Pre-Snap Read: Chiefs vs. Texans

Don't make the mistake of looking past the Houston Texans because of their 1-8 record, this team is no pushover. Six of their eight losses have come at the hands of Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Indianapolis, a literal "who's who" of the hottest teams in the NFL.

Although they possess more losses than any other team in the National Football League this season the Texans have yet to lose their resiliency. In their last four games Houston has been highly competitive and they are playing better football with each passing week. The Chiefs on the other hand appear to be heading in the opposite direction and this is not the time experience a slump. At 5-4 the Chiefs cannot afford to lose another game to a conference opponent so for all intensive purposes the playoffs start now.

Chiefs Offense vs. Texans Defense
Last weekends loss to Buffalo shattered any hope of Kansas City's once powerful offense reclaiming its form of the past four years. The offensive line had its most dismal performance of the past two decades as their missed blocks and penalties crippled every attempt to move the ball. At the games conclusion their inability to protect quarterback Trent Green resulted in six sacks, four turnovers, and a lousy three points.

Kansas City has to figure out a way to improve the blocking on the edge of their offense if they don't want a repeat performance of their effort in Buffalo. The Texan's have three ideal linemen for their 3-4 scheme in Seth Payne, Gary Walker and Robaire Smith. Each of them can create the same sort of problems for the offensive line as San Diego did three weeks ago. With Payne over Wiegmann, Walker over Welbourn, and Smith over Black each one of the Texan defensive linemen is capable of dominating the Chief lined up across from them.

The offensive linemen just aren't failing in pass protection, they are failing in the running game as well. Defensive ends are consistently getting by the offensive tackles and coming straight up field which closes off the perimeter. This forces the offense to try to run inside but that too becomes a problem as defenses are running eight man fronts and placing their 350lb nose tackles over Kansas City's 280lb center. Now the center requires the assistance of a guard which only leaves the second guard and a fullback to block the five remaining defenders for the tail back.

Normally an offense will try to counter act this sort of thing by spreading the defense out with three or four wide receivers and attacking single coverage down the field. With the Chiefs however defenses aren't buying it because they know their tackles won't hold up long enough for Trent Green to set his feet and complete a deep pass.

At this point the Chiefs have only one option and that is to come out in a jumbo package and run the ball right in to the teeth of Houston's defense. Two backs, two tight ends, and a heavy dose of Larry Johnson should be Kansas City's one and only game plan going in to Reliant Stadium. Although the Texans are the 32nd ranked rushing defense in the league the Chiefs cannot expect to simply show up and run the ball at will. Kansas City will still need to make the appropriate changes to their offense to have a successful running game.

Remember, the Chiefs were unable to take advantage of the 31st ranked team one week ago in Buffalo so why would they all of a sudden have an edge in Houston? Yes Larry Johnson ran for 130 yards but those yards are meaningless unless they result in points. Regardless of stats, the Chiefs haven't been able to run the ball well when they've needed to. For the most part they have been awful when running the ball inside of the 20's and their success has been limited on short yardage third down conversions.

If the Chiefs want to utilize a passing game they need to get Tony Gonzalez, Kris Wilson, Jason Dunn, Tony Richardson and Larry Johnson involved in short and intermediate routes. They won't have the time to throw deep down field though they might find it tempting with starting left corner Demarcus Faggins out of the lineup. Still, sending Green on a 5 step drop is a bad idea and every time he does it he runs the risk of joining Priest Holmes on the IR.

Bottom Line - The Chiefs are going to have to run the ball 40 times to win this game. Al Saunders cannot give up on the run as early as he did against Buffalo. There should be no reason to get cute with the offense this week, just pound the ball three to four yards at a time and wear Houston's defense down.

Chiefs Defense vs. Texans Offense
For the second week in a row the Chiefs defense will face a struggling offensive line that has been shuffled around due to injury. In the fourth quarter of last weeks game Houston's starting right tackle Todd Wade suffered a season ending knee which has now changed the continuity of the right side of their line.

Former Kansas City Chiefs first round draft Victor Riley has been moved to Wade's position at right tackle even though he started the season as Houston's left tackle. As it turns out Riley will be playing next to right guard Zach Wiegert who is coming off of an ankle injury and is seeing his first action in several weeks. It will be interesting to see how well the two can communicate and handle stunts to their side. Look for Gunther Cunningham to slide Jared Allen over to the right side on several occasions to give them a test.

Running back Domanick Davis will finally be returning to the lineup after missing Houston's last two games with a knee injury. Davis is expected to start though he might have picked the wrong week to do it. The Chiefs haven't allowed a 100 yard rusher in 16 games and their streak isn't likely to end against Houston.

David Carr and Andre Johnson can be a dangerous duo in the passing game and the Chiefs will have to know where Johnson is lined up at all times. The Chiefs defense cannot afford to be burned on two big plays like they were last week so this means the safeties need to be on their toes. The Chiefs might play more cover two with their safeties and man coverage underneath just to make sure they aren't victimized by the big play again. The Chiefs pass defense is still ranked 29th in the league but they have played much better then that in recent weeks.

Bottom Line - Carr has been sacked 46 times this season and the Chiefs need to keep him on that trend. As bad as the Chiefs offense has been they could use a couple of defensive turnovers for touchdowns and the best way to do that is create havoc and force Carr in to making mistakes.

Special Teams - The Chiefs could use a big day from Dante Hall as points are coming more and scarce these days. The Chiefs kickoff coverage units will need to elevate their game this week as they try to contain the lightning quick Jerome Mathis who is a dangerous kick return specialist in his own right.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS DT Ryan Sims - Foot – Out
FS Jerome Woods - Hamstring – Out
T Willie Roaf - Hamstring – Out
T Kevin Sampson - Shoulder – Questionable
CB Dexter McCleon - Groin – Questionable
DE Carlos Hall - Thigh – Questionable
WR Sammie Parker - Knee – Questionable
DT John Browning -Knee – Probable
WR Dante Hall - Knee – Probable

T Todd Wade - Knee – Out
S Jason Simmons - Hamstring – Out
CB Demarcus Faggins -Hamstring – Doubtful
WR Jerome Mathis - Hamstring – Questionable
RB Domanick Davis - Knee – Questionable
WR Andre Johnson - Knee – Probable
DE Gary Walker - Shoulder – Probable
C Todd Washington - Neck – Probable
G Zach Wiegert - Ankle – Probable

2005 NFL Rankings
Total Offense: 352.4 (9)
Rush Offense: 131.2 (7)
Pass Offense: 221.2 (14)
Total Defense: 339.0 (25)
Rush Defense: 90.9 (8)
Pass Defense: 248.1 (29)
Turnover Ratio: +3 (11)
Pts./Game: 22.1 (15)
Opp. Pts./Game: 21.9 (21)

Total Offense: 215.9 (31)
Rush Offense: 109.2 (17)
Pass Offense: 106.7 (31)
Total Defense: 370.8 (29)
Rush Defense: 153.3 (32)
Pass Defense: 217.4 (22)
Turnover Ratio: -5 (22)
Pts./Game: 13.8 (30)
Opp. Pts./Game: 27.4 (30) Top Stories