive line will have its hands and feet and everything else full trying to contain the defensive powerhouse that is Watt.
Key #2: Control the Houston Running Game
The Texans have what I think most Chiefs fans wish the Chiefs had: two very good running backs. While I’m not taking anything away from Cyrus Gray or Knile Davis, neither of them can run with the Texans’ number two back, Ben Tate. Combined with Arian Foster out of the backfield, they give Houston a powerful ground game. The Chiefs defense has shown flashes of brilliance against the run, but with the Bob Sutton Attacking Scheme, sometimes they let a big play slip through their coverage. If they let Foster or Tate find the open field too much, they’ll make this defense pay.
Key #3: Exploit the Weakness – Destroy the Rookie QB
Building up to this game there was much speculation on who would be under center for the Texans. Incumbent starter, Matt Schaub, went down last week with an ankle injury, backup T.J. Yates stepped and in and quickly picked up where Schaub left off by throwing a pick six. With their starter out this week, the Texans turned to their “diamond in the rough” rookie QB, Case Keenum. He could be the most prolific passer to come out of college in the history of prolific passers, but until you actually have Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dontari Poe bearing down on you, you just don’t know how you’re going to react. The Chiefs need to rattle this kid early and keep the pressure up through the game.
Key #4: Exploit the Other Weakness – Run the Ball
While the Houston Texans boast the best defense in the NFL in regards to total yards allowed, they’re ranked 25th against the run. The Chiefs have one of the best running backs in the league. This should be an easy mismatch to exploit. Charles as well as his stable of backups need to get it done on the ground. This could be (and let’s hope) the week that Jamaal Charles breaks one of his 80 yard sprints to the end zone.
Key #5: Attack the Strengths – Pass the Ball?
While the Chiefs should have an easy time running the ball, passing the ball could prove to be more difficult. In addition to having the best defense with yards allowed, the Texans also boast the best passing defense. This is dangerous because passing the ball is where the Chiefs offense has struggled the most this season. I wouldn’t look for Smith to post huge numbers this week (do we ever?) but after wearing the defense down with the short passing game, this could be the week we see him go long.
This game could prove to be a low scoring, defensive battle as these two top five defenses clash against offenses who are proving to be quite stagnant. This will be the biggest test for this offense this season, as this is – hands down – the best defense this team has faced. We’ll see how it all shakes out.