The Duel

3 Keys to the Texans Upsetting the Chiefs to Advance to the AFC Championship

Jason Schandl
Deshaun Watson celebrates the Texans' AFC Wild Card Round victory over the Bills.
Deshaun Watson celebrates the Texans' AFC Wild Card Round victory over the Bills. / Christian Petersen/Getty Images
facebooktwitterreddit

After winning the AFC South, the Houston Texans came through with a win as slight favorites against the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card Round. The betting odds have flipped ahead of their AFC Divisional Round game, though, and they have opened as 8.5-point underdogs against the Kansas City Chiefs.

With a trip to the AFC Championship Game on the line, here are three keys for the Texans if they want to upset the Chiefs for the second time this season.

1. The Pass Rush Needs to Get to Patrick Mahomes

J.J. Watt celebrates during the Texans' AFC Wild Card Round win over the Bills.
J.J. Watt celebrates during the Texans' AFC Wild Card Round win over the Bills. / Tim Warner/Getty Images

Patrick Mahomes has only been sacked multiple times in four games this season. The Chiefs are 2-2 in those contests, though, compared to 9-1 when Mahomes started and was sacked fewer than two times. The only one-sack loss Mahomes had came against the Texans in Week 6, and the pass rush still came up big in that one, forcing and recovering a fumble on that lone sack. Having J.J. Watt back in action gives this group a nice boost as well.

2. Exploit the Chiefs' Run Defense

Carlos Hyde runs the ball in Week 6 against the Chiefs.
Carlos Hyde runs the ball in Week 6 against the Chiefs. / David Eulitt/Getty Images

The KC defense was a very one-dimensional unit in the regular season. Football Outsiders' DVOA metrics had them ranked sixth against the pass, compared to just 29th against the run. Carlos Hyde ran the ball 26 times for 116 yards and a TD the first time these teams met, while Deshaun Watson ran 10 times himself, gaining 42 yards and scoring twice. There's always a risk of falling behind and being forced to throw against the Chiefs, but as long as things are close, the Texans should look to lean on their rushing attack.

3. Get Will Fuller Involved

Will Fuller catches a pass against the Colts in Week 7.
Will Fuller catches a pass against the Colts in Week 7. / Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Early reports are that Will Fuller is expected to return to action next weekend after failing to get cleared for the Wild Card Round. Fuller is a boom-or-bust producer himself, but there's no denying his overall impact on the Houston offense. Over the last two regular seasons, Deshaun Watson has played 18 games with Fuller and 13 without. Without Fuller he has completed 68.2 percent of his passes, averaging 7.5 yards per attempt. With Fuller that percentage drops slightly, to 67.6 percent, but it comes with an average of 8.6 yards per attempt. DeAndre Hopkins has also been far more effective when Fuller is keeping the defense honest, averaging 9.1 receiving yards per target when Fuller plays, compared to just 8.4 when he sits. If the Texans are forced to go with a pass-heavy approach, Fuller's involvement will be crucial.


Join FanDuel Sportsbook Today. New users get a risk-free bet up to $500. Join Now.


Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

facebooktwitterreddit