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Chiefs vs. Texans: six keys to the game

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The Chiefs host the Texans as they look to rebound from their first loss of the season.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

On this week’s game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we talked about three keys on offense and three keys on defense to watch in Sunday’s game.

Offense

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Protecting Patrick Mahomes

If the ankle of the league MVP doesn’t get rolled up and stepped on, the Chiefs are undefeated. He was capable of those special traits early on Sunday Night Football. He lost some of that mobility when he re-aggravated his ankle.

Simply put, the Chiefs must do everything they can to protect him—that could mean a quicker pass game, chips from running backs and tight ends on their way out to their routes or switching things up on the left side of the line. It is critical that things are adjusted to help keep Mahomes from further issues.

Run game improvements

The running game was non-existent last week. LeSean McCoy, the Chiefs’ best runner, did not get a single carry during the game. He’s been the most successful carrying the ball to this point and shouldn’t go without one this week. The Chiefs need to find a little success in the run game to help protect their hobbling quarterback. If it’s using the run-pass options that put the fate of the play in the hands of the quarterback, so be it.

Is this an Andy Reid special?

We’ve seen Reid do magic with much less talent offensively than he’ll have on Sunday. One of the most creative minds in the game was out-coached last week. Whether it was because of a lack of anticipation for heavy man coverage or something else, we’ve seen Reid dial up some excellent play calls for large stretches of Alex Smith’s tenure in Kansas City. The Chiefs could gain an advantage if Reid finds some things he can use to help a hobbled offense get back on track.

Defense

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Surviving inside

The defensive line will be down Chris Jones and Xavier Williams. The former is a massive loss, but both were part of the rotation of defensive linemen. The healthy interior defensive linemen on the roster are Derrick Nnadi, Khalen Saunders and the recently-signed Terrell McClain. The Chiefs may have to lean on the likes of Emmanuel Ogbah and Tanoh Kpassagnon inside in spots to help alleviate the depth issues. The run defense has been bad all year, and it doesn’t look like this is the group that can turn it around. They will have to dig deep.

Defending DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller

The cornerbacks are lucky that everything else was going wrong around them last week. They got a break from drawing the ire of Chiefs fans. That could very easily be a short-lived break.

The Houston Texans have excellent receivers. Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the league — an excellent route runner with strong hands at the catch point and elite body control. He can do it all. Fuller is coming off a 16-catch, 217 yards-and-three touchdown performance. His ability down the field is rare, and the Chiefs don’t have someone with that kind of long speed to match up.

How the Chiefs do against Hopkins and Fuller could determine the outcome of the game.

Carlos Hyde’s revenge game?

Neither Andy Reid or Brett Veach reportedly had a conversation with Hyde when we was notified he was traded. Will that fuel him to have a big game?

The Chiefs intended on Hyde to be a piece of their rotation this year, but after a slow start in the preseason, they flipped him for a young, promising offensive lineman in Martinas Rankin. The Chiefs brought McCoy in and solved some of their depth issues with Hyde’s absence.

The run defense for the Chiefs has been abysmal, and Hyde could exact his revenge this week.

Arrowhead Pride Laboratory

We went into further detail on these storylines and listed players we’re looking forward to watching on the game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory.