KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs and Texans kickoff at 2:05 p.m. central time with the opportunity to host the AFC Championship game next week on the line.
Kansas City enters the game as 9.5-point favorites but as Tennessee's upset over Baltimore illustrated Saturday night, no outcome is guaranteed in the NFL.
When the Chiefs have the ball: Suspect Houston Texans Defense a Target for Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs Offense
When the Texans have the ball: Deshaun Watson, Texans Offense Squares Off vs. Surging Chiefs Defense
Chris Jones out for Chiefs
The Chiefs received a blow before the game with defensive tackle Chris Jones ruled out for the contest after tweaking his right calf in practice Thursday. Mike Pennel lined up in place of Jones during warmups, but expect a rotation of Pennel, Khalen Saunders and Xavier Williams to fill the void. Tanoh Kpassagnon will like kick inside in obvious passing situations.
Left guard Andrew Wylie, who was full participant in practice this week, is also among the inactives. Tight end Travis Kelce, who was limited this week with a bruise knee, is active and will start for Kanas City.
The full inactive list for the Chiefs: Jones, Wylie, quarterback Chad Henne, cornerback Morris Claiborne, linebacker Darron Lee and offensive linemen Jackson Barton and Ryan Hunter.
Will Fuller back for Texans
The Texans will have their receiving trio back for this game with both Will Fuller (groin) and Kenny Stills (knee) active. Fuller sat out last week's playoff victory against Buffalo. Fuller had just five catches for 44 yards against the Chiefs in Week 6, but the normally sure-handed receiver had a couple of big drops in that game.
Texans inactive list: safety Jahleel Addae, tight end Jordan Akins, wide receiver Steven Mitchell, cornerback Cornell Armstrong, offensive tackle Elijah Nkansah, defensive end Carlos Watkins and nose tackle Eddie Vanderdoes.
Stefen Wisniewski is starting at left guard for the Chiefs for the third-straight game. The club doesn't have any lineup changes on the offensive side of the ball.
Pennel appears likely to start for Jones at defensive tackle, but expect the usual heavy rotation there. Kendall Fuller lined up at safety during warmups in place of injured Juan Thornhill. The Chiefs expect to mix in Dan Sorensen and Armani Watts at safety as well.
Chiefs open up in a nickel defense with Tyrann Mathieu, Kendall Fuller and Dan Sorensen safety and Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson at linebacker. That's consistent with the team's recent schematic trends while compensating for the loss of Juan Thornhill.
Chiefs stacked the line and simply lost track of Kenny Stills. He was waving for the ball as soon as he cleared the secondary. Completely blow coverage, 54-yard touchdown, Texans lead 7-0, 11:59 left in the first.
Kansas City's first drive ends in total disaster. A false start on Eric Fisher contributed to a third-and-6, and Patrick Mahomes forced to burn a timeout with the play clock running down. Kelce drops an wide open third-down conversion, then Barkevious Mingo blocks the punt, which Lonnie Johnson returns for a touchdown. Chiefs look completely off guard early, 14-0 Texans with 10:06 left in first.
Chiefs second drive fared better, but still ends with a punt. Demarcus Robinson dropped a catchable ball on third-and-5 for what would have been a first down. Texans 2-for-2, Chiefs 0-for-2 on third downs early.
Texans are pounding the ball up the middle early, directly where Chris Jones would normally be. Carlos Hyde four carries for 21 yards early, Texans have 43 yards rushing so far.
Muffed punt leads to another Texans' touchdown. Tyreek Hill muffing a punt is beyond the world out of character. Chiefs have lost by more than seven points just twice in the past four seasons.
Tyreek Hill took a crushing hit on a third-down attempt but appears to be OK. He walked off the field under his own power and went to the bench. He spoke with trainers and medical staff but is now on the bench with the remainder of the offense.
