Chiefs prepare to face a different Texans team
HOUSTON — The Houston Texans certainly aren’t dwelling on their 30-0 wild-card playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs as they prepare to face them again Sunday.
However, it’s impossible to forget the embarrassing home defeat in January in their first playoff game since 2012.
"When that was our last loss of last season, it’s a tough one," Houston’s J.J. Watt said. "It’s definitely a little bit on your mind, but I think it’s a new year, new season. We’re really excited about this one."
Though that game wasn’t very long ago, a lot has changed for the Texans since. The biggest difference is an upgrade at quarterback in Brock Osweiler after Brian Hoyer had five turnovers in the playoff loss. Houston also added running back Lamar Miller and drafted receiver Will Fuller in the first round to add more weapons to an offense featuring DeAndre Hopkins.
"They’re a better football team now than when we played them the last time, and they are healthier," Kansas City coach Andy Reid said. "They’ve added some new additions, so I think we’re going up against a better football team."
This will be the third time these teams have met in just more than a year after they opened the season against each other in 2015. The fact that all three games have been in Houston adds to the oddity.
Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith talked about how often Houston has been on the schedule.
"There has been a lot of history," Smith said. "Anytime you get that, it certainly carries with it a little more juice, for sure. Third time in a year, there is a lot of familiarity there and a lot of history. I’m sure the intensity will be high."
The Chiefs have won three in a row against the Texans and have won a franchise record 11 straight regular-season games.
Kansas City rallied from a 21-point deficit for a 33-27 overtime win against San Diego in the opener. Houston got a 23-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.
Some things to know about Sunday’s game:
WATT GETTING BACK TO FORM: Watt started the opener despite missing all of training camp and the entire preseason after surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back in July. He wasn’t quite back to form against the Bears. However, he’s encouraged by his progress and is looking forward to doing more on Sunday.
"As the game went on I started to knock the rust off, and I feel, even in practice, you can just feel it day by day it starts to come back, and (I feel) a little bit more like myself each day," Watt said.
FILLING IN FOR CHARLES: Spencer Ware powered Kansas City’s running game last week with Jamaal Charles still out after last year’s knee surgery. Ware had 70 yards rushing and 129 yards receiving against the Chargers. Though Ware will likely get most of the carries, the Chiefs also plan to give carries to Charcandrick West and Knile Davis against the Texans.
Reid raved about Ware’s development.
"He’s a tough kid and put in a good offseason, so now it’s just a matter of doing it week in and week out," Reid said. "He hasn’t had to do that."
FULLER’S BIG DEBUT: There was no rookie learning curve for Fuller. The 21st overall draft pick became the first player in franchise history to have 100 yards receiving in a debut with 107 and a touchdown against the Bears. The former Notre Dame standout, who ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the combine, wowed with his speed on Sunday.
"He’d probably match against anybody," Reid said. "He can go get it, and they use him on some quick screen things, but I think the thing that jumps out when you watch him is his down the field speed. He can run."
LIMITING KELCE: Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce has been a big problem for the Texans in his two career games against them. Kelce had six receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns in last season’s opener, adding eight receptions for 128 yards in the playoff win in January.
Houston coach Bill O’Brien said that his size (6-foot-5, 255 pounds) and strength make him tough to contain.
"You’re never going to have a guy on him in man-to-man coverage that is as big as him," O’Brien said. "You have to figure out ways to cover this guy and mix it up on him."