HOUSTON — The Texans take on the Chiefs this weekend in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.
Houston and Kansas City are not strangers when it comes down to playoff matchups. In 2015, The Chiefs spanked Houston at NRG Stadium. Kansas City won 30-0. Knile Davis started the game with a 106-yard kickoff return and the Chiefs never looked back.
This season, Houston beat Kansas City, 31-24, at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 6.
Here's a look at the position matchups ahead of Sunday afternoon's playoff matchup.
Texans - Deshaun Watson
Chiefs - Patrick Mahomes
Watson and Mahomes are two of the brightest young signal-callers in the league right now. Mahomes, the league's reigning MVP, missed two games this season with an injury. Watson played in 15 games this season, sitting out the regular-season finale.
Watson threw for 3,852 yards 26 touchdowns. He also ran for 413 yards and 7 more TDs.
Mahomes threw for 4,031 yards and 26 touchdowns. He ran for 218 yards and 2 additional TDs.
Texans - Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson
Chiefs - LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams
Williams and McCoy combined to run for 963 yards this season. Hyde alone ran for 1,070. Add in Johnson's 410 yards and Watson's 413, and you can see that Houston utilized a more efficient run game this season.
Houston also averaged 4.6 yards per carry to Kansas City's 4.2 over the course of the season. The Texans accounted for 59 more carries this season, so expect to see Houston lean on the run game in an effort to control the clock against the Chiefs.
Texans - DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Kenny Stills
Chiefs - Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson
Houston's All-World receiver Hopkins is one of the best in the game. He caught 104 passes for 1,165 yards and 7 TDs. He's Watson's go-to guy, and it's for obvious reasons. Fuller is the big question entering the game. Houston's passing attack is clearly more effective when he's on the field, and his availability will have an impact on the game. Stills is a solid complimentary pass-catcher, but Fuller's impact is substantial.
Hill and Watkins were a solid duo this season, combining for 110 catches and 1,533 yards. Hill is one of the league's best deep-ball threats and Watkins is a solid route-runner. Mahomes will be looking to get the ball to his playmakers early and often.
Texans - Darren Fells and Jordan Akins
Chiefs - Travis Kelce
The Chiefs hold a massive advantage over the Texans when it comes to tight-end play. Kelce is one of the best TEs in the league. He caught 97 passes for 1,229 yards and 5 TDs this season.
To put his season in perspective, Houston's tight ends caught 71 passes total for 767 yards, although, thanks to Fells' 7 TDS, Houston's tight ends accounted for 9 touchdowns.
Kelce is Mahomes' favorite target and expect to see Kansas City do their best to exploit the matchups across the middle throughout the game.
Edge: Kansas City
Texans - (From LT to RT) Laremy Tunsil, Max Scharping, Nick Martin, Zach Fulton and Chris Clark
Chiefs - (From LT to RT) Eric Fisher, Andrew Wylie, Austin Reiter, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Mitchell Schwartz
The Chiefs' offensive line gave up 25 sacks this season, compared to the Texans line that gave up 49. Some of Houston's sacks can be attributed to Watson's style of play, but it's well-documented that Houston's offensive line could use some improvement. Tunsil has been Houston's anchor and will be relied upon heavily to ward off Kansas City's pass rush and run containment.
Fisher was the top pick in the 2013 draft and is the stalwart of the Chiefs' line, but he did miss half the season with an injury. The performance of the Texans' offensive line will be a big factor in the game on Sunday.
Edge: Kansas City
Texans - J.J. Watt, D.J. Reader and Angelo Blackson
Chiefs - Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Emmanuel Ogbah, Derrick Nnadi and Tanoh Kpassagnon
Watt's return is huge for Houston's morale. His play is almost inconsequential, although he is a force to be reckoned with on the Texans' defensive line.
The Chiefs tallied 45 sacks this season, with Jones (9) and Clark (8) leading the way.
Houston racked up 31 sacks with Watt's four being the highest mark from a defensive lineman.
Houston's ability to fend off Kansas City's pass rush will be a big factor in the game.
Edge: Kansas City
Texans - Whitney Mercilus, Benardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham and Brennan Scarlett
Chiefs - Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson and Ben Niemann
Mercilus' play this season earned him a well-deserved extension in Houston. His 7.5 sacks led the team and he also had two interceptions and four forced fumbles. Cunningham (142) and McKinney (101) were the top tacklers on the Texans. Add in Jacob Martin's edge rush and Houston should be able to cause some problems in the Kansas City backfield come Sunday.
The Chiefs' linebacker unit was somewhat unspectacular this season. Hitchens led the team with 88 tackles and Wilson chipped in 81, but the duo combined for just 3.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss. Mercilus alone had 14 TFLs.
Texans - Bradley Roby, Johnathan Joseph, Justin Reid and Jahleel Addae
Chiefs - Bashaud Breeland, Charvarius Ward, Tyrann Mathieu and Daniel Sorensen
Tashaun Gipson Sr. led Houston with three interceptions this season, but he's done for the season after suffering an injury late in the year. Addae, Reid and Roby each had two picks and Joseph had one. To put it bluntly, Houston's secondary has been its Achilles Heel for most of the season. The Chiefs' secondary hasn't been that much better.
Mathieu had four picks and safety Juan Thornhill had three. Ward and Breeland each had two interceptions. Houston gave up an average of 267.3 yards per game while Kansas City gave up 221.4 per game. The Texans gave up 33 passing TDs to the Chiefs' 21. Houston had 12 INTs and KC had 16.
Houston will need to focus on not letting Mahomes take over the game through the air.
Edge: Kansas City
Texans - Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn and punter Bryan Anger
Chiefs - Kicker Harrison Butker and punter Dustin Colquitt
Fairbairn's short overtime FG last week sent Houston to the position they're in right now. He went 20-for-25 on kicks during the regular season. Butker converted 34 of his 38 field goals this season. Anger put 24 of his 45 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line with an average distance of 46.5 yards per kick.
Colquitt averaged 44.3 on his kicks and put 21 of his 48 punts inside the opponents' 20.
It feels like the Chiefs have an advantage in the field-goal game while the Texans have a slight edge in the field-position game.