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Chiefs look to end playoff woes against Texans

QB Alex Smith says the Chiefs don’t dwell on past playoff losses.

QB Alex Smith says the Chiefs don’t dwell on past playoff losses.

HOUSTON — The previous time the Chiefs won a playoff game Bill Clinton was president and Tonya Harding's ex-husband had just been arrested for hiring someone to attack figure skating rival Nancy Kerrigan.

Kansas City has lost eight postseason games since that win over the Oilers in Houston on Jan. 16, 1994, and will return to the city to face the Texans today in the AFC wild-card round.

The Chiefs, who have won a franchise-record 10 straight games after a 1-5 start, say they won't be thinking about their years of playoffs woes.

"I don't think this team's carrying that weight, to be honest," quarterback Alex Smith said. "Those were the other 22 years and 22 teams. This is us."

So instead of thinking about playoff failures that include Lin Elliott's three field-goal misses against Indianapolis in 1995 and the 28-point lead they blew against the Colts two years ago, they're simply focusing on dealing with Houston.

"Since 1-5, it's been a playoff atmosphere," Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "It was kind of a win or go home type deal. We've been winning for 10 weeks straight — that doesn't guarantee us an 11th win, but we do have some momentum … (but) we have to play our best game if we're going to win in Houston."

The Texans are perhaps this season's most improbable playoff team after winning seven of their past nine games to finish 9-7 and reach the postseason for the first time since 2012.

They did it with four different quarterbacks and after losing star running back Arian Foster to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury in October. Houston's defense, led by NFL sack leader J.J. Watt, allowed a league-low 12.7 points a game in its past nine games.

Kansas City beat Houston 27-20 in the season opener.

"We were down 27-9 in the first half. That's not going to win any playoff games," coach Bill O'Brien said of that first meeting. "I think we have to look at it to learn from some of the things we did there. But we have to make sure we know both teams are very different."

Houston quarterback Brian Hoyer had two turnovers in the first meeting with the Chiefs and was benched in the fourth quarter. Hoyer is back to starting after returning last week following his second concussion in less than a month. He doesn't view this game as a chance at redemption.

"It's not a personal vendetta of me versus the Kansas City Chiefs," Hoyer said. "They played us tough, and it was tough for us to have success against them. So I think if anything that's a challenge, again, to go against these guys."

Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston will play for the first time since Nov. 29, when he hyperextended his knee in a game against Buffalo, and fellow pass rusher Tamba Hali will not be limited after playing a handful of snaps last week following surgery on a broken thumb. That means the Chiefs' defense — allowing 17.9 points, third-best in the NFL — should be even better.

"I know he's excited about the opportunity to get back out there," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said of Houston, an All-Pro last season. "He'll be ready to roll."

Chiefs (11-5) at Texans (9-7), 4:35

TV/radio: Ch. 28, ESPN; 1040-AM

Line/OU: Chiefs by 3; 40

Chiefs look for first playoff win since 1994. They have won franchise-record 10 straight games, longest current streak in NFL. Alex Smith has thrown for 873 yards with nine TDs and no INTs in three career playoff games. He's 3-0 against Texans as starter. Jeremy Maclin set franchise record with career-high 87 catches for 1,088 yards and eight TDs. Travis Kelce had career-high 72 catches to join Tony Gonzalez as only K.C. tight ends with 70 or more in single season. Rookie CB Marcus Peters tied for first in NFL with eight INTs, two of those returned for TDs. LB Justin Houston — 22½ sacks, four forced fumbles and two INTs in his past 21 games — is expected to return after missing past five games with knee injury. Texans won AFC South for third time and first since 2012. Brian Hoyer, who threw for career-high 19 TDs in 2015, makes playoff debut. Alfred Blue has career-high 698 yards rushing. DE J.J. Watt led NFL with 17½ sacks. LB Whitney Mercilus had career-high 12 sacks to make Houston only team with two players with at least 12 sacks.

Chiefs look to end playoff woes against Texans 01/08/16 [Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2016 9:44pm]
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