Houston, Texas- In week six of the regular season, the Houston Texans went to Arrowhead Stadium and defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-24. That win against the Chiefs proved to be a step in the right direction for the Texans who showed they could beat some of the league's best teams.
The Texans this Sunday will make their second trip to Arrowhead on Sunday to face the Chiefs. It is now a much more important game in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
The identities of both teams have changed since that point in their week six matchup. The Texans have gone 6-4 since that point which includes a week 17 loss that saw the core of their team rested, while the Chiefs finished 8-2 winning six straight to close out the season.
The changes have been noticed on both sides heading into the weekend, and head coach Bill O'Brien says the Chiefs, like the Texans, have improved since that point.
"I'm still watching them a lot," O'Brien said of the Chiefs. "At the end of the day, I think that as the season goes on the – as I've said to you guys a lot over the years, it's all about improvement. It's those teams that can continue to get better and play 60 minutes and have great quarterbacks and those types of things."
O'Brien continued, "Those are the teams that are going to be in it in the end, and I think that's what the league's all about. The Chiefs, the Texans, anybody that's left has improved in areas, maybe a lot of areas, but I think the league is all about improvement."
In the first meeting, the Chiefs did not have one of their top defensive linemen in Chris Jones or linebacker Anthony Hitchens. In contrast, the Texans did not have cornerbacks Gareon Conley, Vernon Hargreaves III, and Bradley Roby left the game with a hamstring injury in the first half.
O'Brien and the Texans staff are going to use that game as a reference point for their game plan heading into this weekend.
"I think since it happened this year," O'Brien started. "You have to watch the game and see relative to what you did in that game, what they did, and then, relative to what is going on right now with both teams. I do think that both teams are different. I do think that over the course of a season, based on a lot of things, whether it's injuries or scheme or whatever, that things can change, but you definitely have to go back and look at that as a reference point."
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Chiefs head coach Andy Reid understands both teams are two different groups from that first matchup.
"I think it changes throughout the season," Reid said of both the team's identities. "They develop their personality, and we've all got the highs and the lows and you kind of work through that. We're not the same as we were at the beginning, they're not the same as they were at the beginning, so here we go. Right?"
The Chiefs are 1-7 in the playoffs at Arrowhead since 1995, while the Texans are 0-3 in their Divisional Round playoff history.
The Texans are preparing for a different outcome, and O'Brien is expecting his team to be dialed in and ready to go for a chance at the next step in the playoffs.
"I think that these guys really understand the opportunity in front of them," O'Brien continued. "They understand what it's going to take in Arrowhead Stadium against a great football team. We feel like we have a good football team, and we feel like if we have a good week of practice that we go up there – we'll be in a very competitive ballgame. But I think these guys are very appreciative of the opportunity, and they're going to do everything they can to try to take advantage of it."
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