Chiefs vs. Texans: Game Preview from The Mothership
After the Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) clinched a playoff berth two weeks ago with their 23-17 win over the Oakland Raiders, safety
Eric Berrystood in the center of the team huddle inside the locker room at Arrowhead Stadium.
"Don't be surprised," he told them. "We're supposed to be right here."
The quote is short and sweet, but its confidence and conviction is telling. That mentality is not a new concept for the Chiefs, but rather, it has been an attribute they have possessed since earlier this season, when they were 1-5 and the playoffs looked out of the question.
Chiefs S Eric Berry Named to 2015 AP All-Pro First Team from The Mothership
"It's an incredible honor. It means a lot to me," said Berry, per the Associated Press. "Football's a team game, so I have to give credit to those guys around me as well. We've been hungry from the get-go. I don't know how to explain it, but I think you see it throughout our play. I think our play speaks for itself."
LB Derrick Johnson and CB Marcus Peters Named to 2015 AP All-Pro Second Team from The Mothership
Johnson led the Chiefs in tackles in the 2015 regular season with 116 (95 solo), had 4.0 sacks and forced 2 fumbles.
Peters finished the season tied with Cincinnati Bengals safety Reggie Nelson for the league lead in interceptions with 8 and led the league in interception return yards (280) and passes defensed (26).
Chiefs DL Mike DeVito Talks Marcus Peters, Darrelle Revis Comparison from The Mothership
Back in 2007, Revis was the New York Jets first-round pick out of Pittsburgh, and that same year, the Jets signed an undrafted defensive lineman out of Maine, Mike DeVito.
DeVito and Revis would spend six years together with the Jets playing under defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, and DeVito said he sees some of the same things in Peters now that he saw back then in Revis.
"The biggest comparison I can see with [Peters] and [Revis] is their confidence," DeVito noted. "Darrelle came in with the same thing, and so you've got the making of a Hall of Fame player right there."
Eric's unique hashtag, #BerryWPMOYChallenge, was used more than 94,000 times.
"I'm humbled by the overwhelming amount of support from Chiefs Kingdom, Vol Nation, family, friends and those across the country," Berry said. "This community has rallied for me since the day I was drafted here, and I am truly grateful to receive this honor. Seeing all of those hashtags was incredible. I can't thank everyone enough."
"Additionally, I'd like to thank Nationwide for the $20,000 donation to the Eric Berry Foundation. The funds will be used to continue our mission of providing opportunities and safe environments for kids in sports."
As to be expected, Chiefs Kingdom rallied behind Eric Berry's story and a late effort spurred by those inside of One Arrowhead Drive and others from around the country led to an improbable win on his behalf.
In less than 48 hours, Berry went from trailing by almost 34,000 votes to winning by less than 3,000, with a total of a little more than 94,000.
As a whole, the contest accumulated around 450,000 votes in total, which means Berry carried more than 20 percent of the total votes.
That's what Chiefs Kingdom does.
Game Day Forecast from The National Weather Service [but let's be honest, the roof will be closed]
Today A 20 percent chance of showers before 9am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 61. Northwest wind 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Tonight Partly cloudy, with a low around 37. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Chiefs-Texans wild-card playoff scouting report from The Kansas City Star
Bottom line: Chiefs 24-20
One of the safest ways to predict a playoff winner is to go with the team that has the best coach and quarterback combination. With Andy Reid and Alex Smith, the Chiefs have the edge in both categories, so they get the edge on paper. But be wary of the 9-7 Texans, who have won seven of their last nine games. The defense is formidable â it's hard to envision the Chiefs consistently blocking Watt and Mercilus â and while quarterback Brian Hoyer doesn't scare anyone, it's not absurd to envision him gaining some confidence and getting on a hot streak during a home playoff game. The Chiefs are the better team on paper, hence the reason they're road favorites, but if they turn the ball over a few times and/or let Hoyer get some confidence, all bets are off.
Keys to postseason game: Chiefs @ Texans from The Mothership
One of the keys to beating Houston will again be grabbing the early lead. But they have to produce something offensively in the second half as well. The first game between these teams saw the Chiefs jump to a 27-9 halftime lead with three offensive scores, two by tight end Travis Kelce. They'll need similar execution on Saturday.
