Week 7 Preview: Texans @ Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With the Houston Texans (2-4) turning to quarterback Case Keenum, it’s reasonable to expect the Chiefs defense will receive a heavy dose of running back Arian Foster.

On paper alone, the matchup favors the Texans, as Foster ranks third in the NFL in rushing (531 yards). Foster’s 714 total yards from scrimmage ranks second in the AFC to Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (775 yards).

Oct 13, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Mike DeVito (70) and strong safety Eric Berry (29) during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 24-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 13, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Mike DeVito (70) and strong safety Eric Berry (29) during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 24-7. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Additionally, the undefeated Chiefs rank 23rd against the run, allowing 116.7 yards rushing per game.

The numbers cause concern, but games aren’t played on paper.

The Chiefs have met their share of some of the NFL’s big-name running backs through six games and only one topped the 100-yard rushing mark.

Week One: Maurice Jones-Drew had 45 yards on 15 carries (3 yards per carry average), marking the second-lowest rushing total of his career where he recorded at least 15 carries.
Week Two: DeMarco Murray produced 25 yards on 12 carries (2.1 yards per carry)
Week Three: LeSean McCoy gained 158 yards on 20 carries (7.9 yards per carry)
Week Four: David Wilson rushed for 55 yards on 13 carries (4.2 yards per carry)
Week Five: Chris Johnson turned in a 17-yard effort on 10 carries (1.7 yards per carry)
Week Six: Darren McFadden, who had rushed for 100 yards in two previous meetings against the Chiefs, was limited to 53 yards on 16 attempts (3.3 yards per carry)

The rushing yards counting against the Chiefs are boosted by opposing quarterbacks, notably performances from Michael Vick (99), Ryan Fitzpatrick (50) and Terrelle Pryor (56).

Meanwhile, Chiefs defensive end Tyson Jackson said the team’s goal is to make an opposing offense a one-dimensional unit. Jackson added he believed the key to stopping an opponent’s featured running back this season has been an ability to get physical at the point of attack.

“That’s something we pride ourselves on, knocking offensive lineman into the backfield, create a new line of scrimmage,” Jackson said. “I think if we continue to do a good job of that with the front seven, we’ll continue to be successful.”

Still, Foster offers a challenge that Chiefs safety Quintin Demps is familiar with.

Demps, who played for the Texans from 2010-12, said he fully expects Foster to be the all-around player he knows, from blocking, receiving to rushing.

“He’s a complete back, so I don’t expect anything less,” Demps said.

But acquaintances aside between former teammates, Foster should expect a swarming attempt to stop him, much like the Chiefs defenders have done against other running backs this season.

“We all rally to the ball, everybody stays in their gap, the big guys up front got to get penetration,” Demps said. “It’s a team effort stopping the run in this league. You can’t stop the run with just your linebackers or defensive backs, you got to stop it with everybody. That’s our goal every week to run to the ball.”

Tale of the tape

Offense

• The Chiefs rank 12th in rushing (119 yards per game) and 26th in passing (207.3 yards per game).
• The Texans rank sixth in rushing (136.8 yards per game) and 14th in passing (258.8 yards per game).

Defense

• The Chiefs rank 23rd against the run (116.7 yards allowed per game) and third against the pass (189.7 allowed per game).
• The Texans rank 25th against the run (121.5 yards allowed per game) and first against the pass (131.3 yards allowed per game).

The last time

The Chiefs produced 417 yards of offense, but fell to the Texans in a 35-31 shootout at Reliant Stadium on Oct. 17, 2010.

Houston last visited Arrowhead Stadium on Sept. 26, 2004, resulting in a 24-12 victory.

The Texans hold the all-time edge in the series at 3-2 despite the Chiefs outscoring Houston by a 142-110 margin.

Did you know?

Should the Chiefs win Sunday, quarterback Alex Smith can tie former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Dieter Brock (1985) with the most consecutive wins to start a season in a signal caller’s first season with a team since 1970.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid is the first head coach in franchise history to start 6-0 in his first year with the team.

An unhappy sack machine

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt isn’t happy, as pointed out by The Kansas City Star’s Chiefs beat writer Terez Paylor.

And Watt’s frustrations were obvious during Wednesday’s media conference call.

Asked to assess his play in Week Six, Watt’s response went a different direction and set the tone of the conference call.

“Kansas City is a good football team,” he said. “We’re excited to go up there on the road, obviously in a tough environment, and play some good football.”

