On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs face the Houston Texans. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favored to win. We welcome Scott Barzilla of Battle Red Blog — our sister SBNation site covering the Houston Texans— for Five Questions with the Enemy.
1. I hope you don’t mind me pointing out the obvious: the Texans have been bad for a few years now. Why is that and can you work out why they haven’t been able to turn the corner?
Don’t worry, you will not offend us. We know we are bad. The reasons why are more complicated and it will take some time to get through them. First of all, Bill O’Brien and Jack Easterby essentially nuked the roster and our draft capital through the 2021 season because of foolish trades, bad signings, and hubris based on perceived superiority and intelligence. Nick Caserio has been better, but he has not done a perfect job. In particular, some of the selections he made in the past draft have yet to work out. Part of that is based on bad coaching and part of that might be selecting the wrong players. The hiring of David Culley last season was just bizarre and I’m sure Kansas City fans that follow the team closely were chuckling at our expense. So, last season was a lost season and it looks like this season is lost too. The expectation is that Lovie Smith will also be one and done. From there, it is not quite sure of what the future will hold. Jack Easterby was fired in October. If he was still the power behind the throne then maybe things will turn around. The coaching search has to be handled differently. It needs to make sense and they need a younger coach with more imagination. That might require a new general manager. There is a lot that is yet to be determined around here.
2. The Texans showed up in Dallas. What was different about that particular performance?
There are some players that have checked out on this team. Those players weren’t there on Sunday and likely won’t be for the rest of the season. The players that were there played hard and they did some different things. They alternated quarterbacks for one. Jeff Driskel is not a good quarterback overall, but he is athletic and offers some different skills. Plus, Dallas is a rivalry that goes back to the very first game of the franchise. Very few players were actually here when they lost to the Chiefs in the playoffs. I just don’t know if they will have the same juice. I will say that this team has these performances every now and then. It shows me and the rest of the fanbase that the excuse that the players aren’t talented enough to win is not exactly right.
3. Who have been the standout players both offensively and defensively this year?
Dameon Pierce has been the only real standout performer on offense — but he is out for this week. Without him, I really don’t know how the Texans are going to move the ball consistently. Jerry Hughes leads the team with 8.5 sacks and Jalen Pitre is playing better than he did at the beginning of the year. There are very few outstanding players, but there are some solid ones on the roster.
I don’t know that he’s a surprise from our end but Ogbonnia Okoronkwo has been a beast lately. His PFF scores have cleared the 80 mark which means he’s playing on a Pro Bowl level. He plays the run and rushes the passer equally well. He put up similar scores with the Rams prior to this season in part-time duty. He has done the same in Houston except as a starter. In general, the defensive ends are the strength of the team as they usually combine for one to two sacks per game by themselves. They won’t make anyone forget Reggie White or Bruce Smith, but they are a solid group compared to the other units.
4. The Chiefs’ defense isn’t playing well at the moment. Do the Texans have the players to make them pay?
If Dameon Pierce is out then we simply don’t have the horses to do it. The Texans are usually good for a garbage touchdown or two, but if he is not there it will not be difficult for the Chiefs to win this game.
5. The Chiefs are currently two-score favorites. Do you think the line is fair? How does this one play out?
I think the line is fair. The Chiefs are by far the superior team. If Pierce is out then I would definitely bet heavy on the Chiefs. The Texans are good at the backdoor cover, so that wouldn’t surprise me either.
Be sure to check out the answers I gave to their questions by clicking here.