After the Chiefs’ shocking home loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, Kansas City’s Super Bowl odds took a giant dip, going from 7-2 to 6-1, according to theScore. It was their third loss in the last four primetime games at Arrowhead going back to last year’s losses to the Patriots (AFC Championship) and to the Chargers (Week 15). The loudest stadium in the world doesn’t look unconquerable anymore.
Neither does that offense. Patrick Mahomes started his MVP defense in MVP fashion, with his NFL-leading 1831 passing yards on pace to shatter Peyton Manning’s record. However, his running game faded after Damien Williams’ injury. Mahomes lost a main weapon in Tyreek Hill and has done a tremendous job with Micole Hardman and Byron Pringle. Pringle caught the only KC touchdown against the Colts and recorded 103 yards through the air.
The defense has also been a dynamic part of the conversations around the AFC West champions. It’s had its improvements, an evidence for which was the 19 points allowed to an offensive unit that scores 22.6 a game (15th league-wide). Tyron Mathieu put on a very strong performance on Sunday with 4 tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception.
The defensive line didn’t play to its end of the deal in what was a good defensive day for Kansas City. It’s not been able to hold back the opponent’s game on both fronts. The unit has recorded just 11 sacks, ranking 20th in the league, in addition to Marlon Mack’s big game, rushing for 132 yards. The only Colts touchdown was also on the ground, a 1-yard Jacoby Brissett rush.
In a Sunday afternoon game they’ll have to face one of the pleasant surprises of the AFC through the first five weeks of football – a Houston Texans team that has seen Deshaun Watson working with an impressive wide receiving core. His latest heroics included 5 touchdown passes in a 53-32 win on the road in Atlanta.
A career day for Will Fuller V was just the cherry on the top for an excellent offense. Moreover, their ground game doesn’t grab the attention because of the “RB by committee” distribution between Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. However, Houston is tenth in rushing yards per game with 129.4.
The Chiefs’ struggles against the run should be another encouraging sign for an already promising unit. If the Texans utilize Hyde as much as they did in their last game, they could have even bigger success. It’s fair to say, though, that while the Chiefs are having their front seven struggling, the Falcons defense all-around is much worse than KC’s.
It’s also going to be a game that showcases if the offensive line will make its success a constant. Watson didn’t drop back even once against the Falcons after 4 games in which he was sacked 18 times. His ability to run the ball successfully has gone as far as to help him master the craft of keeping plays alive, making a big deference in comparison to his previous two seasons in the league. It’s noteworthy how efficient and clean his play was, throwing just 5 incomplete passes and a pick, while making 33 attempts. With a solid running game, that could be even more effective – a great example of that are the 49ers.
The defense has crawled its way up and is on the verge of living back up to its reputation. The Texans’ biggest defensive woe has been in the passing game and could be considered a mismatch against the top air raid with 356 yards a game by Mahomes, who has handled a shorthanded offensive situation.
A running game that had its problems even before being held back by a regressing offensive line, it’s be no wonder if we see the Chiefs fall out of the top of the AFC mountain and that would probably take another Mahomes miracle not to happen. But the clash against the Texans, albeit a very challenging matchup, is in the balance of the Texans secondary. The numbers show they aren’t ready to take that step forward.
We could be not so far away from the Chiefs secondary regressing even more and costing them big time. That, balanced with improvement on the ground, could see the Texans taking advantage of such woes for a second week in a row.
However, Houston’s secondary is on its downside and Watson’s linemen cannot be trusted even after their latest display. Mahomes doesn’t need a lot of time to throw and the Texans might not be able to handle that while the offense slows down. 33-26 Kansas City.