Chiefs

Chiefs at Texans: Scouting report for Sunday’s season opener

Houston Texans QB Brian Hoyer handed off to running back Alfred Blue during the preseason.
Houston Texans QB Brian Hoyer handed off to running back Alfred Blue during the preseason. AP

When the Chiefs run

EDGE >> TEXANS

At 28 years old, Jamaal Charles remains an elite back. His burst and vision remains a cut above. The only concern is his ability to stay healthy, as he was banged up all of last year. But that should not be a problem this week because he took on a lighter workload this preseason. The Chiefs will need him to be at his best, too, because the offensive line is not yet settled. The left side looks solid, as guard Ben Grubbs and tackle Donald Stephenson worked well together, but center to right tackle features players who didn’t start at those positions a year ago. The Texans’ front seven features some excellent players in mammoth nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

Chiefs’ top rusher

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

Jamaal Charles

206

1,033

5.0

9

Note: All statistics from 2014 regular season

When the Chiefs pass

EDGE >> CHIEFS

The Chiefs’ passing game figures to be much stronger this year, thanks to the addition of receiver Jeremy Maclin, who should help open up an offense that already features an array of talented skill players in Charles and Travis Kelce. But the offensive line remains a concern here, too. The Chiefs could use quick passes, screens and packaged plays as a way to negate the potential destruction that the Texans’ pass rush, led by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, could inflict. Reid has shown ability to do that on many occasions.

Chiefs’ top QB

C

A

Yds.

TD-I

Alex Smith

303

464

3,265

18-6

Chiefs’ top WR

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

Jeremy Maclin

85

1,318

15.5

10

When the Texans run

EDGE >> TEXANS

The Texans will be without star rusher Arian Foster, who is rehabbing a groin injury. And while Texans were one of the league’s best rushing teams a year ago (fifth in yards per game) as opposed to the Chiefs, who were one of the league’s worst against the run (28th), it’s important to note that star inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and stout defensive end Mike DeVito — who are both returning to the fold after season-ending injuries — will beef up a defensive front that is fired up to prove it’s not as bad against the run as it showed last year.

Texans’ top rusher

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

Alfred Blue

169

528

3.1

2

When the Texans pass

EDGE >> CHIEFS

Quarterback Brian Hoyer might end up being a nice option for coach Bill O’Brien, but he’s making his first Texans start against a Chiefs defense that can bring it. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston are premier pass rushers, and they add juice to a unit that finished fifth in the league in sacks a year ago. It’s looking like left tackle Duane Brown (hand) will play, which is a big boost, but the Chiefs’ pass rush should shield their young-but-talented corners some from the dynamic big-play ability of DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins and make life difficult for Hoyer.

Texans’ top QB

C

A

Yds.

TD-I

Brian Hoyer

242

438

3,326

12-13

Texans’ top WR

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

DeAndre Hopkins

76

1,210

15.9

6

Special teams

EDGE >> CHIEFS

This game could be decided right here. The Chiefs have the edge in the return game, as they ranked near the top of the league in kick and punt return average while the Texans ranked near the bottom. Based on last year, the Texans also have the clear edge on kickoffs and placekicking. The punting battle is close, but the Chiefs’ Dustin Colquitt was one of the league leaders in punts downed inside the 20. That, plus the fact the Chiefs’ coverage units allowed lower kick and punt-return averages than Houston did a year ago, gives them the edge.

Coaching

EDGE >> CHIEFS

Bill O’Brien went 9-7 last year in his inaugural campaign with the Texans, but Andy Reid has a long track record of winning, with a 150-105 career record in 16 NFL seasons. Reid is also a proud man who didn’t let his offense repeat its dreadful performance in last year’s season opener, which they lost to a Titans team that only won two games. With a difficult early schedule — not to mention the memory of last year still out there — it's hard to imagine Reid not calling some of his best stuff this week against former Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel's defense. Crennel, by the way, is facing the Chiefs for the first time since he was fired following a disastrous 2-14 season.

X-factor

EDGE >> TEXANS

On one hand, Reid has never lost to the Texans — he is 4-0 all-time against them. But on the other hand, does that really matter? Here’s an X-factor for you — the Texans finished with the same record the Chiefs did a year ago and have home-field advantage. Give them the edge.

Bottom line: Chiefs 17-13

This will be close, and it very well may be a loss. But the defense should fare OK against the Texans’ Foster-less offense, while Reid and an improved offense should be able to put enough points on the board to overcome a charged up Houston defense.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @TerezPaylor. Tap here to download the new Red Zone Extra app for iOS and Android devices.

198.9 (29th)

Chiefs pass yards per game

243.1 (21st)

Texans pass yards allowed per game

135.1 (5th)

Texans rush yards per game

127.2 (28th)

Chiefs rush yards allowed per game

209.5 (24th)

Texans pass yards per game

203.2 (2nd)

Chiefs pass yards allowed per game

119.9 (10th)

Chiefs rush yards per game

105.1 (10th)

Texans rush yards allowed per game

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