NFL Preview - Houston (2-4) at Kansas City (6-0)|
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - Around and around the quarterback carousel goes. Where
it stops nobody knows.
OK, Gary Kubiak probably knew all along but three different signal callers
could have been under center for Houston this weekend as the struggling Texans
try to halt an ugly four-game losing streak against the 6-0 Kansas City
Veteran quarterback Matt Schaub is injured and has been ineffective, giving
the embattled Kubiak a decision to make, one he confirmed on Thursday by
giving Case Keenum the reins.
Whether Schaub can't go because of his balky ankle or the team simply decided
his play hasn't been up to par is up for debate but the embattled Kubiak also
looked past backup T.J. Yates, who played poorly after relieving Schaub in an
embarrassing 38-13 home loss to St. Louis last weekend, and landed on Keenum,
a popular Texas native who starred in college at the University of Houston.
"He's given me confidence thru camp," said Kubiak of Keenum. "He continues to
grow. We're looking for a spark and he deserves an opportunity."
Keenum, a second-year player who has never taken an NFL regular-season snap,
grabbed the job from Yates during practice this week. He did have a prolific
collegiate career with the Cougars, throwing for over 5,000 yards and 40
touchdowns in a season three times. In his senior campaign in 2011, Keenum
threw for 5,631 yards with 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
Schaub, who had thrown a pick-six in four straight games entering last
Sunday's contest, protected the ball against the Rams but failed to ignite
Houston's offense, completing 15-of-21 passes for 186 yards before exiting
late in the third quarter with the right ankle injury.
Yates took over under center and promptly tossed a pair of red-zone
interceptions, opening the door for Keenum.
"I think there has been a lot of talk about our quarterback the last few
weeks," said Kubiak. "This is a team game and we have a lot of issues to get
fixed: coaching and playing."
Arian Foster was the lone bright spot offensively, rushing for 141 yards on 20
carries and catching four passes for 57 yards.
"It doesn't matter how many good things we do right now because we do just so
many poor things," said Kubiak. "We got our butt kicked as a football team."
The Chiefs are familiar with butt-kicking this season but they are the ones
that have been doing it.
Even the fans at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium have been on fire, setting a
world record for the loudest outdoor arena last Sunday as the Chiefs took
care of the Oakland Raiders 24-7.
"It was loud, real loud, ground-shaking loud," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
Jamaal Charles had two short touchdown runs and the Chiefs harassed Terrelle
Pryor for 10 sacks and three interceptions in a victory that kept Kansas
City's best start in a decade alive.
Charles rushed for 78 yards and Alex Smith passed for 128, but Kansas City's
defense headlined in this latest win.
All three Pryor picks led to Kansas City points, including Husain Abdullah's
44-yard return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Pryor had a 39-yard
touchdown pass to Denarius Moore, but also faced a 3rd-and-48 play at one
point in the fourth quarter.
"Teams are in a position where they have to throw in the fourth quarter and
with our pass rush, that's a tough thing to do," said Reid. "The defensive
staff had a great gameplan for what I think is an up-and-coming quarterback
who is very dangerous."
The Chiefs snapped a six-game home losing streak to the Raiders and have
won their first six games of the season for the first time since going 9-0 in
Linebacker Tamba Hali was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after
recording 3 1/2 of Kansas City's 10 sacks, including two in big spots in the
fourth quarter -- on a 3rd-and-2 play to force a punt and a 12-yard sack on
first down that pushed the Raiders back to their own 28.
"You can't make the type of mistakes we made against a good football team like
this and expect to win the game," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen, who called
the stadium "a tough environment to play in."
Kansas City is 2-3 all-time against the Texans.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Kansas City is a tough task for any quarterback. The unbeaten Chiefs are the
first team in NFL history to start 6-0 after losing 14-plus games in the
previous season and will be shooting for their first 7-0 start since 2003
The K.C. defense is coming off the 10-sack performance against Oakland and has
helped the team compile an NFL-best plus-12 turnover ratio. Smith, meanwhile,
is 25-5-1 as a starter in his last 31 games.
Defense and special teams have contributed heavily to Kansas City's success,
accounting for over 46.1 percent of the Chiefs' points so far, including five
"It's something we talked about from Day 1, the scoring," Reid said. "There's
equal opportunity in all three phases. We want everybody to have their chance
to score a touchdown."
The numbers say the Texans should be nearly as successful as the Chiefs.
Houston is allowing an NFL-low 252.8 yards per game and garnering 395.7 yards
on offense, good for seventh-best in the league. Turnovers, though, have been
the great non-equalizer in this case. Houston is an AFC-worst minus-12 when it
comes to turnover ratio and that is why the team is scoring just 17.7 points
"Turnovers get you beat in this league and they're getting us beat on a
consistent basis," Kubiak said.
With the QB situation in flux, expect Houston to lean heavily on Foster, who
has an AFC-leading 531 rushing yards on the season.
Interestingly the Chiefs, who hardly have an explosive offense, have their own
big-time runner in Charles, who is second in the NFL behind Philadelphia's
LeSean McCoy with 129.2 scrimmage yards per game.
As a whole Kansas City generates just 326.3 ypg and Smith is more of the a
manager-type, who places securing the football above all else.
On the injury front Houston lost starting safety Danieal Manning for the rest
of the year due to a right knee injury suffered against the Rams.
The backup quarterback is the most popular guy in any city when the starter is
struggling but you have to remember they are usually in that position for a
good reason and Yates showed that against the Rams.
Throwing Keenum to the wolves against this Chiefs defense is also unlikely to
jump start things for Kubiak, who has piloted the Texans to a 4-8 mark since
their 11-1 start to the 2012 season and now seems to be grasping at straws.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Chiefs 23, Texans 14
10/17 15:24:13 ET