Key matchup: Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu vs. Watson. Looking back at the Week 6 head-to-head matchup, we should anticipate the Chiefs rolling out a very multiple defensive game plan versus Watson and the Texans. Man and zone coverages, and pressure to heat up the pocket. Look for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to put Mathieu in a position to make splash plays while catering to his rare versatility in the secondary
Houston at Kansas City, 3:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Bold Prediction: Tyreek Hill breaks AFC divisional record for most receiving yards
Tyreek Hill has already torched the Texans defense once this year, and the prediction here is that he does it again on Sunday. When these two teams met back in Week 6, Hill finished the game with five catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns, and although that might not sound like a huge game, it definitely was, and that’s because Hill only played roughly half of Kansas City’s offensive snaps. That’s right, Hill did all that damage while only playing half the game. The reason Hill wasn’t on the field full-time against Houston is that the Chiefs were easing him back into the offense. The Week 6 matchup marked Hill’s return to the lineup after missing five weeks due to a clavicle injury.
I’m always rolling with Patrick Mahomes ... then everyone else
Like most things in football, the evaluation starts with the quarterback. There’s a lot of talent on this list, but Patrick Mahomes is the one guy who blows me away from week to week. If he’s the quarterback, I’m taking that group -- no matter who else is paired with him. That being said, Damien Williams and Travis Kelce (Mahomes’ top target) certainly aren’t liabilities -- they bring experience and big-play ability to Andy Reid’s offense, which has scored 14 more TDs than its opponents this season. With these three, the Chiefs are a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
While the quarterback of the 2019-20 season is obviously Jackson, Mahomes is having another huge year. The Chiefs are in the top five in the league in total pass yards, pass yards per attempt (8.1), pass touchdowns per game (1.9), and average team passer rating (104.4).
Last year, Mahomes won the NFL’s MVP Award, and led the Chiefs to an AFC Championship Game. Kansas City ended up losing 37-31 in overtime to the Patriots, and thanks to the NFL’s stupid OT rules, Mahomes didn’t have a chance to counter New
England’s overtime touchdown. Luckily the Chiefs won’t have to play the Patriots in the championship this year, and they can get a second chance to win the conference if they beat the Texans. Perhaps the football gods give us Mahomes vs. Jackson in the title game this year, too!
“People kind of think [Andy] always messes up his time,” Banner says. “No. He just has a different approach to it than many coaches.”
Banner says that while Reid’s approach differs from traditional thinking, he had a strong logic and conviction—something that became apparent as Banner watched games with his head coach when the Eagles weren’t playing. Reid is not afraid to use timeouts earlier than most coaches, who usually try to save them for after the two-minute warning.
“There are times at which he’ll take a timeout because he just thinks, ‘We need to settle things down, pause for a moment, and think everything through,’” Banner says.
“You know, I was coaching him one time and we were playing a game. We were beating the team pretty bad,” Mahomes Sr. said. “He came up to me and said, ‘Dad, I’m gonna go up here and hit left-handed the next time. I’m gonna hit left-handed and I’m also going to hit with a wooden bat.’ I said, ‘Well, we’re up, go do what you do. He hit the first pitch and he hit it over the center-field fence and I said, ‘Oh, this kid is pretty special.’”
1. Contain, maintain and delay blitz
The best tactic for the Chiefs will be to have the edge rushers contain him in the pocket and have the defensive tackles maintain their rush lanes in the middle of the pocket.
Watson loses some of his effectiveness when he is kept in the pocket. He holds onto the ball longer when contained, which creates opportunities for more hits or sacks.
The Chiefs also can sprinkle in some delayed blitzes by collapsing one of the lanes then having a delayed blitzer fill that lane.
One Texans fan on Reddit said that at least where they’re from, the meat isn’t “suffocated in brown sugar.” Another, taking a jab at the Kansas City style for its use of sweeter seasonings, said “we tryin’ to eat BBQ down here… not candy.” One Chiefs fan suggested sending all the visiting Texans fans to a barbecue joint in the area that wasn’t the best, because they shouldn’t have access to the good stuff, and another seemed to suggest that everyone from Texas cooks their meat through a hole in the ground.
Around the NFL
I’m sure that sentiment won’t endear me to the legions of TB12 fans who blame his 2019 season, in which the Patriots failed to make the AFC title game for the first time since 2010, on a suspect supporting cast and an underachieving offensive line, but the numbers don’t lie. Brady got off to a sizzling three-game start from the pocket (see: a 67.9 percent completion rate, 303.7 passing yards per game, 8.6 yards per pass, a 7:0 TD-to-INT ratio and a 116.5 passer rating). But through the rest of the regular season, Brady ranked among the bottom six in the league in completion percentage (59.4, ranking 28th), yards per attempt (6.2, tied for 30th) and passer rating (82.0, 27th).
I took the Vikings as road dogs last week, and it paid off, and I like the odds of history repeating this week. There are a couple of remarkable trends involving these teams that are difficult to ignore. One is that the 49ers are 5-12-1 against the spread as a favorite under Kyle Shanahan, and that includes a mark of 3-8-1 ATS as a home favorite. Then there’s an insane trend with the Vikings under Mike Zimmer that seals this play. Minnesota’s struggles have always been within the NFC North. Under Zimmer, the Vikings are 18-18 ATS in division games. Against everybody else, they’re 44-19-1 ATS. That’s right, 44-19-1 ATS.
“We’ve got to land the plane and get his deal done,” Jones said, via Jon Machota of The Athletic. “That’s on Jerry and myself. He’s our future. I think he stepped up and improved in all ways last year. ... We went over this in depth with Coach McCarthy and he thinks [Dak] is a top-end, top-caliber quarterback. We can do everything we want to do and more with Dak. [McCarthy] can’t wait to spend time with him. We’ve got to land the plane on his contract and get him signed up sooner than later. He deserves everything he has coming. We got real, real close there to start the season and just didn’t finish up. He’s so laser-focused on wanting to win football games and compete that he really didn’t want the distraction once we didn’t get it done in that first week of going back and forth with the contract. We just got to move forward. He’s our quarterback of the future. I’ll take him any time when you go to war against these guys. We’re fortunate to have him.”
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
You’re entering a period that will help define your lives in the decades to come. Like Coach Reid, I’ve been around long enough to learn that when you look back on it, you’ll want to remember not only what you did, but how you went about doing it. That’s why Coach stresses family to you — not just because families depend upon (and support) each other, but because they have fun together.
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