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Texans vs Chiefs Betting Preview for NFL Divisional Round Game

Tyreek Hill
Credit: Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

(2) Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

The Chiefs didn’t look like a bye-worthy team for a minute there. After a 4-0 start, Kansas City proceeded to lose four out of their next six games and briefly looked like a team in danger of losing their own division. Patrick Mahomes was playing hurt and the defense was only performing against bad teams. They were always a playoff team, but it seemed for a moment that they might be an earlier playoff exit than many anticipated entering the season. Well, they got things back on track eventually, winning their final six games, including a victory in New England that would go on to earn them the tiebreaker over the capitulating Patriots. They earned the spot they’re in, but after giving some reasons for doubt, such as their 2-4 record against playoff teams, these Chiefs still have a lot to prove.

 

What are they good at?

This Chiefs team can score with the best of them. Although they didn’t hit the number one mark they resided in last season, KC still finished just inside the top five in terms of scoring. Reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes couldn’t approach his 2018 numbers; he was playing hurt but even still those types of numbers might be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence (or not, who knows). Even though his touchdown numbers nearly got cut in half, falling to 26, Mahomes solidified his standing as arguably the best quarterback playing today. The man is a miracle worker who can play equally well in and out of the pocket. He can make any throw with astonishing accuracy, and he’s one of the most clutch performers in the game today. Like a few quarterbacks I’ve mentioned before this, Mahomes almost never turns the ball over, with just five interceptions on the year.

His weapons may be the best in the playoffs. Travis Kelce rolled out of bed and had his fourth-straight 1,000-yard season. He’s one of the best players in football and is on his way to the Hall of Fame. While Texans defenders are keyed on him, the Chiefs employ all the fastest guys in the league at their receiver positions, which tends to complicate matters. Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman both run sub-4.33 40 times, which has resulted in the Chiefs being possibly the top big-play offense in the NFL. Mahomes’ 15 pass plays of 40 or more yards finished second behind only Dak Prescott for top in the league, and don’t forget Mahomes only played 14 games and Hill only played 12. This team will absolutely scorch you if you aren’t ready, and few are ever ready for the pure strength, speed and talent the Chiefs have on offense.

The running game is better than it appears on paper. The team itself averaged 4.2 YPC, but that number dipped in the middle of the season when injuries forced Matt Moore, Darrell Williams and Darwin Thompson into more meaningful roles, which killed the team’s efficiency. The team’s top two runners, Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy, both rush for at least 4.5 YPC. What’s most important is that the Chiefs just don’t do it very much, with the sixth-fewest rush attempts in the league this year, which puts them right around all the worst teams in the league. But this isn’t a bad thing, because instead of passing out of desperation, they intentionally keep the ball in their best player’s hands and constantly stay on the attack, which opens up room to run when they decide to give it a go.

Defensively, the Chiefs struggle in a few areas, so I’ll be brief before getting into the nitty-gritty in the weaknesses section. 

To give them credit, KC has been extremely solid at defending the pass. Against the 10th-most passing attempts in the league, the Chiefs have allowed the eighth-fewest passing yards. They also allow just the eighth-fewest touchdown passes while intercepting the fifth most passes. They’re dangerous, and the man behind it all is none other than the Honey Badger himself. Tyrann Mathieu, the All-Pro (but not Pro Bowl!?) safety, started every game and led the team in passes defended (12) and interceptions (4) while also chipping in two sacks. He’s joined by a very solid supporting class, including safety Juan Thornhill and corners Charvarius Ward and Kendall Fuller. The always-beatable Bashaud Breeland, who was tied for most penalized defensive back in the league, is the weak link the Texans will need to exploit.

Chris Jones is a nightmare on the inside. He will personally disrupt your entire gameplan and there isn’t much you can do about it. And him WITH Frank Clark? Have fun dropping back to pass. Or don’t. The two combined for 17 sacks and 34 QB hits, while batting down a combined 8 passes and forcing four fumbles. And one of the two wasn’t pulling most of the weight in those combined stats either; they both were absolute studs this season and matched each other’s achievements on a scary pass-rushing line.  One concern, however, is a hamstring injury that Jones sustained this week in practice. So even with the bye, not every Chief is going to be at 100%. 

Harrison Butker is currently one of the league’s most reliable kickers. The Chiefs shouldn’t be worried with the position, which is a luxury that you can really understand most when your team’s kicker can’t kick to save his life. 

 

What are they bad at?

I mentioned Breeland before, but I have to include him here. He’s a tough player to watch on a secondary that does their job well otherwise. He’ll be good for a game-changing interference penalty at some point in this game, or he’ll just get beat for a long pass; he can do either.

The Chiefs can’t stop the run. They will get manhandled in the trenches when you are running the ball and allow your running back to rush for 4.9 yards per carry. That number ranked fourth-worst in the entire league; and their ineptitude in that area nearly cost them a bye. The Colts gave the rest of the league the blueprint for beating the Chiefs: run and never stop running, because make no mistake, they will not be able to stop you.

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