OK, what about Watt’s thoughts on what the Chiefs defense has accomplished through six games? Surely the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, who totaled 20 ½ sacks in 2012, had some deep appreciation.

“They’ve been doing a great job,” was Watt’s curt six-word response.

When asked to reflect on how tough the last month has been for a Texans team many NFL prognosticators and analysts picked as a potential Super Bowl team, Watt’s response went out into left field and sounded familiar.

“I’m really excited about an opportunity to go to Kansas City this weekend and play in a tough environment on the road, and look to get some momentum going our way and look to get a win,” he said.

The only thing missing from Wednesday’s conference call was NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus directing the media with, “Next question.”

Whether Watt’s apparent angst is taken out on the Chiefs remains to be seen, but he and the Texans’ struggles aren’t taken lightly.

Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said Watt is a “special player,” adding the offense must account for him on every play.

“You just have to understand where he’s going to line up and as many eyes and hands you can put on him, you put on him,” Pederson said. “He’s going to get his, that’s the bottom line, he’s going to get his, hopefully we get a few more and make a few plays.”

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles agreed.

“I think they are one of the toughest defenses,” Charles said. “Their record might not show it, but I think (this is a great test) to see where we really are. J.J. Watt can really corrupt a lineman and mess up the offense’s plays. We really have to put our hands on him.”

Speaking of sacks

The NFL took away a sack from the Chiefs’ Week Six 24-7 win against the Oakland Raiders, but the team’s 30 on the season still puts them on pace for 80, which would set an NFL record.

Still, the subtraction of linebacker Tamba Hali’s sack doesn’t lessen last week’s dominating performance of now nine sacks and three interceptions, which included a pick-six.

The numbers could be padded on Sunday, as Houston’s quarterbacks have gone down 17 times on the season.

But while records provide a source of bragging rights, the Chiefs have bigger goals in mind.

“You don’t, as a coach, ever sit down and say, ‘Hey I want to have this many sacks or that,’” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “You’re trying to find a way to win a game.”

Hali, the current AFC Defensive Player of the Week, echoed Sutton’s thoughts.

“We don’t set our goals like that,” Hali said. “We set our goals based on wins around here. We haven’t had enough of those in our past years so being able to accomplish those things, trying to get these wins, that’s huge.”

Quotable

Chiefs coach Andy Reid when asked what he would do differently when facing Texans defensive end J.J. Watt:

“If I have to go up against JJ Watt, we’re in trouble,” Reid said. “He’d slam me all over the field.”

Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali on being named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week:

“When one of us stands out, you just give credit back to the team and the defense,” Hali said.

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who recently battled blisters on both feet, when asked why everybody is making fun of his feet.

“I don’t know,” Charles said. “Maybe they want my feet; maybe they want to do what I can do. I’m just glad I got my feet.”

Chiefs safety Quintin Demps on facing his former team:

“I got a little extra in me for these guys,” Demps said. “I’m excited to play them and I got something to prove to the whole league, not just them.”

Prediction

Sunday has the feel of Week Five’s game against the Titans.

So look for a physical contest and a battle of field position with sluggish offense, as both teams possess an elite defense, elite punters (Shane Lechler for Houston; Dustin Colquitt for Kansas City) and sputtering offenses.

Despite the Texans losing four straight, they still rank first in total defense (252.8 yards allowed per game) and are No. 1 against the pass (131.3 yards per game).

The Texans are likely to lean heavily on the league’s sixth-ranked running offense (136.8 yards per game) anchored by Arian Foster. And this is especially true when considering the Texans are rolling with quarterback Case Keenum, who hasn’t thrown an NFL pass.

Clearly not a recipe for success, as the Chiefs rank first in turnover margin with a plus-12; the Texans are 31st at minus-12.

Ultimately, the Chiefs are on a roll and Arrowhead Stadium has its swag back after setting the world record as the loudest outdoor stadium.

The noise affected quarterbacks Tony Romo, Eli Manning and Terrelle Pryor in recent games.

Good luck to Keenum.