Ball security, balanced play-calling by Andy Reid and solid pass protection are the foundation stones of a winning offensive effort. They face a Houston defense that ranks No. 3 in average yards allowed (310.2) and No. 3 in average passing yards given up (210.4). Defensive end J.J. Watt led the league with 17.5 sacks; he's a headache that must be dealt with by the Chiefs offense.
Kansas City Chiefs: Quarterback finally looks like an advantage for the Chiefs in a playoff game, so it's important for the Chiefs that Alex Smith play like the better QB. The Chiefs may not have many other obvious edges against the Texans. The Chiefs have lost their past eight playoff games but have had the inferior QB in all of them. Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, John Elway, Peyton Manning twice and Andrew Luck have been among the opposing QBs. -- Adam Teicher
Houston Texans: Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney is the only player in doubt for Saturday's wild-card game against the Chiefs. Clowney is dealing with a foot injury that kept him out of last week's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was scheduled to meet with the media on Wednesday but couldn't due to some off-site medical attention. -- Tania Ganguli
Chiefs center Mitch Morse ruled out for Saturday's playoff game from The Kansas City Star
Listed as questionable for the Chiefs: safety Husain Abdullah (concussion), outside linebackers Tamba Hali (thumb) and Dee Ford (concussion).
Abdullah and Ford were listed as full practice participants on Friday, Hali a limited participant.
Mitch Morse ruled out against Texans; Justin Houston designated as probable from Chiefs Digest
The Chiefs list wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (hip), right tackle Jah Reid (knee), left guard Jeff Allen (ankle), wide receiver Chris Conley, tight end Travis Kelce (groin) and running back Spencer Ware (rib) as probable.
Maclin, in particular, put in a full practice for a second straight day after being limited Wednesday.
The Texans list 19 players on the final injury report.
Linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (foot) is designated questionable, while 18 players are probable, including defensive end J.J. Watt (groin, hand) and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hand)
The Chiefs can't hold anything back now. Hali played as a backup in last week's win against the Raiders despite not practicing during the week. Assuming Ford has cleared the concussion protocol, he should be available as well.
Houston missed the final five games of the regular season because of a hyperextended knee, so he might not be as effective as usual. He will play with a bulky brace on the knee.
A coach finds new life in Kansas City: Andy Reid and Chiefs needed each other from The Kansas City Star
So it seems like there needs to be some tidy, tangible, dramatic jumping-off point for all this. And Maclin fleetingly seemed to provide the juicy untold story the other day when he alluded to a team meeting after the Chiefs' 16-10 loss to Minnesota.
Then ... buzzkill:
Uh, we meet after every game, he reminded.
The common denominator, it turns out, is much less distinctive and far more substantial.
What player after player and coach after coach referred to, whether asked directly or of their own notion, was the steadfastness of Reid.
What many internally point to is the command presence we don't see much publicly, and the attached clout to galvanize the group.
Chiefs keep eye on bigger goal, not drought of winning in postseason from Chiefs Digest
Safety Eric Berry said he knows of the franchise's last postseason win because people have approached him about it, but Berry reinforced Smith's stance.
"We have to control what we can control," Berry said. "It's one play at a time, one game at a time and we're just going to handle it the same way we handled it in the regular season."
If the Chiefs take that approach, there is a good chance to end the drought when considering odds makers currently have the Chiefs favored by four points.
The Chiefs also carry a wave of momentum, closing the regular season with a franchise-record 10 straight wins.
While the Texans are a tough team and took a similar route to the postseason by going 6-2 in the second half, the Chiefs have been on a mission since the offseason.
They would be the fourth team in the Super Bowl era to finish the regular season with a streak of at least 10 straight wins and go on to capture the NFL championship.
They would also be in some good company if they lose their first-round playoff game on Saturday in Houston. The Chiefs are the 15th team in NFL history to finish a season with at least 10 straight wins, and only six of the others managed to win their first playoff game.
