Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs: Divisional Round Game Preview

The Houston Texans head out to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs for the NFL Divisional Round. Photo Credit: Angel Rick Leal

By Angel Rick Leal

Game Info
Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday – January 12 – 2:05 p.m.
TV: CBS
Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City, MO

Records Before Game 
Houston Texans (11-6)
Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

On Sunday the Houston Texans are scheduled to visit Arrowhead Stadium for the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs and the region is once again predicted to receive heavy snowfall all weekend long. For most of Saturday the Kansas City region has been placed under a winter storm warning with a mix of sleet, rain, and snow expected. Total snow accumulation could reach four to six inches. Fortunately the weather forecast for the game time at 2:05 p.m. CT on Sunday afternoon is partly cloudy with a temperature of 32 degrees with the wind around 11 m.p.h.  So what does all this mean?

The impact of cold weather on football games is significant. Icy conditions make it difficult to execute plays, a factor compounded by the joint stiffening cold air temperatures. A vast majority of stadiums still feature open roof constructions as well, which ensures that both players and fans alike are subjected to the will of Mother Nature. Just how cold can it get on gameday? Anyone who watched football in the late 60’s (not me because I wasn’t born till 69) might recall the “Ice Bowl,” a championship between the Packers and Cowboys where the temperature dropped to minus -13 degrees with a low wind chill of minus -48.  At these temperatures, everything becomes difficult resulting in constant loss of footing and plenty of turnovers. These fumbles wreak havoc on team strategies.  

The Kansas City Chiefs have been plagued with injuries all season long, losing key players left and right throughout the year for extended periods of time. Even in the postseason, the injury bug has continued to take its toll on the locker room at Arrowhead that was even recently deemed healthy.
On Wednesday, Chiefs Kingdom was surprised to hear that Travis Kelce had been limited in practice, dealing with what the injury report termed a knee injury. Being limited in a mid-week practice wasn’t great cause for alarm in the moment, but it was something to watch. On Thursday, Kelce was designated once again as limited in practice as the team prepares to host the Houston Texans, but even worse, he was joined by star defensive tackle Chris Jones. Jones, who has already missed three games this season with a groin injury, was flagged with a calf injury, giving fans further reason to worry about this Sunday’s matchup.

Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien has gotten his team to the playoffs in four out of his six years. They have gone 2-3 but never advanced past the divisional round. In their short franchise history, the Texans are 0-3 in divisional playoff games and 0-3 in road playoff games. The game is a matchup between two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL — Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. It also features two teams who have been in the playoffs plenty, but always seem to come up short. For the Chiefs, this is their sixth appearance in seven years under Reid. They are 2-5 in that time, with one of those wins coming over the Texans. Reid may be the best coach without a Super Bowl ring in the sport. He has won 207 games and but is 12-14 in the playoffs with the Eagles and Chiefs.

When everyone is healthy, the Texans have a good trio of receivers. You know about star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. He is complemented with deep-threat receivers Will Fuller and Kenny Stills. Fuller in particular has been crucial to Houston’s offensive success. They average 25.5 points when he plays and just 20 when he doesn’t. We saw his deep ability in the Week 6 matchup, in which he had multiple scoring opportunities that he couldn’t catch. Fuller, however, has been limited in this week’s practices with a lingering groin injury. He has has been listed as questionable for the game. One can expect Watt to see a marginal increase in his snaps. He says he feels good after coming back — after a few days of management for swelling — and is ready to go for Sunday against the Chiefs. Watt has had an extra day of rehab. The Texans have had an eight-day break between the Bills win and the game at Arrowhead Stadium. He was limited during Wednesday’s practice.

Prediction
Yes, the Chiefs lost to Houston at home earlier in the year; but many key players were unavailable and it was still only a one possession game. The Texans will have to be on point and make no mistakes to make it to the AFC Championship.

Final Score
Houston Texans – 28
Kansas City Chiefs – 27