Things must change for Houston on defense

Kansas City collapse proves defense needs new direction

The Texans defense falls apart in loss to Chiefs

Seven straight touchdown drives

The Texans allowed seven consecutive touchdown drives. Seven. No stops in there. The first Chiefs drive was an easy pitch and catch for the Chiefs that saw the Texans totally lose the Chiefs receivers. The next two, maybe a little tougher to criticize. Two short fields though were turned into touchdowns with little effort from Kansas City. There were no fourth down conversions. There were no miraculous highlight plays. Just offense. It worked. Really well. The Chiefs rarely saw third down after two early drops on the key down.

The Lonnie Johnson plan failed miserably

Lonnie Johnson was tasked with defending Travis Kelce. He did little of that. Kelce dropped a play early, but the Chiefs tight end dominated the Texans from that point on. 10 catches for 134 yards and three touchdowns was the day for the Chiefs best offensive weapon.

Yes, Tashaun Gipson and Jahleel Addae were missing but there is no excuse for ineptitude by the defense when defending Kanas City's tight end.

Defensive composition contains same questions as start of 2019

The Texans have all the same questions on defense at the end of their season that persisted before the start of the season.

There is no clear solution at cornerback. Lonnie Johnson has looked lost more often than not. Johnathan Joseph could be close to retirement and finally has had injuries creep up as a concern for him. Gareon Conley is assuredly on the team after the team used a third round pick on him in a trade. Vernon Hargreaves is due nearly $10 million next season and has yet to impress since showing up in Houston.

There is nearly no pass rush. Irregular contributions from Jacob Martin and Charles Omenihu were nice surprises but they stayed irregular. J.J. Watt had a lot of success, and he could be counted on to a degree, but he's another year older. Whitney Mercilus is here to stay with his new contract despite a down season of production.

Historic failure

The above stat says it all.

Romeo's time has passed

It is time for Romeo Crennel to go. The game has now passed him by. There are too may young quarterbacks doing amazing things on offense for a defensive coordinator like him to continue coaching. There are rarely adjustments and any sort of quarterback mobility renders plans useless often.

Bill O'Brien can't stand pat after this type of performance. He has to find someone else to run his defense. They will have to get better with coaching, because there won't be a ton of options to improve their team with draft picks and money.

After the game, Bill O'Brien said he expected Crennel to return to the team.

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These next six games will be very telling. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Houston has six games left in the 2022 regular season, two three-game series in which they need just one more win, or a Yankees loss, to secure the top seed for the AL side of the postseason bracket. They've accomplished what they set out to do over the 162-game drudge that is the regular season, so you're likely to see them use the opportunity to get some players off their feet in the remaining games.

Even so, having one of the best teams means that while putting out a lineup with some starters missing, they can still beat most teams on any given day. So then, what could that mean for the teams still vying for postseason spots or positioning in the remaining games?

Affecting the NL playoffs

It's a relatively sure bet that if they haven't locked up that top seed by the time they enter the final three games, they will before that last series is over. That means that when the Phillies come to Minute Maid Park to close out the season next week, Philadelphia will have much higher stakes in those games than Houston.

Under the expanded playoff format starting this season, the two best teams in each league receive a bye, while the remaining four teams square off in a Wild Card series, with all those games taking place at the better seed's stadium. That means teams will be very motivated to secure their best Wild Card positioning.

As of now, the Phillies hold just a half-game lead over the Brewers for the third and final Wild Card spot for the National League. Things could change this weekend, but whether they still lead or have fallen back and have ground to makeup, the games will matter to them against the Astros.

They also sit 2.5 games behind the Padres, meaning that Philadelphia could potentially be looking at a chance to jump into the second Wild Card spot. However, it's questionable if that's an envious position or not. With the juggernaut battle between the Mets and Braves coming down to the wire, with one team winning the NL East and a first-round bye and the other starting with home-field advantage in a Wild Card series, whoever gets the second Wild Card spot is going to be heading to face a really tough, and potentially angry, team on the road.

It will make things interesting for the Phillies when they face the Astros. They could be playing for their playoff lives or jockeying for position. Either way, the games will be meaningful.

Affecting the AL playoffs

There's a similar scenario at play for the American League side of things with the Astros' three-game series against the Rays this weekend. Just like the Phillies, the Rays enter the weekend holding on to the third and final spot in the AL Wild Card race.

Tampa Bay is only 0.5 games back of the Mariners for the second spot and two games back of the Blue Jays for the first Wild Card spot. Farther behind, the Orioles still have a chance for something crazy to happen, sitting five games behind.

So based on the result of their series with the Astros and how the other teams fare this weekend and in the final stretch of games, the Rays have a range of outcomes that could cause havoc in the AL bracket. They could end up taking the top Wild Card spot and hosting a series, traveling to face the Blue Jays, Mariners, or Guardians, or, less likely, missing the playoffs altogether.

This variance in positioning could have ramifications for the Astros directly in the ALDS round as well. The Astros are likely to be favored regardless of the three potential teams they face; however, some matchups would make things easier.

Houston went 2-4 against the Blue Jays this year and are currently up 3-0 on the Rays with the three games remaining in the season series. And while the Astros took the season series 12-7 against division-rival Seattle, that could give the Mariners all the more reason to be ultra-motivated for the ALDS if they faced the Astros.

So, while the Astros may not have any direct milestones to play for other than locking up their top seed, these remaining six games will have plenty of storylines and drama to follow for them and their opponent.

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