How Marcus Peters won over the Chiefs with his special traits from The Kansas City Star
Eric Berry cannot even feign surprise at the impact cornerback Marcus Peters has had on this year's Chiefs. Turns out Peters, the club's first rookie Pro Bowler since Berry in 2010, predicted his success in August.
"He was just telling me everything he was going to do for the team," said Berry, the Chiefs' emotional leader and starting free safety, "and how he was going to come out and perform."
Ordinarily, a veteran like Berry might be inclined to bring the rookie back down to earth. Yet, there was something about the way Peters spoke that made Berry believe every word.
How a 1-5 Chiefs team started rolling right into the playoffs from FOX Sports
On Sunday, Oct. 18, Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs walked off the field at TCF Bank Stadium following a 16-10 road loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Chiefs were 1-5 and were playing without their most dynamic offensive weapon, Jamaal Charles, who had torn his ACL the week before against Chicago. They were also struggling on the other side of the ball, allowing 26.5 points per game to that point. And because of these issues and others, they were a team seemingly without hope, as most 1-5 teams are.
But, incredibly -- some might say impossibly -- Kansas City hasn't lost since.
Reid didn't know how to climb out of this hole. But Reid did what he always does. He remained even-keeled. He didn't panic. He preached fundamentals and the value of working hard.
No one in the Chiefs organization pointed a finger. No one passed the blame. There weren't any rifts between the coaches and the front office. There was no backbiting, no positioning with ownership in the event the season ended poorly. Top to bottom, the organization didn't fall apart, as was the case in other places this season (see: Eagles, Philadelphia). Instead the organization pulled together.
And even without Charles, good things started happening.
Chiefs' Eric Berry makes NFL All-Pro team at safety from The Kansas City Star
Berry recorded 61 tackles with two interceptions and 10 passes defensed this season.
In a bit of an oddity, the Raiders' Khalil Mack made the first-team defense at two spots, end and outside linebacker.
Texans' defensive end J.J. Watt was a unanimous selection, as was Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
The Carolina Panthers, who finished with the NFL's best record at 15-1, had six players chosen to the first team, including quarterback Cam Newton.
One rookie make the team â Seattle Seahawks return specialist Tyler Lockett, the former Kansas State star.
He was named to the Pro Bowl in December, but arguably a bigger recognition arrived Friday when The Associated Press named Berry as a first-team All-Pro selection.
Over the course of the season, Berry amassed 55 tackles and two interceptions for 40 yards.
This is the second time Berry has been slated as All-Pro.
KC sports fans help Eric Berry win NFL Man of the Year ‘Charity Challenge' from The Kansas City Star
If we've learned one thing about Kansas City sports fans over the last year, it's that they are prolific online voters of their favorite players.
Last year's All-Star Game is one example. Another came Friday when Nationwide announced that Chiefs safety Eric Berry had won its "Charity Challenge."
Nationwide said it is the "presenting sponsor" of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. Last month, it announced a contest in which fans could use a specific hashtag in support of Berry and the other Man of the Year Award nominees.
Royals outfielder Alex Gordon said the whole town is excited about winning a pair of titles.
"I can't wait for Saturday," Gordon said. "It's been a special year for us and now to see what they're doing, I can't really put into words what that means for Kansas City. You saw what the fans did for us as far as a celebration, and I feel like it'd probably be even better with the Chiefs."
It's the first time the Royals and Chiefs have made the playoffs in the same year. The Chiefs will begin the playoffs in the same city where the Royals nearly saw their season end.
Chiefs sign TE Demetrius Harris to extension from Chiefs Digest
Harris' agent, Buddy Baker, took to Twitter to announce the news.
"Done deal," Baker tweeted. "Congrats to my client @BreadWinner084 (Harris) on his contract extension. From the court to the gridiron. Hard work pays off!"
Terms of the deal were not revealed and the Chiefs did not announce the transaction.
The Chiefs had trouble filling Arrowhead for the November and December home games they had. None of the opponents (Buffalo, San Diego, Cleveland and Oakland) were particularly attractive, and all the games were played in temperatures in the 30s or in a steady rain or both.
