HOUSTON (CBS Radio) – Although the Texans defense is playing at a high level, the unit knows containing Chiefs Pro Bowl tight end, Travis Kelce, is one key to victory in Saturday’s AFC Wild Card game on Saturday at NRG Stadium.
When these two teams met in Week 1 to kick off their 2015 regular seasons, Kelce helped the Chiefs jump out to a 14-0 lead with two first quarter touchdown catches from Alex Smith. He finished with six receptions for 106 yards and those two scores. Kelce, in his third year out of Cincinnati, finished the regular season ranked second on the team with 72 catches for 875 yards to go along with five touchdowns.
“He’s a good player but we’ve got to be physical with him and be aware of where he is at all times on the field,” Texans linebacker Brian Cushing said. “Definitely a playmaker for them that we have to kind of track and know where he’s at.”
The Chiefs have a number of playmakers but none more explosive than their leading receiver, Jeremy Maclin, a key free agent signing during the offseason. He finished the regular season with 87 catches for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns. Kansas City has been without its star running back, Jamaal Charles who was lost for the season when he tore his ACL on Oct. 11 versus the Bears, but the young trio of Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware and Knile Davis have stepped up nicely, combining for 1,535 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
But the Chiefs’ offense begins with their veteran quarterback, Alex Smith, who tied for the league lead among QBs to start all 16 games with only seven interceptions. He led the Chiefs from a 1-5 start to closing out the season with 10 straight wins as he finished the regular season with 3,486 and 20 touchdowns through the air to go along with 498 rushing yards and two TDs on the ground.
“He’s a mobile quarterback,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said. “He can do a lot of things with his feet and that’s one thing you have to worry about as a pass rusher is make sure that you’re rushing the quarterback with being smart about keeping those lanes so he can’t get out and run.”
“This guy is a mentally tough guy,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s been through a lot in his career. He’s really an efficient quarterback, so that means he gets the operation in and out of the huddle very quickly. They operate at a fast pace. He’s smart, he makes very few mistakes with the ball, does a great job of taking care of the ball and he can really run, so they’re able to do some things in the running game that really is a threat to your defense.”