Mon Oct 14 2:19pm ET
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland (21) hangs on to the jersey of Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde (23) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. The Houston Texans won 31-24. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Houston Texans tight end Darren Fells (87) is upended by Kansas City Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill (22) and linebacker Damien Wilson (54) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
HOUSTON (AP) Carlos Hyde had a season-high 116 yards rushing with a touchdown this weekend against his former team and the Houston Texans took advantage of Kansas City's porous run defense to pile up 192 yards rushing in the 31-24 win.
Hyde's big day was the latest in a solid start to the season that has helped Houston absorb the loss of Lamar Miller, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game. Hyde ranks 10th in the NFL with 426 yards rushing and has three touchdowns this season.
Hyde is one of two running backs the Texans (4-2) acquired in August trades after they got Duke Johnson from Cleveland early in the month following D'Onta Foreman's release.
Sunday was the fifth 100-yard rushing game of Hyde's career and the first since he ran for 124 yards against Seattle in Week 2 of the 2017 season.
''He runs hard,'' coach Bill O'Brien said. ''He is a good guy. He has learned well, good teammate, tough guy ... he gets his pads down. He gets behind his pads. He wants to do well. It is very important to him.''
Hyde played for both Cleveland and Jacksonville last season before the Jaguars cut him in March. He was picked up by Kansas City in the offseason, but never appeared in a game for the Chiefs after being traded to Houston on Aug. 31.
Hyde, who was a second-round pick in 2014, ran for a career-high 988 yards for the 49ers in 2016 and had 938 yards rushing for them in 2017 before managing just 571 yards rushing last year with the Browns and Jaguars.
After not being as productive as he'd like while bouncing around last season, he's thankful to have found a new home in Houston and is embracing his opportunity.
''They just let me be myself, let me play my game, let me get downhill, do what I do best,'' he said. ''You can't just focus on me ... there are so many other guys on this team that are a threat and can take over the game at any moment. The focus is not just on me. I can just go play my game, play free and just be me.''
Houston's offensive line gave up 18 sacks combined in the first four games but has improved and Deshaun Watson hasn't been sacked in the past two games. It's the first time the Texans haven't allowed a sack in consecutive weeks since the first two games of the 2014 season. Watson continues to show elite playmaking ability and threw for 280 yards and a touchdown and added two rushing scores on Sunday to set the franchise record for most rushing TDs by a quarterback in franchise history.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Texans need to work on ball security after getting the win on Sunday despite turning the ball over three times. Watson, who had just one interception in the first five games, threw two on Sunday and Hyde lost a fumble on Houston's first offensive play.
This comes a week after they fumbled five times but recovered all but one of them.
Receiver DeAndre Hopkins hasn't put up the gaudy numbers he has in past seasons, but he's been valuable to the team for his knack for making plays in big moments. On Sunday he had nine receptions for 55 yards. But seven of those catches were for first downs, including an 8-yard reception on fourth-and-3 with two minutes left that allowed Houston to run out the clock and secure the victory.
Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn continued to struggle on Sunday. Fairbairn missed an extra point for his fourth miss in the past three games. He made a 44-yard field goal against Kansas City, but missed from 46 yards.
''We've got to improve,'' O'Brien said. ''We've got to look at the whole operation technique-wise. We've got to make those kicks ... Ka'imi knows that so we're going to work hard to get better this week.''
CB Johnathan Joseph (hamstring) sat out Sunday. WR Kenny Stills missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury. RT Tytus Howard (knee), CB Bradley Roby (hamstring) and LB Zach Cunningham (knee) left during Sunday's game and O'Brien said he didn't have any updates their conditions.
29 - Watson surpassed 7,500 yards passing (7,508) on Sunday in his 29th game. Only Hall of Famer Kurt Warner reached the mark in fewer games, doing it in the 27th game of his career.
O'Brien was quick to point out that his team has plenty of things to clean up with a trip to AFC South foe Indianapolis coming up this weekend.
''You really just have to take the approach that you have to improve,'' he said. ''It's an improvement league and I think the teams that improve the most over a 16-game season are the ones that end up being where they want to be. If you don't continue with that theme ... then you're going to be in a bind.''
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had an incredible performance against the Tennessee Titans during their Week 10 matchup. He caught 11 of his 19 targets for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Tennessee. He'll get another chance to run over the same team in the AFC Championship matchup on Sunday. Hill hasn't been able to get over 100 yards receiving in a single game since that matchup. DFS players know that Hill has a chance to be a complete bust, but the fact he destroyed Tennessee the first time is hard to ignore. Hill has given DFS players a lot to think about before Sunday's kickoff.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is coming off a three touchdown performance against the Houston Texans last week. He hauled in 10 receptions for 134 yards and three touchdowns in the Divisional Round victory. The Tennessee Titans main focus has to be slowing down Kelce. They allowed seven receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown to Kelce earlier in the season. Kelce isn't going to be cheap for DFS contests, but he's proven all season long that he's worth the risk.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins has been tough to watch all season long. He started off the year with a three touchdown performance, but it was downhill after that. Watkins was only targeted more than five times in a game once over the last five games. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have taken over the passing attack in Kansas City. Watkins was able to haul in five receptions for 39 yards during his regular season matchup against the Titans. DFS players shouldn't expect a better performance out of Watkins this time around.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is set to battle with the Tennessee Titans for the AFC Championship on Sunday. Mahomes is coming off a five touchdown performance against the Houston Texans last week. He's already faced off against the Titans once this season and Mahomes didn't disappoint. He threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns in that game. DFS players should be able to lean on Mahomes to at least be efficient on Sunday. He has a solid chance of being the best quarterback out of the bunch in the division title games.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams is coming off a three touchdown performance against the Houston Texans last week. He rushed 12 times for 47 yards and caught two passes for 21 yards through the air. LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson have been absent from the backfield lately. The Chiefs have been leaning on Williams and it's been paying off. He's been able to find the end zone when he's called upon and piled up 109 yards against the Titans earlier in the season. Fantasy owners are aware that Williams has been up and down this season, but he's red-hot right now. He'll be used in both the rushing and passing attack, so DFS players should give Williams a long look for Sunday's slate.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo has the confidence of former 49ers QB and Hall of Famer Steve Young. 'When they've asked him to raise up and go win it, he did it,' Young said. 'Those are hard things to do. That just doesn't happen. When you see it in the NFL and someone is able to do it, you go, once you've done it, you can do it again. You can keep doing it.'
