AFC Divisional preview: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes is on the hunt for his first Super Bowl win. Photo: David Eulitt - Getty Images

The Houston Texans kicked off wild card round last Saturday with a thrilling 22-19 comeback victory against the Buffalo Bills. The Texans forced the game into overtime coming back from 16-0 down to score 19 unanswered points and take a late lead for the first time in the game. The Bills scored a late field goal to take the game to overtime.

However, this would simply delay the inevitable with the momentum now with the Texans. Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked the game winning 28-yard field goal in overtime after both teams punted on their first possessions. 

As the AFC’s second seed, the Kansas City Chiefs benefitted from a bye week last week and will certainly come into this game a lot fresher considering the Texans played almost five quarters last week and also have to travel to Arrowhead Stadium.

Their last game was a 31-21 win against the Los Angeles Chargers, which confirmed second seed for them after the New England Patriots surprise defeat to the Miami Dolphins

Texans need to learn from last week’s close shave quickly 

Had the Buffalo Bills been more clinical on offense last week, I’d be writing about the Bills versus Chiefs today. The Bills 16-0 lead they held mid-way through the third quarter consisted of their touchdown on the opening drive of the game, followed by three Stephen Hauschka field goals. On all of those field goal scoring drives the Bills got to the red zone or just short of it, but were unable to break down the Texans where it really counted. 

Credit is due to the Texans defense for stopping the Bills converting long drives into TD’s but, credit will not be good enough this week as the Chiefs’ offense led by Patrick Mahomes is a completely different proposition.  

If Bills quarterback Josh Allen threw for 264 yards, rushed for 92 yards and even caught a 16-yard TD catch, what can Mahomes do coming in off a bye at home? 

The Texans will be looking to their leader and heart of the team, three-time defensive player of the year, J.J. Watt to build on last week’s comeback from his pectoral injury in October, which was supposed to be season ending and torment Mahomes. 

Two of the NFL's most exciting quarterbacks going head to head 

Sundays game will see two of the most dynamic quarterbacks of recent times going head to head in the Texans’ Deshaun Watson and the reigning MVP of the NFL, the Chiefs’ Mahomes. 

In last week’s game Watson threw for 247 yards, one TD and completed 80 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 55 yards including a 20-yard TD run of his own. With 90 receiving yards last week, top receiver DeAndre Hopkins will be hoping to play a big part in Sunday’s game. 

In week 17 Mahomes was quiet by his standards throwing for 174 yards, one TD and one interception. Chiefs running back Damien Williams done a lot of the hard work running for 124 yards and two TD’s. 

Looking at the two quarterbacks’ body of work in the regular season they have posted similar numbers. Mahomes with 4,031 yards for the season (10th in the NFL) is just slightly ahead of Watson with 3,852 (13th in the NFL). Both threw 26 TD’s in the regular season, while Mahomes threw five interceptions compared to Watson’s 12.  

With both QB’s posting similar numbers in the main offensive stats it could be the ability of each teams’ offensive lines to protect their QB that could prove pivotal. Mahomes in the regular season was sacked only 17 times, second only to Drew Brees among regular starting QB’s. Watson was sacked 44 times, the sixth highest tally in the league. 

Can the defenses stop Mahomes and Watson? 

These two teams both rank in the bottom half of the NFL in total defense with Kansas City ranked 17th (349.6 yards per game) and Houston ranked 28th (388.3 yards per game). Based on that both quarterbacks should feel confident they can move the chains and put points on the board. 

What could become crucial as the game goes on is the turnover battle. With the Chiefs tied fifth in interceptions with 16, led by Tyrann Mathieu with four himself, keeping the ball safe will be crucial to the Texans hopes of coming away from Kansas City with a win. 

Prediction 

If the Texans start Sunday’s game as they did against the Bills last week they will find themselves with a mountain to climb very quickly as Kansas City will put touchdowns on the board where the Bills couldn’t.  

The Chiefs will be too fresh for the Texans after coming off a bye week. 

The bookmakers have the Chiefs as –9.5 favourites against the spread. Chiefs to win by between 13-18 points. 

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