NFL Wild Card game 1 2016 – Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans

DSC_0304Let’s get the blindingly obvious statement of fact out of the ay first shall we? Turnovers are going to be crucial in this game and that’s probably why the Chiefs are favourites to win by 6 points or less. Their Defence has collected 29 turnovers this season which is the 5th highest number in the league and while the Texans have managed 25 the team’s differ greatly in the number of times they have relinquished possession of the ball. Kansas City have only turned the ball over 15 times (the 2nd lowest number in the NFL) with 7 interceptions and 8 fumbles, however only 7 of the fumbles came on Offence and just 2 of them were recovered by their opponents. Houston have conceded possession 20 times this season with 12 interceptions and 5 fumbles on Offence, again just 2 of their fumbles were recovered by opposing Defence’s.
It’s impossible to get to the end of the regular season without losing any players to injury and the Texans have 12 players on their Injured Reserve list and injuries partly explain why their Offence has been so staccato, they have had 4 different Quarterbacks over the course of the 16 regular season games and Brian Hoyer who looks set to start in this game has only been back for 1 game after suffering what was called a “lingering concussion”. Hoyer has been sacked 25 times in the 11 games he’s played this season and thrown 7 interceptions while he’s managed just 19 touchdown passes, so he’s not really been at this best. Starting Running Back Arian Foster has been out since the end of October and his replacement Alfred Blue has only rushed for 2 touchdowns in the 16 games that he has been a part of, in fact the Texans have only rushed for 10 touchdowns as a team.
The Kansas City Defence has only allowed 7 rushing touchdowns all season, their pass defence on the other hand hasn’t been so stubborn and they’ve conceded 25 touchdown passes this season which is a statistic that will keep DeAndre Hopkins interested today. The lightning fast Texan has averaged over 95 yards per game this season and hauled in 11 touchdown passes, if and it’s a big if with the NFL 2014 leading pass rusher Justin Houston returning to the Chiefs starting line-up, the Texans can protect Hoyer well then Hopkins could single-handedly win this game. If Hoyer is pressured though and throws in a hurry then the Chiefs 6 feet 3 inch Cornerback Sean Smith and Marcus Peters who leads the NFL in interceptions will be only too delighted to gobble up any wayward pass attempts.
The Texans Defence has been their major asset this season and with players like Vince Wilfork, Jadeveon Clowney and Brian Cushing patrolling around the line of scrimmage it’s hardly surprising. The run game has been a big part of the Cheifs success this season and even without their number 1 Running Back Jamaal Charles they have still averaged over 127 yards per game and scored 19 rushing touchdowns with Quarterback Alex Smith’s ability to run for first downs and even more (he scored on a 12 yard run at Wembley and notched up a 49 yard run that really sparked his offence into life against an unravelling Lions team) will be a test for the league’s leading sacker in JJ Watt. If the Texans aren’t able to slow down the Chiefs running game and pressure Smith then they could be on the end of a heavy defeat as they have allowed on average 101.6 yards after the catch per game this season. The Chiefs have their own speedster Wide Receiver in Jeremy Maclin who recorded 1,088 yards this season, but the Chiefs prefer to use their big man in the redzone and in Tight End Travis Kelce they have one of the best big men in the NFL, he’s like a slightly smaller version of Rob Gronkowski, but at 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighing in at over 18 stone he’s as difficult to tackle as Gronk.
I expect the Chiefs to win this game despite having to travel 743 miles and unless Brian Hoyer is at his very best then it could be quite an easy victory for the away side. The Chiefs have a few ghosts to battle however, in particular the fact that Alex Smith has only won 1 playoff game in his career whilst he’s lost 2 and their Head Coach Andy Reid has a less than stellar record in postseason football winning just 10 games of the 19 that he’s coached in.

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