So you have to wonder how many Chiefs fans would have shelled out the cash on short notice for a game that would have been against Pittsburgh, certainly an interesting opponent, but would have kicked off in less than ideal conditions for fans.
As Chiefs kicker, Cairo Santos could find heroics or heartbreak from The Kansas City Star
The history of Chiefs place-kickers in the postseason has not been kind. In fact, it has been downright cruel.
Jan Stenerud, the only pure kicker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, may be remembered as much for the three field goals he missed in the double-overtime playoff loss to Miami on Christmas Day 1971 as for his three field goals that staked the Chiefs to a 9-0 lead on the way to victory over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV.
Nick Lowery, a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame, delivered a 32-yarder in overtime that beat Pittsburgh in the 1993 playoffs, but he also came up just short on a last-second 52-yarder that could have won a wild-card game at Miami in 1990.
And Lin Elliott needs no introduction, having missed three field goals in the bitter cold of a 10-7 home loss to Indianapolis in 1995.
Now second-year Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos enters the crosshairs of heroism or heartbreak.
To limit the Texans is to limit J.J. Watt from The Kansas City Star
"Every game he makes plays," Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. "He finds a way to make plays. He's disruptive, and they are as a whole."
Yes, the Texans are and the proof is in Watt's sack totals, which dropped to 17 1/2 this year after surpassing 20 in two of his previous three seasons.
Double- and triple-team attention can impact a sack total, and extra bodies will be part of the Chiefs' plan on Saturday.
"There are times, based on your protection schemes that there will be an extra guy there," Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. "It's not all the time. Most of the time he's going on a right or left tackle."
USA Today writer: Royals, Tomahawk Chop are reasons to root against Chiefs in playoffs from The Kansas City Star
The Chiefs checked in at No. 5, and USA Today. Here is part of what was written:
"Kansas City, with its deafening stadium without acoustical fakery (cough, Seattle, cough) and great fans, would rank higher if not for two reasons:
"a. The city just won a World Series with the Royals. Let's not get too greedy.
"b. The Tomahawk chop is so much more offensive than a nickname as it's active, not passive."
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans Preview from The New York Times
The Texans' defense showed a great deal of improvement as the season progressed, and Alfred Blue and DeAndre Hopkins are talented enough to make the team's offense interesting even if Hoyer is not a great option at quarterback. But the Chiefs seem better off on both sides of the ball, and their winning streak should continue.
It's hardly uncommon for coaches to issue strong messages to their clubs while in the midst of adversity, and it's probably a given that some of the coaches on teams that underperformed this season â say the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys,
Indianapolis Colts" culang="en">Indianapolis Coltsand so on â issued their own crisis messages.
So to pin a turnaround on a meeting might seem like a stretch.
But who can argue? Whatever Reid told his players that day surely can't be knocked now, given the results. The Chiefs haven't lost since that meeting, entering postseason with an NFL-best and franchise-record 10-game winning streak.
"To lose five games in a row was a wakeup call," Hali said. "At some point, coach had to say something to us. And as leaders on the team, we had to look at each other and kind of bring the team together."
Dynamic matchup between Texans' DeAndre Hopkins, Chiefs' Marcus Peters looms from The Houston Chronicle
The miscommunication between Hopkins and Hoyer, which Hopkins was accountable for, started the Texans in a bad direction. The interception led to a Chiefs touchdown. Although Hopkins wound up with nine catches for 98 yards along with two touchdowns caught against Peters, the Chiefs earned a 27-20 victory to open the season.
The game provided a preview of both players' outstanding individual seasons as Hopkins went on to make the Pro Bowl, catching 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. And Peters led the NFL with eight interceptions with two returned for touchdowns and was named AFC Defensive Rookie of the Month for December.
Now, an intriguing matchup looms between Hopkins and Peters in a rematch between the two teams as the Texans and Chiefs square off in an AFC wild-card playoff game Saturday at NRG Stadium.
Texans prize versatility of running backs Jonathan Grimes, Akeem Hunt from The Houston Chronicle
Grimes lines up in the shotgun, taking direct snaps in the Wildcat. He caught 26 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns this season, rushing for 282 yards and a touchdown while averaging five yards per run.
