4 keys to success for the Houston Texans in the divisional round vs. KC Chiefs
By Saheel Momin
While the Houston Texans came back to win an improbable game vs. the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night, there are many things the Texans have to clean up before their divisional matchup against the Chiefs.
Looking back at the win, Deshaun Watson played a pivotal part for the team to advance in the NFL playoffs. Buffalo came out swinging early, but the Texans’ defense made big plays down the stretch of the game to give the offense a chance to put some points up. Running backs, Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson, made crucial plays to set the Texans up to be in a great position in the second half. Hyde’s touchdown gave Houston a lead late in the fourth quarter and gave them the momentum they needed.
Johnson also converted an incredible third and 18 for a first down to extend the drive and eventually allow the Texans to score a game-winning field goal in overtime. These two pickups for the Texans have proved plenty of times to come through this season. However, Watson’s magic in the second half was the biggest reason the Texans pulled off a 22-19 victory.
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Going on the road in the playoffs is never easy, and the Texans will need to stay focused for 60 minutes not to have to play catch up to stay alive late in the game. The Texans finished the 2019 season with a 5-3 record on the road, including an impressive win against the Chiefs in Week 6.
Here’s what the Texans have to do to secure a win in KC:
Improve Pass Protection
Watson was sacked seven times and took 12 hits vs. Buffalo. The offensive line has taken leaps this season, but Houston has to clean this up against the Chiefs’ front seven. Although it’s fair to point out, Watson played a part in the high sack number by holding the football too long, but his ability to extend plays can pay off as it did against the Bills.
Get The Run Game Going
Carlos Hyde had an impressive 2019 campaign. He rushed for 1,070 yards and 6 TD’s this season, so getting him involved will be critical for the offense. It will also ease the pressure off of Deshaun Watson in avoiding having to throw too many passes and taking big hits. Duke Johnson had some impressive carries in the wild-card win, so look for him to step up in the run game.
Against the Chiefs in Week 6, Hyde and Johnson combined for 31 carries for 150 rushing yards and a touchdown. Watson also had success running the football with ten carries for 42 yards and two touchdowns.
Secondary needs to play better
This week is going to be a challenge for the Texans’ secondary. Bradley Roby, Gareon Conley, and Vernon Hargreaves III have been decent for the Texans, but they will have their hands full against the Chiefs.
Justin Reid and Jahleel Addae have been good on the back end of the defense but will also have to play big with the ability of the Chiefs to get yards after a catch and throwing deep to their speedy receivers. Roby is the best-equipped cornerback to match up with Tyreek Hill in certain situations because he is the Texans’ fastest corner. If the Texans’ defense can control the 15-20+ yard plays, then they will be in great shape.
Limit Patrick Mahomes’ Ability To Use His Legs
The Texans’ front seven will have to be aware of Patrick Mahomes’ ability to use his legs and to create big plays. It’s almost impossible to stop that from happening, but providing pressure can limit those kinds of plays.
When Romeo Crennel was asked about Mahomes,’ he said, “He’s got a great arm, he’s mobile, he can run. He’s confident in his ability of what’s around him”. The Texans’ defense will have to play lights out to stop Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense.
The Texans have never booked a ticket to the AFC championship before. If things go right Sunday afternoon, they can have a historic run that’s never been done before.