End of first quarter, Texans 21, Chiefs 0
The Chiefs get a stop on third down and hold the Texans to a field goal, making it a 24-0 game. The biggest comeback in Chiefs' franchise history is 21 points, which came in a 33-27 overtime victory in the season opener against the Chargers in 2016. The Chiefs trailed 24-3 in that contest.
The Chiefs haven't had to lean on their fastbreak offense as much this season, but Kansas City just showed its quick-strike ability on that drive. Mecole Hardman gets it jumpstarted with a 58-yard kickoff return, and Mahomes needs two plays to get into the end zone. The Texans have been defending running back Damien Williams with a linebacker, and Mahomes salivates when he sees that matchup. A 17-yard touchdown pass to Williams brings some semblance of order back to Arrowhead Stadium, but Texans still lead 24-7 with 9:55 left in the second.
Dan Sorensen with a fantastic read to sniff out the Texans' fake punt. If the Chiefs get back in this game, that's a back-breaker. Not sure what Texans head coach Bill O'Brien thinking in that situation.
Chiefs now have two touchdowns in their last four offensive plays as Mahomes takes advantage of the field position off the fake punt. A big pass interference penalty on Lonnie Johnson against Kelce helped up set up the score. Chiefs back in business trailing 24-14 with 8:05 remaining in the second quarter. Chiefs will also get the ball starting the second half.
Rain beginning to fall as the Chiefs kickoff.
And the Texans with another back-breaking miscue. DeAndre Carter coughs up the football after a hit from Ben Niemann and Darwin Thompson recovers. Chiefs back in business.
Make it three touchdowns in their last seven offensive plays. The Chiefs take advantage of the stop on the fake punt for 6-yard touchdown drive, finished off by the Mahomes to Kelce connection for the second time today. Chiefs have pulled within 24-21 with 6:31 left in the half.
As frustrated the Chiefs appeared in the first quarter, the Texans have given it right back. Houston nearly gives the ball away on an ill-advised lateral by DeAndre Hopkins to Deshaun Watson, and the Chiefs get the ball after the punt on their 10-yard line with a chance to take the lead.
The Chiefs have completed the largest comeback in franchise history. Trailing 24-0, Kansas scores 28 unanswered points. Mahomes scrambled before tossing the ball to Kelce for their third touchdown of the day. Mahomes nearly crossed the line of scrimmage, but so long as any part of the passer's body is behind the line, it's a legal pass.
Chiefs lead 28-24 with 44 seconds remaining and get the ball starting the second half.
Ka-imi Fairbairn leaves a 51-yard field goal try wide right and the Chiefs head to halftime with a 28-24 lead. Kansas City ran 16 offensive plays in the second quarter, scoring four touchdowns. The Chiefs held the ball for just 4:50 of the second quarter. Chiefs start the second half with a chance to expand their lead.
Halftime: Chiefs 28, Texans 24
The Chiefs picked up right where they left off in the first half, marching 85 yards in 3:36 to extend their lead to 34-24. Harrison Butker sailed the extra point wide left.
Damien Williams took it into the end zone for a 1-yard run and drew a flag for taunting after the play. Head coach Andy Reid had words for Williams on the sideline.
Butker made up for the missed extra point and Williams' penalty by putting the kickoff on the goal line, a boot of 80 yards.
Kelce briefly left the game with a hamstring injury, and the club announced him questionable to return. He's back in there now.
The Chiefs could do not right for the first 20 minutes of this game, and now they can do no wrong. They have scored touchdowns on their last six offensive drives in turning a 24-0 deficit into a 41-24 lead with 4:39 left in the third quarter.
Frank Clark picked up his second sack of the game in the third quarter on a relentless pursuit of Watson that took three tries before he corraled him. NFL Next Gen Stats says Clark ran 42.2 yards on the play, the second-most traveled for a sack this season.
Chiefs make it seven straight drives, seven touchdowns on an 8-yard pass from Mahomes to backup tight end Blake Bell. That makes them the first team in NFL postseason history to score touchdowns on seven straight possessions.