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Texans To-Do List vs. Kansas City


1. Protect against the pass rush.

Case Keenum gets his first NFL start in the hostile Arrowhead Stadium against a defense that ranks first in the NFL in sacks with 31.0. The Chiefs sacked Oakland's Terrell Pryor ten times last week, the most in a single game this season.

All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown says the best antidote to a good pass rush is to run the ball.

"All of them are very good pass rushers," Brown said. "Starting with the two edge guys, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Then you work inside, they have Dontari Poe, he's come along since he got drafted. The best way to negate is to run the ball and that's something we've been doing well all year. We just want to be able to do it consistently and do it for four quarters. If you can do that, the pass rush won't really as much."

Arian Foster, who leads the AFC with 531 rushing yards, is coming off of a season-best 141 yards rushing against the Rams. Another big rushing performance by Foster is a necessity against the Chiefs' pass rush and to alleviate some pressure off of Keenum.

2. Take Advantage of the Case-Factor

After losing four-straight games and their starting quarterback to injury, Case Keenum is the spark head coach Gary Kubiak thinks the Texans need.

"He's one of those guys that scrambles and does a lot of great things without the ball, with the ball, Dennison said. "He understands the game and works very, very hard at it. He's got a good arm and is very athletic."

Houston would be well-served to alter the offensive plan of attack and design it to fit Keenum's mobility and passing ability.

3. Stop the Run

Jamaal Charles ranks second in the AFC behind Arian Foster with 475 rushing yards on 114 carries. He leads the NFL in first downs with 27 on the ground and 16 through the air. While the Texans defense ranks first in the league in passing yards allowed (131.3), it ranks 25th in average rushing yards per game with 121.5.

"We're going to have to improve against the run," Kubiak said. "We did play some running quarterbacks (recently). We've played runs that have run the ball a great deal because of the games that we've been in. I think that's essential this week. We've got the Chiefs and their moving quarterback and of course Charles. So it'll start with that and we need to play better in the red zone. All three phases of our team have to improve a great deal this week compared to last week for us to have a chance to be successful."

4. Neutralize the noise

Much has been said about Arrowhead Stadium being the loudest outdoor sports stadium in the world, reaching 137.5 decibels in last week's win over Oakland. The Texans need to take the  home crowd out of the game early.

"I think we've practiced all week with the noise," Keenum said. "Doing that and working with silent cadence I think is going to be big. We've really worked a lot on the operation. I think operation, being able to get us in the right play, calling plays in the huddle, getting us out of the huddle with the right personnel, snap count, and all of that stuff reduces penalties and kind of creates fluidity in the offense. So I think that's going to be huge this week."

5. Make the big plays

Nothing takes a home crowd out of a game than big, momentum-shifting plays. The defense needs to force turnovers or produce negative plays for the Chiefs offense. Improving redzone defense is also top on the list of to-do's for the Houston defense.

"Outside the red zone, we're probably the best in the league," defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "We've probably given up the least touchdowns outside the red zone, but once they've gotten down there, we haven't made enough plays. Part of it was we started really bad. The first two games, even though we won those games, we were last in the red zone then. I think we've gotten better but it's still a point of emphasis for us."


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