HOUSTON VS KANSAS CITY PREVIEW By Brad Lorkovic ( LORK 88 ) A few days ago, a couple of us were sad to see some of our pre-season favorites hit the waiver wire as they fell short of making this years team. Some of us even found ourselves keeping up with the Chiefs in their training camp documentary on HBO called Hard Knocks. However, with the final cuts out of the way and the show over, that means one thing that makes all of us happy: ITS FOOTBALL SEASON AGAIN!!! Yes, football season kicks off again and our new look Texans get to kick things off in Reliant Stadium against a Kansas City Chiefs team thats looking to repeat their playoff appearance. Will Schaub and the new look Texans prove all the doubters wrong or will the Hard Knock Kansas City Chiefs keep up the same level of play they displayed last year? Houstons Running Game vs. Kansas Citys Run D: For us, running the ball will be key to establishing the passing game as it always is. However, this year we have stability at the position. People complain that Ahman Green is too old and done, but this pre-season he was effective running the ball and was great at getting yards after contact. He also consistently hit the holes that the zone blocking scheme left him. Behind him, Dayne should see some carries in short yardage situations and in the red zone. However, he seemed to be ineffective this pre-season at reaching the end zone, but did show good burst. Last on the depth chart will be Gado, who has the potential, but needs to work on hitting the hole and his vision. It's unlikely that he will see ample carries. Defensively, we will be going up against a run defense that ranked in the middle of the road against the run. The D Line to me isnt anything special, but is decent overall. Alfonso Boone and Ron Edwards are in the middle. Boone has always been a solid contributor and part time starter in Chicago, but will get his chance to prove himself as an every day starter. Edwards is a returning starter from last year. Together, they are a solid duo, with both being well balanced. At DE, theres Tamba Hali (who is high intensity player) and Jimmy Wilkerson (who plays the run better than the pass and will be filling in for Jared Allen). The LBs also will add some help to KC in run defense, but their biggest effect will be in the passing game. Overall, we just need to hit the holes hard and get yards after contact. We dont need it to be perfect, but we do need our running game to be well enough to dictate the tempo of the game. Houstons Passing Game vs. Kansas Citys Pass D: The passing game for us will look very different, but in a good way. We have Schaub, who showed everything we have ever wanted in a QB, and of course Andre Johnson, one of the quietest and best in the NFL. What will make things interesting will be how the others on our team play. Walter will get his time at number two, although a bunch of us feel that the explosive Jacoby Jones should get the job (he still will see time as the #3), and Daniels will be entering season two as the starting TE in what many think will be a breakout season. Defensively, Kansas City has a solid pass defense, but lacks depth. As far as a pass rush goes, the biggest threats will be Tamba Hali and the LBs. Hali is just a high energy guy who is athletic and finds ways to get to the passer. Derrick Johnson and Donnie Edwards are two others to keep an eye on. Johnson also uses his athleticism and speed to get to the QB, as does Edwards. Both are actually pretty instinctive in coverage, and Napoleon Harris is actually deceptively athletic. Edwards is easily the best in the group in coverage, during his time in San Diego he did a great job of reading the QBs eyes and jumping passes. In the secondary, KC has two old but experienced vets in Ty Law and Patrick Surtain. Both have lost a step, but will take advantage of any QB mistakes that are made. At safety are two second year pros, Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page who are both big and physical. Pollard is more physical than Page, and some felt he might even be able to transition to LB in the NFL. Page is more instinctive and saw more playing time last season. Both are fairly inexperienced, but both have potential and will show flashes. Overall, for us I feel we need to spread the field, keep them guessing, and go deep when possible. I want us to spread the field because of the lack of depth they have at CB and the speed we have with Jones, Mathis, and Davis. We need to keep them guessing because of the crafty vets on the outside and also at LB. Lastly, I want us to take shots deep so we can test the safeties and keep the defense honest. Kansas Citys Rushing Game vs. Houstons Run D: The name of the game normally would be stop Larry Johnson, but Herm said earlier that he would limit his carries this week, which