Hunt is used on sweeps and swing passes, hitting corners with his 4.37 speed in the 40-yard dash. He rushed for 96 yards on 17 carries and caught six passes for 39 yards.
Cities clashing in the MLB and NFL playoffs doesn't happen too often from The Houston Chronicle
By our unofficial count, this is just the eighth such occurrence. There are a variety of reasons why, such as two different leagues in baseball and conferences in football, and how small the playoff field used to be in baseball before it expanded in recent years.
If you're wondering, there have been four sweeps and three splits in the seven previous MLB/NFL double-doubles.
History of perhaps a budding Houston vs. Kansas City sports rivalry from The Houston Chronicle
Should Houstonians hate Kansas City and its citizenry? Probably, after how the Royals so cruelly sucker-punched the Astros' pocket in October, although there's nothing about the stolid cow town that's inherently odious enough to generate real enmity. In other words, it's not New York or Dallas.
Texans, J.J. Watt readying for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith's mobility from The Houston Chronicle
"Yeah, he's a mobile quarterback," said Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt, who sacked Smith twice in a season-opening loss. "He can do a lot of things with his feet and with his arms. We're coming off a guy in Bortles last week that could also do things with his feet, so it's not comparing to him in any way, just saying they both can run.
"That's one thing you have to worry about as a pass‑rusher is make sure you're rushing the quarterback and being smart about keeping those lanes so that he can't get out and run."
John McClain's guide to the Texans/Chiefs AFC wild-card game from The Houston Chronicle
The Houston Chronicle's John McClain breaks down Saturday's AFC wild-card game between the Texans and Chiefs at NRG Stadium.
Click through the gallery above for the General's things to watch, key matchups and prediction.
Wild Card Weekend preview: Chiefs-Texans from NFL.com
So why is this viewed as the least attractive contest of Wild Card Weekend?
Start with the notion that neither of these teams has truly been tested during their winning streaks.
The Chiefs did not face a playoff opponent in their final seven games of the season. They started 1-5 against teams with a combined winning percentage of .625 and closed out the season 10-0 versus teams with a combined winning percentage of .419.
The Texans gorged on the toothless AFC South to the tune of a 5-1 record while managing an uninspiring 4-6 record against opponents outside the division.
Wild Card Weekend Cheat Sheet from NFL.com
Matchups that intrigue
Chiefs' pass rush vs. Texans' offensive line
Much has been made of J.J. Watt facing the Chiefs' offensive line and DeAndre Hopkins vs. Marcus Peters might be my favorite battle of the weekend. However, too little has been made of the Texans losing Duane Brown. The left tackle is the Texans second-most important offensive player behind Hopkins (sorry, Brian Hoyer). Losing Brown could open the flood gates for a Chiefs pass rush which will get Justin Houston (probable) back and ramp up Tamba Hali's snap count after a late-season injury. Hoyer was banged around in Week 17 even before Brown left and ended the game with eight quarterback hits and two sacks. That was against a Jacksonville team with a limp pass rush. I imagine the Chiefs are licking their chops, waiting to tee off with Brown on the sideline. If Kansas City's front swallows up Hoyer -- who already suffered two concussions this season -- the Texans' game plan of targeting Hopkins as many times as humanly possible will get flushed.
The Chiefs, though, have outscored opponents 278-128 during the 10-game winning streak to end the regular season, and they were especially potent in the fourth quarter, when they have outscored opponents 50-10. Expect to see a lot of tight end Travis Kelce, who had six receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the first game against the Texans.
The question in this game is whether the Texans can summon whatever offensive firepower the Chiefs' defense will allow them.
Travis Kelcevs. Texans linebackers and safeties
Kelce's production leveled off in the second half of the season, but he remains an important option in a passing attack with limited places to turn. His contributions could reveal the offense's well-being against Houston's third-ranked defense.
