This years season will feature 4 games against the NFC west. My mind instantly goes back to the last time the Texans were in this same position with Matt Schaub leading the team. If you search “Richard Sherman NFL highlights” on YouTube you will most surely see him performing a pick six against the Texans in Houston, but its safe to say both teams are drastically different since that time. Lets put aside the usual 6 AFC south games against the combinations of Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Tennessee. The marquee games I see at first glance of the schedule are : Kansas City, New England, and Pittsburgh. Three playoff teams that have the ability to go deep in the postseason as well. Here are my early thoughts on those matchups.
Kansas City Chiefs – Another consistent Andy Reid playoff team. Alex Smith is the ultimate game manager who has an elite talent at limiting turnovers. The explosion of Tyreke Hill, who does a bit of everything, will make gap coverage assignments key in this matchup. The Texans corners will have their hands full with trying to contain the outsides with his speed and change of direction. Travis Kelce is another monster on their offense. A tight end who can block , outrun most linebackers and bully the smaller corners. Houston’s outside linebackers will have major responsibility in keeping Kelce in check, especially in red zone situations. One of the main keys for us will be moving the ball against an excellent defense. The Chiefs stop the run and the pass at high levels. Houston will have to effectively use their second year players in Will Fuller and Braxton Miller to keep eyes off of Hopkins.If Deshaun happens to be the quarterback for this game, his ability to run the ball will be key. This is a home game for Houston and not having to play in Arrowhead stadium is always a plus.
New England Patriots – Ahhh another game against Brady and Belichick. Ok lets look back to last years games, at halftime Houston was hanging in there with the Pats defensively but horrendous quarterback play caught up to them. The Patriots just won the Super Bowl , came back got an extremely good receiver and they are getting perhaps the greatest tight end of all time back healthy. This game will be in New England so the home field advantage isn’t on the Texans side in this matchup. The main key in this game will be time possession for our offense. The longer you can keep Brady on the sidelines the better chance you have of winning. Defensively, the Texans know what their identity is especially after getting JJ Watt back. The offense cannot afford multiple 3 and outs over and over again. That is a recipe for a loss at Gillette stadium. If the Texans are going to win this game they will have to score a minimum of three touchdowns.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Perhaps the team with the best weapons in the NFL. This is a Monday night showdown in Houston at the end of the season. Both teams will be thinking about playoff positioning so this could be even more of an important game. This game will be all about points. Pittsburgh has three receivers that can’t be guarded one on one and a top 5 running back in Bell. When Big Ben has time he has a multitude of options, but their defense is the weakness. Houston will have to attack the Pittsburgh secondary to win this game which is very doable. Defensively, the Texans should be able to limit Pittsburgh in certain situations but the offense has to capitalize on the 3 and outs that are forced. This should be a fun matchup with a lot of star power all over the field.
My prediction ? Houston beats Kansas City in an extremely low scoring game, finally gets over the hump and beats New England by a point , and loses to Pittsburgh at the end of the year in a shootout.