Know Your Foe: Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs' last two playoff wins have spanned the past 23 years. Unfortunately, both of those have come over Houston teams. Prior to the 2015 season, the last playoff win for the Chiefs came in the building to our left over the 1993 Houston Oilers with Joe Montana and Marcus Allen leading the way in an AFC Divisional playoff win.

The next playoff win for the Chiefs came last season in this building over the Houston Texans. It was the second win of the year for the Chiefs over the Texans at NRG Stadium as the Chiefs beat the Texans in the opener of the 2015 season. Suffice it to say, the Chiefs had the Texans' number in 2015.

As luck would have it, the Chiefs travel to Houston for a third time in just over a year in Week 2 of the 2016 season. As such, my 'Know Your Foe' series continues with a team that the Texans have gotten to know well in that year's timeframe.

OFFENSE
2015 Unit Profile
Rush Offense - 127.8 ypg (6th in the NFL)
Pass Offense - 203.4 ypg (30th)
Total Offense - 331.2 ypg (27th)
Scoring Offense - 25.3 ppg (9th)

2016 (one game)
Rush Offense - 84 yards
Pass Offense - 363 yards
Total Offense - 447 yards
Scoring Offense - 33 ppg

Here's what the Chiefs offense looked like in their playoff win over the Texans:

WR - Jeremy Maclin
LT - Eric Fisher
LG - Jeff Allen
C - Zach Fulton
RG - Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
RT - Donald Stephenson
TE - Travis Kelce
WR - Albert Wilson
QB - Alex Smith
RB - Charcandrick West
WR - Jason Avant
FB** - Anthony Sherman in 21 personnel

Here's what the Chiefs offense looked like last Sunday in the Week 1 opener against San Diego:

WR - Jeremy Maclin
LT - Eric Fisher
LG - PARKER EHINGER
C - MITCH MORSE
RG - Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
RT - MITCHELL SCHWARTZ
TE - Travis Kelce
WR - Albert Wilson
RB - SPENCER WARE
WR - CHRIS CONLEY
FB** - Anthony Sherman in 21 personnel

The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 5/2/2020)

**ALL CAPS INDICATE POTENTIALLY DIFFERENT STARTER

Most significant improvement on the offense - Getting Jamaal Charles back healthy may not happen by this one on Sunday. The Chiefs were sixth in the league in yards per game in 2015 on the ground but only ran 19 times for 83 yards in a come-from-behind win over San Diego. So, Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware combined for 13 receptions for 153 yards, but only had 69 yards on the ground. Charles status doesn't look good for Sunday, but it might mean more of Alex Smith in the passing game.

Most impactful players that the Texans didn't face in 2015? - The only player they didn't face at all was Schwartz at right tackle. He's an improvement over Jah Reid or Donald Stephenson but he'll get tested right out of the chute against Watt, Clowney and Mercilus.

What will worry Texans fans the most? - The Texans never found a solution to the Travis Kelce mystery in 120 minutes of action in 2015. Of all of the speed and explosiveness on that side of the ball, Kelce is the one worry I have and he's the one I heard about from most fans heading into both games last year.

What will worry Chiefs fans the most? - They must get something out of the second receiver on this team, be it Albert Wilson, Chris Conley or one of the others on the roster. Kelce will get targeted and targeted often, but the emergence of a true second receiving threat can transform this offense. As mentioned above, Ware and West were in the top three in receptions for the Chiefs, alongside Kelce last Sunday.

DEFENSE
2015 Unit Profile
Rush Defense - 98.2 ypg (8th in the NFL)
Pass Defense - 231.1 ypg (9th)
Total Defense - 329.3 ypg (7th)
Scoring Defense - 17.9 ppg (3rd)

2016 (one game)
Rush Defense - 155 yards
Pass Defense - 243 yards
Total Defense - 398 yards
Scoring Defense - 27 ppg

Here's what the Chiefs defense looked like in their playoff game with the Texans:

DE - Jaye Howard
NT - Dontari Poe
DE - Allen Bailey
LOLB - Justin Houston
LILB - Derrick Johnson
RILB - Josh Mauga
ROLB - Tamba Hali
CB - Marcus Peters
CB - Sean Smith
SS - Ron Parker
FS - Eric Berry

Here's what the Chiefs defense looked like last Sunday in Week 1 against San Diego:

DE - Jaye Howard
NT - Dontari Poe
DE - Allen Bailey
LOLB - DEE FORD
LILB - Derrick Johnson
RILB - JAY MARCH-LILLARD
ROLB - FRANK ZOMBO
CB - Marcus Peters
CB - PHILLIP GAINES
SS - Ron Parker
FS - Eric Berry

**ALL CAPS INDICATE POTENTIALLY DIFFERENT STARTER

**

Most significant improvement on the defense** - This is roughly the same exact defense as in 2015, with the noted exception at cornerback, where Sean Smith took off for Oakland. Gaines started at corner in the first matchup with the Texans but was lost to an ACL against Green Bay early in the campaign.

Most impactful players that the Texans didn't see in 2015? - No one really, other than rookie Chris Jones, who only played 12 plays last Sunday.

What will worry Texans fans the most? - This entire defensive crew; it's a nasty, physical and fast unit that can turn an offense over in a hurry. Now, Justin Houston won't be available in this one, but that puts former first rounder Dee Ford on the field. There's a drop-off but it's not THAT significant at edge rushing outside linebacker. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has done a tremendous job with the talent that GM John Dorsey et al. have provided for him in KC.

What will worry Chiefs fans the most? - Surprisingly, the run defense was shredded for nearly five yards per carry by the San Diego Chargers with Danny Woodhead doing most of the damage. Besides that anomaly, so to speak, the cornerback spot opposite Peters is probably the most major concern, with the "where does the pass rush come from without Houston on the field" question. The bigger concerns will come in the 2016 offseason as Eric Berry will be an unrestricted free agent and nose tackle Dontari Poe is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. But, as far as Week 2 against the Texans go, the only true worry is whether the Texans can exploit that other cornerback with its varied receiving options.

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