means more of Michael Bennett ( a definite plus). As far as the O Line goes, they are easily more dominant when it comes to running the ball. They are great at getting a push up front and giving LJ lanes to run in. As far as LJ goes himself, hes a definite home run threat. He can run you over and has a nice burst of speed. When LJ isnt in, Michael Bennett will see time and is the exact opposite of Johnson. Bennett is a burner, but lacks the strength to be a serious factor in between the tackles. For us, the biggest battle will be on the inside. Travis Johnson finally gets his chance to start after showing a great burst and penetration during the pre-season. Along side him will be Amobi Okoye who has shown potential when hes been in the game. If they can maintain and penetrate their gap responsibilities on running plays, it will definitely make it hard on LJ and Bennett. If they can do this, it will also free up DeMeco to make plays like he did last year. Mario and Anthony Weaver will also play a big role in not allowing plays to get outside. Mario has looked good against the run, but Weaver is the question mark as he is returning from injury and hasnt played since. It will be interesting, and the big battle will be the interior line battle. Kansas Citys Passing Game vs. Houstons Pass D: Offensively, the passing game is where KCs biggest woes came this pre-season. Huard was named the starter in the middle of the pre-season, but its night and day when you compare his play last season from the pre-season. Last season, he was highly efficient and made very few mistakes. This pre-season, he barely saw time, but didnt make the most of his plays. Which side we will see on Sunday will be interesting to see, although a lot of it will depend on our pass rush (which Ill get to below). The biggest receiving threat for KC will obviously be Tony Gonzalez. Although hes a TE, he runs great routes and has consistently been one of the elite TEs for some time now. The wide receivers wont be as big a threat as Gonzalez, but still compliment each other well. Kennison is a receiver whos been around some time now, but has a nice combination of speed and hands. The other WR will be Sammie Parker whos a burner, but struggles with some passes. If he can gain consistency, Parker could be dangerous, although his eventual replacement at WR has already been drafted in Bowe. Bowe has great size and speed, but needs to work on adjusting to the NFL. The biggest deciding factor will come from Kansas Citys offensive line. While they are dominant in run blocking, pass pro is their downfall, and needs to be attacked by us. The biggest battle will be Mario against McIntosh/Svitek. If its McIntosh, its the guy that Mario got his first 1.5 sacks last season. If its Svitek, its a converted DE. Outside of Mario, we get to see how our nickel pass rush looks with Orr/Anderson opposite Mario. It will be important for us to get a pass rush because our secondary is the weak spot. The longer they get to throw, the higher the chance our safeties will have to make a play deep. Hopefully, we get creative and force bad decisions to keep the big play at bay. Position Battle QB Advantage: HOUSTON RB Advantage: KANSAS CITY WR Advantage: HOUSTON TE Advantage: KANSAS CITY OL Advantage: PUSH DL Advantage: HOUSTON LB Advantage: PUSH CB Advantage: PUSH S Advantage: KANSAS CITY K/P Advantage: PUSH RET Advantage: HOUSTON Key Factors To The Game 1) We have to get a pass rush, no excuses. Last year and even during the pre-season, that was the biggest complaint that a lot of us had. This year needs to be different; we have to get pressure on the QB to force bad decisions. Lucky for us, Mario will be going up against the OT who he got 1.5 sacks last season (McIntosh), or a converted DE, Will Svitek (he played in Europe last season). Our match ups on the outside wont be as beneficial as the are on the outside, so its really going to come down to getting pressure from the outside. 2) Weve need to slow down (and if possible, stop) Larry Johnson. Its his first game experience since last season, so hopefully he will have some rust. Either way, he has the potential to destroy us on the ground if we dont make him earn every yard. If we are also able to slow him down, it means the Chiefs have to depend upon their passing game which is the weakness on offense. Huard can hit some hot streaks, but I would much rather force him to try to make plays than Larry Johnson. 3)Maximize opportunities. In the past, Ive put finish drives, no turnovers, and various keys of the same nature, but Im just going to combine them and say maximize opportunities. In other words, no missed Field Goals, no fumbles in the red zone, no INTs, or anything of that nature. Weve looked good this pre season and really capitalized on opportunities, and we need to keep it up.