Outcome: Chiefs 16, Texans 6

——-

Friday’s official NFL Injury Report, as released by the league:

Houston Texans

Out: LB Tim Dobbins (hamstring), QB Matt Schaub (ankle, foot)
Probable: G Brandon Brooks (toe), T Duane Brown (toe), LB Brian Cushing (knee), RB Arian Foster (thumb, chest, hamstring), WR Andre Johnson (shin), RB Greg Jones (ankle, illness), WR Keshawn Martin (shoulder), CB Brice McCain (knee), C Chris Myers (biceps), T Derek Newton (knee), S Eddie Pleasant (toe), WR DeVier Posey (achilles), LB Darryl Sharpton (foot), G Wade Smith (knee), RB Ben Tate (elbow)

Practice Report

Did not practice

Wednesday: LB Tim Dobbins (hamstring), QB Matt Schaub (ankle, foot), LB Darryl Sharpton (foot), G Wade Smith (knee)
Thursday: LB Tim Dobbins (hamstring), RB Arian Foster (thumb, chest, hamstring), RB Greg Jones (ankle, illness), QB Matt Schaub (ankle, foot), LB Darryl Sharpton (foot)
Friday: LB Tim Dobbins (hamstring), QB Matt Schaub (ankle, foot)

Limited participation

Wednesday: G Brandon Brooks (toe), T Duane Brown (toe), WR Andre Johnson (shin), RB Greg Jones (ankle), WR Keshawn Martin (shoulder)
Thursday: T Duane Brown (toe), WR Andre Johnson (shin), WR Keshawn Martin (shoulder), G Wade Smith (knee)
Friday: RB Greg Jones (ankle, illness), WR Keshawn Martin (shoulder), LB Darryl Sharpton (foot), G Wade Smith (knee)

Full participation

Wednesday: LB Brian Cushing (knee), RB Arian Foster (thumb, chest), CB Brice McCain (knee), C Chris Myers (biceps), T Derek Newton (knee), S Eddie Pleasant (toe), WR DeVier Posey (achilles), RB Ben Tate (elbow)
Thursday: G Brandon Brooks (toe), LB Brian Cushing (knee), CB Brice McCain (knee), C Chris Myers (biceps), T Derek Newton (knee), S Eddie Pleasant (toe), WR DeVier Posey (achilles), RB Ben Tate (elbow)
Friday: G Brandon Brooks (toe), T Duane Brown (toe), LB Brian Cushing (knee), RB Arian Foster (thumb, chest, hamstring), WR Andre Johnson (shin), CB Brice McCain (knee), C Chris Myers (biceps), T Derek Newton (knee), S Eddie Pleasant (toe), WR DeVier Posey (achilles), RB Ben Tate (elbow)

Kansas City Chiefs

Questionable: S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)
Probable: T Branden Albert (knee, elbow), G Jeff Allen (groin, hand), G Jon Asamoah (knee), WR Donnie Avery (shoulder), TE Kevin Brock (shoulder), P Dustin Colquitt (right knee), TE Anthony Fasano (knee, ankle), CB Brandon Flowers (knee), DT Jaye Howard (not injury related), LB Dezman Moses (toe), DT Dontari Poe (ankle), FB Anthony Sherman (knee)

Practice Report

Did not practice

Wednesday: S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)
Thursday: DT Jaye Howard (not injury related), S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)

Limited participation

Wednesday: TE Anthony Fasano (ankle, knee), CB Brandon Flowers (knee)
Thursday: TE Anthony Fasano (ankle, knee), CB Brandon Flowers (knee)
Friday: TE Anthony Fasano (knee, ankle), CB Brandon Flowers (knee), S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)

Full participation

Wednesday: LT Branden Albert (knee, elbow), G Jeff Allen (groin, hand), G Jon Asamoah (knee), WR Donnie Avery (shoulder), TE Kevin Brock (shoulder), P Dustin Colquitt (knee), LB Dezman Moses (toe), DT Dontari Poe (ankle), FB Anthony Sherman (knee)
Thursday: T Branden Albert (knee, elbow), G Jeff Allen (groin, hand), G Jon Asamoah (knee), WR Donnie Avery (shoulder), TE Kevin Brock (shoulder), P Dustin Colquitt (right knee), LB Dezman Moses (toe), DT Dontari Poe (ankle), FB Anthony Sherman (knee)
Friday: T Branden Albert (knee, elbow), G Jeff Allen (groin, hand), G Jon Asamoah (knee), WR Donnie Avery (shoulder), TE Kevin Brock (shoulder), P Dustin Colquitt (right knee), DT Jaye Howard (not injury related), LB Dezman Moses (toe), DT Dontari Poe (ankle), RB Anthony Sherman (knee)

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