Scouring the Internet for useless and pointless information to embark a different take on the Chiefs/Titans match-up for Sunday, I found this interesting fact about Houston. They've won only two of their last ten games. This interesting little stat does include the 2003 exhibition schedule where they lost all four games. But they stand 2-5 over their last seven regular season games.
Their last two regular season victories were the home opener in Miami this year and their final road game in 2002 against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. That was a shocker to say the least and so was their opening day victory over Miami.
Before we anoint them a challenge for the Chiefs it needs to be noted that this is a second year franchise with a second year quarterback who took a beating last year. Texans quarterback David Carr spent more time on the turf last year than George Toma spent grooming stadiums his entire career.
Carr was very effective against the Dolphins for the prime reason they gave him no respect. The Saints gave him plenty and he had one of his worst days as a professional quarterback just a week later. The Chiefs will not take him or the Texans for granted on Sunday.
You can say what you want about Texans head coach Dom Capers. He's a defensive genius but he's never been able to master running an efficient and solid offensive attack in Houston. Yes they are one year removed from the expansion class but the Chiefs will be aggressive and very determined to knock Carr onto the Reliant Stadium canvas.
Defensive tackle Ryan Sims led the Chiefs with two of the teams four sacks last week against Pittsburgh. He was also responsible for the other two sacks. The Steelers were forced to double team Sims and that allowed Erick Hicks and Gary Stills the opportunity to get their first sacks of the season.
Sims along with Hicks, Vonnie Holliday and John Browning have been getting significant pressure on the quarterback in their first two games. The Chiefs currently stand #1 in the AFC against the run and the Texans can't run the ball.
They are relying on veteran Stacey Mack and rookie Domanick Davis from LSU. Davis has been impressive in spurts but the Texans have been unable to mount any significant running game this year. The Chiefs have made LaDainian Tomlinson and Amos Zereoue look like rookies and it's doubtful that Houston is going to rush for more than 100 yards against the Chiefs stellar run defense.
This will force Carr to make plays that might not be open. The Chiefs lead the AFC with five interceptions and they should raise that number against Carr if they can creat havoc in the pocket.
Though he does have two capable receivers in Jabar Gaffney and Corey Bradford, without a threat of the run Carr could be running for his life. The Chiefs did yield Pittsburgh 320 net passing yards but they intercepted Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox three times including one for a touchdown by safety Jerome Woods.
Regardless of what the defense does, the Chiefs still have the advantage on offense and with their special teams. Dante Hall was all-world last week in returning a kick-off 100 yards for a touchdown and setting up their third offensive touchdown with long punt return.
Priest Holmes was banged up after the Steelers loss but he'll be ready to play on Sunday. The Chiefs will be very aggressive offensively and should be able to create some long runs. The Texans lost defensive tackle Seth Payne with an ACL tear. He's lost for the season. Defensive end Gary Walker is also banged up. He might play but he won't be anywhere near 100%.
The Steelers gave the Chiefs everything they had last week and Kansas City still won by 21 points. The Texans run the same 3-4 defensive scheme as the Steelers but they don't have the horses. Though they can be pesky at time and momentum is a powerful motivation tool, they've shown little ability to slow down the run.
Their run defense was somewhat effective against Ricky Williams in game one. But that was with Payne and a healthy Walker on the defensive line. The Saints offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and the Texans were powerless to do anything about stopping New Orleans dominance offensively.
The Chiefs must concentrate on getting their air arsenal flying again and Trent Green needs to shake off some of the rust he's displayed the first two weeks of the season. Tight end Tony Gonzalez, slowed by knee and ankle injuries, needs to have a big game. If he can get some yardage over the middle, the Chiefs should be able to be even more explosive with both their running and passing game.
Holmes can't carry the ball 25-30 times this week and the Chiefs know they have to get their passing game clicking. The Chiefs have already shown the ability to use wide receivers Johnnie Morton and Eddie Kennison more often. That was missing last year. They need to develop some plays for Marc Boerigter and Dante Hall.
If the Chiefs get any kind of lead in the first half, then they should go for the kill in the third quarter so they can rest Holmes. The Chiefs gave some significant time to Larry Johnson in practice this week and he could be active for the Texans game.
Derrick Blaylock is the back-up for Holmes but the Chiefs need to get Johnson some work in a real game. Before the season is out, they are going to need Johnson. He's more skilled and able to cutback against NFL defenses than Blaylock.
Blaylock has the speed to get outside but he's not a punishing runner. He's just a grade or two above Johnson in pass protection and that's what has given him the edge thus far. But Blaylock has difficulty cutting back and changing directions. As a running back you must have that ability. He does a decent job waiting on his blockers. But Johnson is better in the open field as he showed in the exhibition game against Seattle back in August.
The Texans on the road is a perfect litmus test for the Chiefs who lost six of eight road games last year. This will be the Texans 2003 home opener so the Reliant Stadium crowd will be loud and active in trying to disrupt the Chiefs on offense.
If the Chiefs are on their game from the onset, the noise should have little impact or cause any concern for the Chiefs provided they stay focused and disciplined. The Texans are over-matched and playing one of the best teams in the NFL. The Chiefs need to jump out early and put this dog to bed by halftime.
*Houston was the former home of the Oilers. Dating back to he early 60's the Chiefs held a 23-17 advantage during the regular season. For those who remember, they also have a 2-0 record against Houston in the post-season. They won the AFL title game in 1962 and followed that up with a win that advanced them to the 1993 AFC Championship game by defeating Houston 28-20. In that game the Chiefs sacked Warren Moon nine times as Marcus Allen and Joe Montana led the Chiefs to their last franchise playoff victory.
*Former Iowa State Cyclone and Kansas City Chief, J.J. Moses returns punts and kick-offs for the Texans. His former teammate Dante Hall leads the NFL in all return categories. Dick Vermeil credits Moses for pushing Hall during the two training camps he spent in Kansas City. Sunday Moses hopes to give the Texans the spark that Hall gave his team last week against the Steelers.
*Texans cornerbacks Marcus Coleman and Aaron Glenn will be staring in their 121st and 139th games respectively. Though neither is a shut down corner, they can disrupt the timing of the Chiefs receivers by playing bump and run coverage.
*The Chiefs have six of their last eight September games. They are 2-0 in the AFC West and are tied with Denver for the division lead entering week #3. The Broncos play host to the Raiders (1-1) on Monday Night and the Chargers (0-2) take on Baltimore Sunday afternoon in San Diego.
* Reliant Stadium and the city of Houston will be host for Super Bowl XXXVIII on February 1, 2004.
Fearless Prediction: Kansas City 37 - Houston 3
Season Record: 2-0
2003 Game Recaps
Week #1: Chiefs 27 - Chargers 14
Week #2: Chiefs 41 - Steelers 20