Jeremy Maclinbecame Alex Smith's preferred option this season, but he faces a tough matchup with Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph" culang="en">Johnathan Joseph. Even if Kelce can't replicate the two-touchdown outing he had in Week 1 against Houston, Smith can't afford to ignore him for stretches as he did in the final few weeks.
Houston's pass defense is far better equipped to handle Kelce now, in large part due to its strong pass rush.
Palm Desert grad ready for NFL playoff run with Chiefs from The Desert Sun
Ever since his sophomore year of high school, D.J. Alexander has been terrorizing offensive lines.
Palm Desert football coach Pat Blackburn first noticed Alexander (then known as D.J. Welch) as a budding sophomore who spent time competing against the varsity offense in practice.
"He was so quick that our varsity guys couldn't block him, and that made them mad," Blackburn said. "D.J. only knows one speed, and that's full speed, and the varsity tackle isn't expecting him to go full speed to make him look good."
In 2012, he was awarded a special football encased in glass from the Kansas City Chiefs for being a 50-year season ticket holder.
The last time the Chiefs won a playoff game was January of 1994. Friedman was there to see it, in Houston.
He expects the same outcome on Saturday.
First Glance: Texans vs. Chiefs from HoustonTexans.com
3. How's Hop covered-
DeAndre Hopkinshad a monster year in 2015, finishing with 1,521 receiving.
The Kansas City defense is excellent. The Chiefs finished second in the NFL in interceptions with 22 this year, and they were fifth in takeaways with 29. A big question is who will cover Hopkins, and how much extra attention he'll get.
With the Royals' big win and now the Chiefs heading to the playoffs, Rally House in Country Club Plaza has seen their sales skyrocket.
"Foot traffic here at the store on the Plaza has always been good , but since everyone's been you know the Royals won now the Chiefs are winning it has quadrupled," said Rally House Manager Dee Perkins.
Sales for Chiefs gear didn't start off on a good foot, at least at Nill Brothers in Shawnee. It wasn't until the chiefs starting a 10 game winning streak that sales took off.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: The sight of those red helmets alone might be enough to give Patriots fans an unwelcome flashback to Week 4 of the 2014 season.
This Chiefs teams is very similar to the one that thrashed the Patriots down in Kansas City on Monday Night Football last year. Even without injured running back Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs still boast a top-10 rushing attack thanks to Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware. After a 1-5 start, they won 10 straight games to reach the playoffs.
The Chiefs will be holding an official Chiefs Kingdom Watch Party at KC Live! in the Power and Light District Saturday starting at 2:30 p.m. The Chiefs will take on the Texans in Houston in the first round of the playoffs. The game will be shown on the big screen and Sports Radio 810 WHB's Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty will host the party. There will also be appearances by KC Wolf, Chiefs Cheerleaders, the Rumble, Chiefs personality Jillian Carroll, former players and more.
All ages are welcome, but anyone under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. You must be 21 to enter after 9 p.m.
An unknown likely to make his mark in NFL playoffs from The Associated Press via The Amarillo Globe-News
Here are potential unsung heroes for each team this wild-card weekend:
■ Kansas City Chiefs: Running back Spencer Ware. Charcandrick West became the primary back after Jamaal Charles went down for the season, but Ware had a better average (5.6) and more TDs (six). He'll probably get fewer touches against the Texans, but should make the most of them. Look for Ware to get the ball in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
NFL Wild Card Round Picks: Bengals and Packers Will Squeak By from The Wall Street Journal
Hoyer is more of a gunslinger (seventh in average pass length). This game appears likely to be low scoring, with both teams ranking top 10 in most key defensive categories. Kansas City has more playmakers. The Texans have just oneâwide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. They could add a second if they would feature J.J. Watt's athleticism and proven receiving skills (three receiving TDs last year) at tight end. Watt, one of seven players since 1982 to lead the NFL in sacks twice, recently shed his cast for a broken hand. Chiefs 23, Texans 19
Coach Takes a Big Step Back From Manziel and Favre from The New York Times
Defensive lineman Mike DeVito of the Kansas City Chiefs, the one Nauset graduate in the N.F.L., said, "It's not every day you get an N.F.L. coach who is coaching high school, let alone at a place like Nauset."
