The rap on the Kansas City Chiefs all season long has been that they are too permissive on the defensive side of the ball. And that will prevent them from advancing into Super Bowl betting territory. But they have made some improvements in that area. And meanwhile, the Houston Texans could have some defensive deficiencies that could be exploited. These squads meet up in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
It’s a home game for the Chiefs, who won the AFC West and earned a first-round playoff bye. But the Texans have already made the trip this season, and beat KC at Arrowhead by a 31-24 score. In that game, Patrick Mahomes, as of now the reigning NFL MVP, was bothered by an ankle injury, which may have affected his throwing.
Kickoff is slated for 3:05 PM ET. BetAnySports customers can watch the game live and place wagers on it, using the facilities of Sports Betting Ultra.
Let’s take a look at this matchup:
Houston Offense – Elementary, My Dear Watson
DeShaun Watson might be the quarterback who best combines the qualities of strength and elusiveness. Watson has been making remarkable plays since college. But few of them compared to the pass he made to Taiwan Jones in overtime last week. It came as he managed to escape from what looked like a sure sack by TWO Buffalo defenders. He scrambled, hit his man, and that set up the winning field goal.
Watson threw for 280 yards in the first meeting between these two. He has one of the top groups of downfield receivers in the game. That includes All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins. And the ground game is a good enough complement, with the hard-working Carlos Hyde topping the 1000-yard mark.
Kansas City Defense – Ground Games a Problem?
Houston might be able to play a bit of smashmouth against the Chiefs’ defensive unit, and that is because they have all too often shown themselves to be a bit soft up front. In terms of the metrics, they ranked 30th in “stuff rate.” This measures the percentage of run plays in which they were able to hold the opposition to no gain or negative yardage.
They were also next to last on the “2nd level.” That means once the runner gets a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage, the tacklers that are there to make plays are well below par.
Kansas City did have 45 quarterback sacks. And that is something that compensates their inability to slow the run. Well, at least to some extent.
Chiefs vs. Texans NFL Divisional Playoffs Odds
|Texans||+9½ (-110)||51½ (-105)||+368|
|Chiefs||-9½ (-110)||51½ (-115)||-475|
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Houston Defense – There’s a Bad Zone For Them
Texans’ defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is the former head coach in Kansas City. And there is always something a guy wants to demonstrate when he’s in that position.
The important thing to remember here is that JJ Watt has come back from a torn pectoral muscle. And his presence obviously gives this stop unit a big boost. Houston only had 30 sacks, so this is an upgrade, for sure.
There is NO team in the NFL that is worse in defending in the red zone. The Texans have surrendered touchdowns on 71.4% of their opponents’ red zone trips.
Kansas City Offense – Mahomes
The Chiefs will go as far as Patrick Mahomes takes them. When he faced Houston earlier in the season, he may have problems getting proper leverage on his throws. But he’s healthier now.
KC is third in the league in yards gained per drive. And they are held to a three-and-out only 13.5% of the time. But they sometimes get held up in the red zone; they 54% TD rate ranks them 20th.
When you give up 71.4% touchdowns in the red zone, you turn mediocre red zone teams into good red zone teams. And while KC leads the NFL with 47.6% on third downs, Houston is the worst defense since the merger on third downs (48.9%) to ever make the playoffs.
We’ll give the edge to the Chiefs.
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