Bill O'Brien has a chance to win his first career postseason game as a head coach, but he's no stranger to the NFL postseason.
O'Brien coached in eight postseason appearances, including two Super Bowls (2007, '11), as an assistant on the Patriots staff. From what he learned under Bill Belichick, there's one key difference in coaching for the postseason versus the regular season.
"You can't leave any stone unturned," O'Brien said.
Instead of studying the past few games, the coaches will study film from the entire season.
"You're looking at all the snaps," O'Brien said. "You're looking for any edge that you can find to try to put your players in the best position to make plays. You've got to look at it by down and distance, situation, personnel, road home, home game, special teams on the road, special teams at home, quarterbacks and how Alex Smith operates on the road, how he operates at home, different things like that. We've got to be really detailed in our preparations."
The Texans coaching staff has collectively coached and/or played in 82 postseason games. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has coached in 29 postseason games, six Super Bowls with five wins, two with the New York Giants (1986, '90), and three with New England (2001, '03-'04). Linebackers coach Mike Vrabel has played in 20 playoff games, earning three championship rings as a part of the Patriots' run of three Super Bowls in four years.
"We've got a lot of guys on the coaching staff that have been in this position," O'Brien said. "So we've been here before. A lot of us, it's not necessarily new to us even though some of us haven't been here in a couple years, but we know what's at stake and we know how to prepare."
The Texans also enter the 2015 postseason with 23 players having a combined 101 games of playoff experience. Vince Wilfork leads the roster with 21 postseason games played, including 19 starts. Players have made a total of eight Super Bowl appearances: Wilfork (2004, '07, '11, '14), Nate Washington (2005, '08), Shane Lechler (2002), and Chris Clark (2013).
"We've got guys on this team that have been to Super Bowls, we've got guys on this team that have been to the playoffs, won playoff games," O'Brien said. "You're counting on that veteran leadership and I think it's still very much so obviously a one-game season. That's what it is now. The fact that we've kind of had that theme all year is probably something I hope will help us in this time of the year."
The 2015 AFC South Champion Houston Texans (9-7) will host the Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at NRG Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 9. Kickoff for the AFC Wild Card Game is set for 3:35 p.m. CT on ESPN/ABC.
Texans players celebrated winning the AFC South Championship.