He added: "I see big things, especially if Coach Sherman keeps coming back. You'll have the experience for the players, and there'll be the added draw to come out because they'll want to be coached by the best."
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ronald Darby, cornerback, Buffalo Bills. Darby immediately established himself as a quality corner for Rex Ryan. It was difficult to pick Darby over Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs, however. Peters had eight interceptions, but he also had 919 yards against him through the air. My sleeper pick is linebacker Kwon Alexander of the Buccaneers.
Comeback Player of the Year: Eric Berry, safety, Kansas City Chiefs. He beat cancer along with being part of a great stretch run of defense in the final 10 games by the Chiefs.
5. How will the Chiefs block Texans DE J.J. Watt? Can they? Watt was back to his explosive ways last week against the Jaguars. The Chiefs are average at tackle, which plays right into the strength of Watt. Look for those tackles to get a lot of help.
Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, and Kansas City Chiefs
Although there are no "official" bars hosting any of these teams, there are representatives from these teams ensuring no man (or woman) gets left behind. To watch Cam Newton and the rest of this year's dominating Panthers, visit Carolina's watch party page for information on the next meet up. Another team that's having a great season is Arizona. Again, no official bar, but you can scope out a game with your fellow Cardinals by visiting the Austin watch party page. Want to know where Missourians meet? There's also a Kansas City Chiefs watch party page.
Football 101: Stopping the zone read from HoustonTexans.com
What's my concern about facing the Chiefs? Stopping Alex Smith from picking up "cheap and easy" yards on the zone read. Look, the zone read isn't something the Chiefs live off of, but Kansas City, Carolina and Buffalo all hurt the Texans with their version of zone read earlier this season. So, the worrywort, coach traits in me got me thinking about how the Texans can stop something this weekend that they truly haven't seen all that often this year.
The zone read is a concept that grew legs in college football in the late 1990s and made its way to the NFL a decade or so later. At the college level, it's more like a zone read PhD. clinic with all the different wrinkles and complex reads. NFL teams, however, run a truly basic version of it but that's all it takes to be effective in most cases. What makes it an effective play at any level is how easy the read is for the quarterback.
Take a look at how the Chiefs ran zone read at the Texans earlier this year.
NFL Eric Berry and Kansas city, specialists in miracles from L'Equipe [translated from the original French]
For Berry and Chiefs, everything collapsed in early 2014 season when a dark mass is detected in his chest. Shortly thereafter, an MRI confirmed the fears with this cancer of lymphatic system. "To begin, I washed the brain by concentrating on where I wanted to go, visualizing goals to achieve," explained Berry Day his selection to the Pro Bowl. But the 264 days between diagnosis and back on the field during a preseason game in August, have not been so easy.
ESPN's Tirico opens busy week with Texans game from The Houston Chronicle
Broadcasters strive to call things down the middle, but Tirico acknowledges his appreciation for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, which dates to Smith's college days at Utah, and his career resurrection in Kansas City.
"San Francisco went with Colin Kaepernick over Smith, and now the 49ers are making their second coaching change since then, and we have no idea where Kaepernick will play next," Tirico said.
"And then there's (Chiefs coach) Andy Reid. Philly got sick of him, and now the Eagles are looking for another coach and Andy is in the playoffs. Both weren't good enough for other places, but look where they are now."
First Down Interview: Cairo Santos analyzes turn of Chiefs and provides duel with Texans from O Tempo [translated from the original Portuguese]
You and Paulo Orlando are the representatives of Brazil in Kansas City. How is your relationship? Have met?
Yeah, he got me in Royals Stadium. Was pretty cool. He's a very nice guy, humble, deserving of this achievement. Represent Brazil in the city is a source of great pride for me and I think for him too.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif go to Houston from L'Oeil Regional [translated from the original French]
Despite a lower profile in the regular season, the Texans field advantage because the title of the South Division of the American Conference (Chiefs were second in the Western Division).
Recall that it was in Houston on 13 September that Duvernay-Tardif made his professional debut in the NFL. The Chiefs had also won this match by a score of 27-20.