Chiefs at Texans is more than an opener


Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) is pressured by Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) during the game at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs defeated the Texans 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oct. 20, 2013, was the last time the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans played against each other in a regular season game. In a tightly contested game the Chiefs were able to edge out the Texans in a 17-16 win. A lot has changed since that game for both teams, except for both are very good on defense.

Some Kansas City fans believe this is a lock win for the Chiefs since the Texans will be without their starting running back and don’t have a strong quarterback. These fans should be reminded that we lost to a two-win Tennessee Titans team in our opener last year.

All that said, this is game is important to both teams for multiple reasons. Neither team wants to start off 0-1 but an underlying story in this game may be between the two high-paid defensive stars in this matchup J.J. Watt and Justin Houston. These two players have been wrecking offenses since the day they entered the NFL, combining for 116 sacks and 397 tackles. It’s safe to say that neither quarterback is looking forward to facing these players.

In his four years, Watt has accumulated 66 sacks and 228 tackles. On Sept. 2, 2014, Watt received a six-year contract worth $100.5 million and $51.8 guaranteed. At that point he received the most guaranteed money for a defensive player in NFL history.

This set the bar for Houston who had already been in contract negotiations with the Chiefs but hadn’t been able to come to come to an agreement. In his four years in the league Houston has totaled up 50 sacks and 169 tackles for the Chiefs. The rumors had started in late 2014 that he was looking for “J.J. Watt money” and to provide some proof that he was worth the investment he finished 2014 with 22 sacks and 40 tackles, edging out Watt on sacks who finished with 20.5.

On July 15, Houston signed a six-year deal worth $101 million and $52.5 million guaranteed. Do you think that was a coincidence? Hardly. Houston was set on being paid higher even if it was just 1 percent more and we’d be fools to not think that Watt didn’t see that.

Whether Watt is actually stewing over this and is going to take out his built-up frustration on Alex Smith this weekend is to be determined. You could definitely make a case for Watt to want to go out there when he squares off against Houston and prove he’s the more elite player.

The stats already back it up as in their four years Watt has 16 more sacks and 59 more tackles. Sure, some of that could be related to scheme but even away from that Watt has been on another planet on quarterback pressures. According to Pro Football Focus, Watt led the league among defensive ends in a 3-4 scheme with 54 quarterback hurries (next closest was 41) and quarterback hits with 44 (next closest was 15).

In 2014, Houston led all 3-4 outside linebackers with 58 quarterback hurries and finished with only eight hits on the quarterbacks which was ranked 22nd in the league. Watt gets closer much more often with his large win in quarterback hits with the 44 to 8 comparison.  As much as Watt has a case for something to prove in this matchup so does Houston after his big contract, this should be a very fun matchup to watch.

One more layer of intrigue to add to this game along the same lines of Watt and Houston is the critical statement that Dee Ford made about fellow 2014 draftee Jadeveon Clowney.

"“I’m better (than Clowney). Let’s put it like this. People like to talk about size all the time. Size is pretty much overrated in my eyes,” Ford said on Sirius XM NFL Radio Sunday. “You can look at guys like Robert Mathis, Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller. These are 6-2 guys and under. People are just looking at the fact that he’s a fiscal specimen. Honestly if you watch the film, he plays like a blind dog in a meat market, basically.”"

Clowney responded a day later after doing drills at the combine,

"“I told (Ford), ‘I don’t see you out here. You ain’t doing none of these drills.’ For him to say something, I (didn’t) want to hear it,” Clowney told NFL Network. “I just feel like he just said that to build his stock up or something. But it didn’t bother me. I told him. ‘I’m still better than you.’ We’re just out here having fun, enjoying ourselves. He felt like he needed something to help himself out, to say something. But I was fine with it.”"

Both players haven’t contributed much to their teams since being drafted. Clowney’s issue has been his his health which caused him to miss the rest of the season after the first four games. While Ford has been healthy and played more games he is more known for his run away from Frank Gore than any positive plays he’s made in the league thus far.

Ford is predicted to have a much larger role in the defense this year and hopefully make a good name for himself. The two former SEC defensive stars will make their cases for who’s better on Sunday.