**Game was updated at 11:40amET to reflect changes in line movements and injuries**
The Houston Texans will travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs to open the season in a rematch from last season’s AFC Divisional playoff game. These teams played twice last season, with both meetings taking place in Kansas City. The Texans won 31-24 as a 3.5-point underdog during the regular season on Oct. 12. The teams met again in the playoffs on Jan. 12, and the wild results from that match-up will go down in NFL history. The Texans jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the second quarter before the Chiefs went on to score four touchdowns in less than the next nine minutes to take a 28-24 half-time lead and go on to a 51-31 win.
With the comeback rout, the Chiefs became the only team in NFL playoff history to win a game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 20 points.
This game will also feature a match-up between two franchise quarterbacks who signed the largest contracts of the 2020 offseason.
O' Brien enters season with more power in HoustonThe Houston Texans went 10-6 last season, qualifying for the playoffs for the fourth time out of their last five seasons. In the Wild Card playoff game, Houston beat the Buffalo Bills 22-19 in overtime, before the loss to the Chiefs ended their season.
Houston made it clear that Deshaun Watson is their franchise quarterback of the present and future with a four-year $160 million contract extension that was recently announced. Watson threw for 3,852 yards, 26 TDs, and 12 INTs in 2019 while adding 413 yards and seven touchdowns with his feet.
Shortly after having their 2019 season ended, the Texans announced that they were adding the role of General Manager to their Head coach Bill O’ Brien. O’ Brien has a 52-44 regular season and 2-4 playoff record in six seasons as the Texans’ head coach. One of O’ Brien’s first manager moves of the offseason was controversial when he traded start wide-receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson. Deandre Hopkins caught 104 passes for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019 and had 632 receptions for 8,602 yards and 54 TDs in his seven-year career, all with Houston. The Texans also received a second-round pick in the trade, that they used to select TCU defensive-tackle Ross Blacklock and a fourth-round pick for 2021. The Cardinals also picked up a fourth-round pick from Houston that they used to choose Rashard Lawrence a DT from LSU in the 2020 draft.
David Johnson rushed for 345 yards, with two touchdowns, while averaging 3.7 yards per carry last season, and caught 36 passes for 370 yards with four additional touchdowns.
With the loss of Hopkins, the Texans receiving core will be led by free-agent acquisition Randall Cobb who had 55 catches, 828 yards, and three touchdowns with Dallas last season, and Will Fuller V, who caught 49 passes for 670 yards and three touchdowns.
Houston also added veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the Rams for a second-round pick and if he can stay healthy, he could be a strong number two target. From 2015-18, Cooks averaged 77 receptions, 1,149 yards and seven touchdowns per season. However, last season, Cooks caught a career-low 42 catches due to concussion issues. He is also listed as questionable this week due to a quad injury.
In a more fan-friendly and less controversial move, Houston made it clear that Deshaun Watson is their franchise quarterback of the present and future with a four-year 160 million dollar contract extension that was recently announced. Watson threw for 3,852 yards, 26 TDs, and 12 INTs in 2019 while adding 413 yards and seven touchdowns with his feet.
The Texans finished 28th in the NFL, allowing 392.9 yards per game last season and 23rd in scoring defense, allowing 25.3 ppg. The Texans return franchise legend J.J Watt (24 tackles, 4.0 sacks in 2019), who missed eight games last season with a torn pectoral muscle. If Watt can stay healthy, linebacker Whitney Mercilus who had 48 tackles and 7.5 sacks last season, should have a good year.
In the secondary, the Texans decided not to bring back 36-year old cornerback Johnathan Joseph in the offseason but did re-sign Bradley Roy and Vernon Hargreaves, along with a group of rookies led by fourth-round pick John Reid.
Chiefs favored to repeat as Super Bowl champsThe Chiefs went 12-4 during the regular season. After earning a first-round bye and defeating the Houston Texans, the Chiefs went on to beat the Tennessee Titans 35-24 in the AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs played the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV and found themselves trailing 20-10 with only 8:53 left in the game. The Chiefs would work their magic again, scoring three touchdowns in the game's final minutes and completing the mission by defeating the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV. The win was the organization's first Super Bowl title since 1970. The Chiefs enter this season as+650 favorites to repeat.
The Chiefs were led by their explosive offense last season, ranking second in the NFL at 29.9 ppg, which was down from the 34.8 ppg they put up in 2018. The Chiefs were fourth with 282.8 passing yards per game and 22nd with 101.5 rushing yards per game. The Chiefs did not bring back running back Damien Williams, who led the team with 498 rushing yards, but the ground game should be better with the addition of the only running back taken in the first round of the 2020 draft, Clyde Edward-Helaire from LSU.
The Chiefs are led by 2018 NFL MVP and last year's Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes who threw for 4,031 yards, 26 TDs, and 5 INTs during the regular season and an additional 901 yards, 10 TD and 2 INTs in the playoffs. Mahomes and the Chiefs agreed to a record 10 year $503 million contract extension during the offseason.
The teams two other top offensive weapons, tight end Travis Kelce (97 REC, 1,229 yards, 5 TDs), signed an extension as well, and Tyreek Hill (58 REC, 860 yards, 7 TDs in 12 games) contract was extended before last season.
The Chiefs will look to attack a Houston defense now coached by new DC Anthony Weaver.
“Yeah, so Anthony Weaver is a heck of a football coach, was a heck of a player, and now he’s having a chance to coordinate,” head coach Andy Reid told reporters on Monday. “So, as there is with every first game, there’s some unknown. I think they’d probably tell you the same thing. But you go in and you’ve got to stay true to what you do and be able to execute—both sides of the ball and special teams—knowing that there could be a wrinkle here or there.”
Defensively, the Chiefs were 10th in scoring, allowing 20.2 ppg. Against the pass, they allowed 226.9 ypg, which was 13th in the league, and 25th against the rush allowing 124.8 ypg. The unit could be better this season under their second year with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
- Chiefs are 7-0-1 ATS in their last 8 games as a favorite
- Chiefs are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games in September
- Chiefs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in Week 1
- Texans are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 Thursday games