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Riversview: Kansas City Chiefs At Houston Texans

Can the Texans beat the Chiefs? Will Frank Bush let them?

Of course, I knew I would get a game wrong at some point. You don't pick games for a "living" and not misinterpret something along the line. I can't say I expected the asskicking that the Giants left on us, but all the ingredients were there for such a thing to happen. The Texans (3-2) have an offense that is running half-steam at this point. Duane Brown is out, Andre Johnson is playing hurt, ditto Owen Daniels, and the playaction and screen games have gone in the toilet under new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.

Basically, what I'm saying is that this offense desperately needs a bye week. The coaches need a week to figure out a plan of attack, and instead they are going to face a hungry young defense looking to salvage a split of their two game road trip after falling just short against the Colts. Despite holding them to just 19 points. It might be a little early to be proclaiming this, but with games against Indianapolis, the Jets, and Baltimore still looming on the schedule, this game against the Chiefs (3-1) is practically a must-win for the Texans playoff chances. Losing all the goodwill of going 3-1 without Brian Cushing and then facing that schedule would be devastating. Proper amount of fear instilled in you? I don't need to ask that, you're probably a Texans fan. Then lets move on:

WHEN THE TEXANS ARE ON DEFENSE

The Texans will face an offense that is built to make it look good. The Chiefs are predominantly a running team, whilst the Texans are predominantly a run stopping team. Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell, despite the team being 18th in offensive pass DVOA, has completed just 55.8% of his passes. Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers have both looked dreadful in the early going, and the Chiefs best weapon is probably their tight end, Tony Moeaki. None of these receivers are really the burner type that can stretch a defense. Dexter McCluster might be, but he's not exactly a focal point of their offense just yet.

Of course, the real solutions to this problem fall to Frank Bush. Ever since the Redskins game, Bush has gone deep into the zone cover shell, even against teams without good quarterbacking, solely because he is scared of giving up the big play. While I think that's a noble strategy against Indianapolis, because Peyton will beat you deep, the simple fact of the matter is that most deep balls wind up being incompletes. Against this offense, with this quarterback and this set of wide receivers, the situation is begging for Bush to play up on the lines and dare them to beat the Texans deep. Ergo, the most important stat will be uncontested catches on screens and quick hitches. If you see in the area of ten or more of those given up, watch out, because the Chiefs are winning the game. To show how important I think this proposed defensive philosophy switch is to the Texans winning this game, lets double down: it's also the most important decision of the game. If the Texans let the Chiefs run wild underneath, then not only are they going to lose this game, they should probably just fire Frank Bush the day after and bring in someone during the bye week who can fix this mess.

WHEN THE TEXANS ARE ON OFFENSE

That was my more optimistic piece. Here's the pessimistic part: the Chiefs defense has been damn good so far. Glenn Dorsey and (especially) Tamba Hali are monsters. The Chiefs will get plenty of pass pressure as the Texans, without Mike Brisiel, are probably going to be suboptimal along the line. The only reason for optimism is that the Chiefs don't really have the dominant nose tackle that is the hallmark for teams whipping the Texans physically up front. Even still, the Chiefs front seven brings plenty of problems to the table for the Texans. If they can't establish the running game, they are in trouble.

Our most important matchup is Andre Johnson vs. Brandon Flowers. The young cornerback is blossoming and the Chiefs have been one of the very best teams in the NFL at defending number one wide receivers. A healthy Andre Johnson will have something to say in this game and lead the Texans offense down the field. A slightly hobbled Johnson, against a great cornerback, could spell doom for the passing game. Look for screens and quick drops to again be the order of the day and hope the Chiefs don't watch any tape from that Giants game.

PREDICTION

I think I went a bit too much with my heart last week whilst picking the Giants game. I won't make that mistake two weeks in a row: this team is out of sync offensively and I'm betting that Frank Bush won't have the stones to compensate on defense. Look for a shockingly low scoring affair, look for the Chiefs to be victorious, and look for the Gary Kubiak Firing Watch to run all bye week. Texans 14, Chiefs 17.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.