AFC Rookie of the Year Hopefuls Get Set to Square Off

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Sep 18, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) is unable to make a catch while being defended by Houston Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye (21) during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) is unable to make a catch while being defended by Houston Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye (21) during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

This week’s Sunday night matchup pits to the most recently successful AFC teams against each other down in the heart of Texas. Yes, Deshaun Watson is one of the top Rookie of the Year candidates, but Patrick Mahomes is not one in this matchup. For the Chiefs, it is Kareem Hunt who continues to be unstoppable. Deshaun Watson was the player some fans thought Kansas City would select in this year’s draft, after trading up to the tenth overall selection. Instead, Mahomes was the pick, and the Texans made a trade up of their own to go and get Watson. Watson played in Houston’s first game of the season, but it was Tom Savage who got the start. Watson has started the last three weeks and has fared pretty well, going 2-1. His only loss was in New England, where he almost outplayed Tom Brady. The Chiefs will have to do their best to confuse Watson as much as possible to force him into rookie mistakes in this one.


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We Want the Ball and We’re Gonna Score

Time of possession will be one of the biggest components for each team in this game. Fans have seen that the Chiefs have been able to score in quick spurts. But, the Chiefs not only need to keep the ball away from Watson, they also have had success this season when leading the time of possession. Both teams have led in time of possession in three of their four games this season. All three games that the Texans have led in time of possession have been started by Watson. For the Chiefs, the most important game that the Chiefs needed to keep control of the ball was last week against the Redskins. The Chiefs had a rough start, and the win was secured in the final minute. Also, these are two of the better defenses and who knows how many opportunities each team will have to score points.

Give Him the Spotlight

The NFL is a lot different than college football, but in primetime Deshaun Watson has had plenty of success. In Watson’s first start of the season, he scored the only touchdown and led Houston to a victory in Cincinnati. His final college game was maybe one of the most epic college championship games in recent memory. It was a back and forth affair against Alabama, and Watson threw the game winning score with just one second left. Watson threw for 420 yards and had a total of four touchdowns in the national title game. Watson seems like he has the smarts, which separates him from other dual threat quarterbacks to recently enter the NFL.

Holding Down the KC Fort

The Chiefs offensive line will be without Mitch Morse once again, and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will also be out after suffering a knee injury early in the game last week. This Houston defensive front is obviously led by JJ Watt, but even with the amount of talent on this front seven, some players are still underappreciated. The linebacking corps will be a key group to watch in this one. The Texans have unbelievably not been getting that many sacks yet this season, ranking tied for 14th, but they usually disguise and gameplan the defense very well. Give credit to Alex Smith though, he has made the plays that he has needed to keep the Chiefs offense alive. No better example than last week against Washington.

The offensive line has been banged up, but the Chiefs may be getting more healthy in the coming weeks. Mitch Morse may be back as early as next week against Pittsburgh. Tamba Hali could also be ready to go as early as week eight following his knee issues. And Duvernay-Tardif and Dee Ford’s injuries look to be more nagging than serious at this point.

The Chiefs have ten all time meetings against Houston, and eight of those matchups were played in Houston. The biggest win for the Chiefs in this serious has to be the 2015 wild card playoff victory. The Chiefs returned the opening kick for a touchdown and never looked back. This win earned the Chiefs their first playoff victory in 22 years. A lot of emotions were felt going into that particular contest, and both teams seem ready to face all the emotions in this one.

Braden Holecek is a writer for cover32 Chiefs. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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