Who will prevail? The Chiefs or Texans?

What the Chiefs must do to win:

Convert on third down. During this past regular season, the Chiefs were the best team at converting on third downs, getting a first down on 48% of their third-down attempts. The Texans’ defense was the worst defense on third downs, allowing 48% of third downs to be converted for a first down. This is a huge advantage for the Chiefs and a huge key for the Chiefs to win this game. 

Start the game off strong. In the first half of the wild card game between the Bills and Texans, it looked like the Bills would win the game. The Texans got off to a very slow start against the Bills by going into halftime being down 13-0. Houston mounted a comeback to win that game. Last year in the wild card round, the Texans were down 21-0 at halftime against the Indianapolis Colts. Houston is clearly a second-half team. Kansas City cannot get conservative if they get out to a lead. If the Chiefs’ dominant offense can get off to a strong start, it will help them succeed in this divisional game.

Focus on J.J. Watt. The Texans don’t have any other great pass-rushers, and Whitney Mercilus was the only player with more than four sacks during the regular season. They must contain a banged-up J.J. Watt and do what we do best: pass.  Patrick Mahomes is 100% and the offensive line shouldn’t have any trouble.

Let the Cheetah loose. Tyreek Hill has been a key factor to the Chiefs’ offense the past few years. It has been evident that when Tyreek gets going, the offense starts rolling. Hill leads the league in big plays and can break a defense in any given moment. Hill has been a consistent X-Factor for the Chiefs the past few seasons. They have finished with an 11-5 record or better every season he has gone for 1,000+ receiving yards.

Derrick and Dylan’s prediction: Chiefs 35, Texans 23

What the Texans must do to win:

Take advantage of their healthy defense. In Week 8 against the Oakland Raiders, dangerous defensive end J.J. Watt suffered a pectoral injury that most thought would end his season, but he healed quickly and was ready for the first round of the playoffs against the Buffalo Bills. While the Texans started off slowly, a third-quarter sack from Watt became a game-changer for the Texans team and that’s exactly what he needs to do against the Chiefs. Along with Watt, safety Jahleel Addae, who suffered an Achilles injury, and cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who suffered a hamstring injury, will be active for the playoff game against the Chiefs. That will give the defense a leg up.

Keep Mahomes inside the pocket. There’s no doubt that Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a major asset to their offense with a talent for escaping the pocket and making unbelievable plays, so the Texans’ defense needs to limit Mahomes’ time on the field. By getting Mahomes off the field that opens the door for Houston’s quarterback, Deshaun Watson, to get the ball down the field, and with veteran wide receiver Will Fuller healthy for the playoffs, the Texans’ offense could be a real threat. 

Protect the quarterback. The Texans’ offensive line struggled last week against the fifth-ranked Buffalo Bills defense. The pocket seemed to collapse quickly, forcing Watson to make quick decisions with the ball. This being only being his second year as starting quarterback, he tends to struggle with quick outs. The offensive line needs to stand their ground and give Watson time to make big plays to win the game. 

Paige’s Prediction: Texans 24, Chiefs 21

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