The Houston Texans open their 2015 season at home this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. In advance of the contest, I had the pleasure of discussing the game with Matt Verderame, editor of the Arrowhead Addict, FanSided’s page dedicated to the Chiefs.
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Check out our discussion below where we get some insight into the upcoming contest from someone very familiar with the upcoming opponent.
RG: Thanks for taking some time to talk about upcoming game, the first question I have is about the passing game for the Chiefs against the pass defense for the Texans.
I personally see the secondary as a weakness for Houston with an unknown at safety and their best player being an aging corner in Johnathan Joseph. I have always felt Kareem Jackson is overrated, and while I love Kevin Johnson, this is his career debut Do you see Alex Smith being able to move the ball against this Texans secondary?
MV: I really like your corners, but I see one issue against KC. Crennel loves to play off-man and zone coverages. Against the Chiefs, that could spell trouble. Reid loves the underneath routes and if you can say anything about Alex Smith, it is that he’s smart and accurate. I don’t see Kansas City moving the ball insanely, but I expect production.
RG: How much will the addition of Jeremy Maclin help Kansas City? And how do you see him performing this Sunday?
MV: Maclin is a game-changer for the Chiefs. He gives Smith a real target on the outside who can run the entire route tree. I look for Maclin to be targeted early and often throughout the season. This Sunday, I like Jackson and Joseph a bit more that you, perhaps, but I believe he still gets his. Last year, Maclin went off in Houston.
RG: Jamaal Charles does it all for KC, but last season he saw his numbers go down as the team gave him the ball less. His average oer carry and per reception were still good, so was this more of the Chiefs trying to extend his career? How much does he have left in the tank?
MV: He dealt with foot and ankle injuries all season. Charles is still a great player, and I love his versatility. Expect to see him get 15-20 touches on Sunday with Knile Davis also rotating in. I see Charles lasting another 2-3 years.
RG: The Texans linebackers are either average or very inexperienced outside of Brian Cushing, do you see tight end Travis Kelce having his way with these guys?
MV: Frankly, this is the matchup I think Reid goes after all afternoon. Kelce is a massive man with the wheels to burn. Houston needs to have a good scheme against him, or Reid will go to that well consistently.
RG: How do you see the Chiefs defense matching up with the re-tooled offense the Texans will feature this year?
MV: DeAndre Hopkins is a real playmaker, and with Sean Smith suspended, he could have a big game. Outside of him, I can’t say I’m concerned. Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts are pros, but I don’t see them altering the game in a major way.
RG: What’s your opinion of the Texans offensive line and can they keep Justin Houston from taking over the game?
MV: Houston has a solid line, so I don’t see Houston going for a crazy afternoon. That said, he’s Justin Houston, just like J.J. Watt is J.J. Watt. Both will make some plays before the day is over.
RG: Is there anything Houston brings to the table that would really threaten the Chiefs and concern them?
MV: The front seven. Kansas City has a very mediocre offensive line. Reid knows this so I expect a ton of quick throws and screens, especially if Crennel is playing soft. If the Texans are going to win, they have to get to Smith.
RG: What does Houston have to do to win this contest?
MV: Get some big plays on offense/special teams and force a few turnovers. I don’t see Houston’s offense moving consistently against Kansas City. And while I believe Houston’s defense is very solid, I think the trio of Charles, Kelce and Maclin gets some points on the board.
RG: What does Kansas City have to do to win?
MV: Take care of the ball, convert on third down and protect Smith. If the Chiefs are successful in those areas, they win.
RG: Lastly, I predicted a 24-13 win for the Chiefs. I think Brian Hoyer will hold the team back and Alfred Blue is not a legitimate threat at running back.
MV: I’m going 20-9, Chiefs. I think the game is close most of the way, but I don’t see Houston scoring much.