Fantasy Spin: Jimmy G wasn't a fantasy factor with his 11-of-19, 131-yards, one-TD, one-interception game in the divisional-round playoff win over the Vikings, but that's largely due to the Niners' overwhelming success on the ground (47 rushes-186 yards). When Garoppolo has been forced to pass, he's delivered the majority of the time, and his fantasy numbers Sunday likely will depend on how much the opposing Packers are able to get done against the San Fran defense.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert is the only player since special-teams tackles were first tracked in 2001 to lead his team in rushing yards and special-teams tackles in the same season.
Fantasy Spin: While Mostert is a breakout talent who led the Niners in rushing in each of their last six regular-season games, keep in mind that it was Tevin Coleman who led the squad in rushing attempts (22), yards (105) and touchdown runs (2) in the divisional-round playoff win over the Vikings as Mostert (12-58-0) battled a calf cramp which he said was an after affect of an illness he dealt with the week leading up to the game. In the meantime, it's a plus matchup Sunday against a Packers defense which allowed the ninth-most rushing yards (120.1) per game during the regular season.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry has rushed for 377 yards on 64 carries in two wins this postseason, but Kansas City Chiefs DE Frank Clark says he isn't intimidated heading into the AFC Championship matchup with the Titans on Sunday, Jan. 19. 'He's not hard to hit,' Clark was quoted as saying on NFL Network. 'He's just a big guy -- 240, 245, 250 (pounds). Honestly he should be running harder at his weight and size. I don't see no difficulty in tackling him. ... He's just easy to me up front because I don't look at any running back like they can't be tackled. He's not one of the best guys at breaking tackles to me, honestly.'
Fantasy Spin: Henry is on a truly historic run -- with only Terrell Davis owning more 150-yard postseason games (four) than Henry's three -- and it will be challenge for Clark and the K.C. D, which ranked in the bottom fourth of the league in allowing 128.2 rushing yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry, to slow down -- let alone shut down -- Henry and the run-first Titans.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. likely won't face simple-assault charges for slapping a security officer's buttocks Monday, Jan. 13, as the officer has declined to press charges, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: The Browns -- and OBJ's fantasy dynasty-league owners -- are hoping this the final negative offseason headline the wideout generates for a good while and he starts focusing his energies on improving on his disappointing debut season with Cleveland.
Confirming a previous report, the Dallas Cowboys have hired New Orleans Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan to be their new defensive coordinator. Head coach Mike McCarthy said he plans to run a defense with four down linemen.
New England Patriots CB Jason McCourty (groin) recently underwent surgery on the groin injury that hampered him throughout the 2019 season.
Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has agreed to become the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants, according to a source.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (elbow) fully participated in practice Friday, Jan. 17, and is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Coleman is coming off one of his best games of the season last week and should continue to receive most of the carries in the running game. He should be a starting option in all fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (ankle) fully participated in practice Friday, Jan. 17, and is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle is one of the top options in the passing game for the 49ers and is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (calf) fully participated in practice Friday, Jan. 17, and is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert will have a solid role in the running game against the Green Bay Packers and could see a few targets in the passing game. He has a chance to be a flex option in fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral) was limited during practice Friday, Jan. 17, but is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game. DE Dee Ford (hamstring, quadriceps) fully participated in practice and is not on the injury report.
Green Bay Packers FB Danny Vitale (knee) was limited during practice Friday, Jan. 17, and is listed as questionable for the NFC Championship game. TE Marcedes Lewis (non-injury), LB Preston Smith (ankle) and CB Tramon Williams (non-injury) were limited during practice but are not on the injury report. S Adrian Amos (chest), OT Bryan Bulaga (non-injury), DT Kenny Clark (back), WR Ryan Grant (non-injury), LB Blake Martinez (hand) and OT Billy Turner (ankle) fully participated in practice and are not on the injury report.
Green Bay Packers WR Geronimo Allison (illness) fully participated in practice Friday, Jan. 17, and is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Allison has only been targeted 12 times over the last five games and was held to nine yards in his last game against the San Francisco 49ers. He can be avoided in fantasy leagues.
Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham (non-injury) was limited during practice Friday, Jan. 17, but is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Graham likely will see a handful of targets in the passing game against the San Francisco 49ers and could be a stating option in some fantasy leagues.
The Green Bay Packers Defense faces a tough task this weekend in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. In their regular-season meeting, the Packers gave up 37 points and only dropped Jimmy Garoppolo only three times. They also failed to generate any turnovers. Green Bay's defense may need to lend their offense a helping hand by creating a turnover or two to swing the field position game. If Za-Darius and Preston Smith can ramp up the pressure, the Packers will have a good chance of generating a turnover or two and winning the game. It certainly won't be easy, considering how formidable the 49ers offense has been this season.