Behind Enemy (Side)lines is an ongoing series with the opposing team's beat writer. This week, Terez Paylor, Chiefs beat writer for the Kansas City Star, gives insight on the Texans first opponent of 2015.*
Sport's Illustrated's Peter King had the Chiefs winning the AFC West this year, though he still had Denver reaching the AFC championship game in his MMQB column. What factors are contributing to this upward trend for the Chiefs?
Paylor: This is Year 3 of the current regime so typically you get a chance to bring in your own players, your own people and that matters. You've really got a ton of the guys to fit the system that you like and Andy Reid is one of the better game day play callers in the league. He managed to help the team overcome some offensive-line difficulties last year. Now with a better receiving corps, the offense should get better. The defense is pretty good as well, obviously with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.
At the end of the day, these guys can score points and they can rush the passer and if you can do that in this league, you've got a chance to win a lot of games.
Alex Smith and Reid are also now entering their third year together. What makes a quarterback like Smith successful in Reid's system? Why do those two work so well together?**
Paylor: Alex is a really smart guy so he can process a lot of information and Andy Reid has a pretty voluminous playbook. I mean, it's pretty complicated but Alex can handle that. He's cautious with the ball and doesn't turn it over. For the most part, Andy Reid is good enough at putting his quarterback in positions to win so you've got a quarterback that can execute the system even if he doesn't make a huge amount of plays like say, Aaron Rodgers.
Jamaal Charles is entering his eighth season. He recently said he wanted to play another six years or so. How has he looked this offseason and how does a guy like that keep evolving his game?
Paylor: He's just an elite back. He's very quick, great vision, hard worker, all that. I think the important thing for him is making sure he hadn't take a lot of hits this preseason. They've done a good job protecting him. That's a good thing. He believes he can play four or five more years and he's 28 years old. We're going to see. We're definitely going to see. I think Charles is well-served by this offense. Reid likes to throw the ball a lot to the running back, so that makes sense. As long as he stays healthy, he's in for another year.
No. 1 overall picks in Sunday's game, Jadeveon Clowney for the Texans and Eric Fisher for the Chiefs, will face each other. Fisher has been at left tackle but it appears he's moving to right tackle for Sunday's game. Is that going to be a permanent move for the Chiefs?**
Paylor: We're going to have to see. I think what they're doing is, one guy has just been so good (T Donald) Stephenson this preseason. Fisher is coming off this high-ankle sprain so he's going from the left side to the right side now. At some point, you are trying to win games and it's not really about the politics anymore but Stephenson has been better over there.
In a way, you have to give (Reid) credit because it's a gutsy move. By Year 3, you take a tackle No. 1 overall ahead of three other guys, you're expecting for him to start on the left side but they are trying to do what's best for the team and start the guy that's just been better over there. I think at the end of the day, it just depends on how Stephenson does.
If he continues to do well and thrive there, there would be no reason to take him off and that's something everybody is going to be keeping their eye on over there now because this line…it's the one major question as far as this Chiefs team. It really is.
With this reshuffled Kansas City o-line, will stopping J.J. Watt and Vince Wilfork be one of their biggest challenges of the season?
Paylor: Absolutely. Watt is outstanding and he lines up everywhere, has a lot of freedom to exploit holes and there's some holes that can be exploited. The Chiefs weren't very good at picking up stunts last year so I expect Watt to try them on that. They are going to run some games up front. See if they can try and pick some of this stuff up. Then, he can just beat you head-on too. He's just so big, long, and quick. That guy is just the real deal.
Watching Watt is going to be interesting. He's one of the best players we've seen in a long time. It's going to be the season opener. He's going to be pumped. He's got a chance to destroy an offense but again, Andy Reid is pretty good at calling plays and it's going to be fun to see what he tries to do to take that guy away or try to limit his destruction or effectiveness.
Who are some of the Chiefs' draft picks you are looking forward to seeing this year?**
Paylor: I want to see (CB) Marcus Peters. Peters is really good at plays in front of him. He's got really good football instincts. The question has been the long speed, how does he handle when some teams throw over the top of him. He's a competitive guy, though, an interesting guy to watch.
Then there's the center, Mitch Morse. They took him second round. He's a smart, tough guy and those are the guys that thrive on the interior in the NFL. The thing for linemen is that it sometimes takes a little while to get it, you know what I mean?
I think those two guys are going to be right in the spotlight because those two guys are going to come in and play immediately. Those are two guys they are counting on to help them this season. There's no doubt they are trying to get to the playoffs this year.
What's the latest on All-Pro safety Eric Berry? He was diagnosed with cancer last year but it looks like he saw some preseason action.
Paylor: He did. He's on the roster. He's not taking on the usual workload, but he's played. He looks like he's working back towards being what he used to be. He deserves a lot of credit for this. He fought back from a tough situation and he's been an inspiration for a lot of people.
The Texans host the Kansas City Chiefs in their regular season opener on Sunday. Kickoff is set for noon CT on CBS KHOU-11 and SportsRadio 610.
Take a look back at the six-game series history between the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs.