Will Fuller's health and the Chiefs loving the matchup are also key storylines ahead of Sunday
Did O'Brien get two key decisions right and how much more Watt?
3 Headlines, 2 Question, and 1 Bet ahead of the Texans heading to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs.
Watson's best moment yet
He carried Bills defenders into the end zone. He took shot after shot and kept getting up. He sparked the offense and sent the Texans to the divisional round.
Deshaun Watson was amazing. He will need to continue to be amazing for the Texans to succeed.
It is another in the long list of amazing escapes the Houston Houdini has brought to the highlight reels in Houston.
Bill O'Brien loved the play Sunday but he had one he was more fond of from Watson's season.
"But I think that when you get kicked in the eye and you still are able to complete a touchdown pass, I'm not sure that you can surpass that. I just think that that play that he made on Sunday was an incredible play and he's an incredible player, but when he got kicked in the eye against Oakland and he grabbed his eye and he really didn't know what was going on with his eye and he kept the play alive to complete a pass, that was a pretty cool play."
I'm not breaking any news, but the Texans are always in the game with Deshaun Watson.
Slow starts not allowed
#Texans playoff game first offensive drives under O'Brien— Cody Stoots (@Cody_Stoots) January 4, 2020
2015: 3 and out
2016: Punt from OAK 37
2016: 3 and out
2018: 3 and out
Bill O'Brien has been bad in the first half of playoff games as a head coach. Saturday was no exception. The Texans were shut out and the buzz was here we go again. Credit to O'Brien and company for figuring things out in the second half, but they can't start bad again. That margin for error is gone.
O'Brien said as much Monday.
"We've got to figure that out," he said. "This is not the type of game, on the road versus this type of team, that we can do that. We've got to try to do whatever we can to get off to a good start."
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs could be up huge on the Texans if the slow start continues. Mahomes won't gift the Texans a couple of possessions with poor play like Josh Allen did Saturday. The start must be better or it will doom the Texans.
Watt could play more Sunday
Bill O'Brien didn't rule out J.J. Watt playing more on Sunday against the Chiefs. O'Brien said there is a lot of communication that goes into a decision like that between himself, Watt, and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.
Watt was situational in his usage until the fourth quarter and overtime when he played a ton. I would expect him to be used the same way against the Chiefs. Maybe a few more plays but he can't rebuild all the stamina in just one week.
The Chiefs boast of course a tackle who maybe took some liberties with an injured Watt a few years ago. A little revenge would be nice for Texans fans.
Did O'Brien get key coaching moments right or wrong?
Though it didn’t work, Bill O’Brien’s decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Bills’ 30 with 1:21 left was narrowly the correct call, per ESPN’s win probability model.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) January 5, 2020
Attempting a field goal would have cost the Texans 1 percentage point of win probability.
Bill O'Brien will be questioned heavily for his decisions Saturday.
First the sequence in the first quarter where O'Brien challenged a pass interference and decided to punt after initially having the kicking team out.
There's a couple of levels to this first call. He made the wrong decision challenging the play. That was not the right move. It wasn't worth it in the moment and potentially could have cost the Texans should they have needed the challenge later. I didn't like the challenge one bit.
O'Brien then decided to pass up on the potential career long field goal for his kicker for a punt. I liked that and the Texans ultimately forced a Bills punt.
In the fourth quarter, the second key coaching decision popped up. O'Brien tried to end the game by going for it. After the game he stood by the decision but said he would have liked another play there instead of the sneak. I agree with both those thoughts from O'Brien.
O'Brien trying to keep his defense, the lesser unit, off the field was smart. Now, could they have used a field goal and forced Buffalo to try to score the touchdown for the win instead of letting the field goal tie the game? I wouldn't have minded that at all. I didn't feel like Buffalo was capable of scoring six points there.
Can Will Fuller play Sunday?
Will Fuller worked out on the field Saturday, but he was far from full speed when I observed him. He didn't look hurt, but he didn't look healthy.
"We're going to continue to work with him throughout the week and see where he's at," Bill O'Brien said Monday. "I know he's progressing in the right direction and I know he's doing better, but I'm not sure that I'd be able to sit up here and tell you that, 'yeah, he's all the way back."
Fuller's usefulness to the offense is not understated. He absolutely helps the offense. It would be easy to say him coming back would help the Texans not start slow but I can't for sure say that. What it does hopefully guarantee if he returns is DeAndre Hopkins could be involved from the jump. It has taken far too long to get Hopkins involved some weeks.
I bet the Chiefs are thrilled to play the Texans again
There was not much of an opening down field on this play and good pressure by Watt forced a hobbled Mahomes to scramble and eventually throw the ball away. The Chiefs would not get the ball back after this. The Chiefs will have to account for the Texans pass rush this week. pic.twitter.com/kXArb2yxMV— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) January 6, 2020
Kansas City has to be thrilled to get another crack at Houston. The last game featured a banged up Patrick Mahomes and no Chris Jones for the Chiefs. The Chiefs defense has been ROLLING the past few weeks and they got an extra week to get healthy and get ready for their opponent.
The Texans defense was the worst defense left in the playoffs. Not just the AFC, the playoffs. They are the worst defense still in the playoffs. The Chiefs have an easier matchup than the Ravens for sure from the defense they are facing standpoint. Also, Patrick Mahomes vs Deshaun Watson should be glorious. Signal callers love to ball against other signal callers.