Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs Pick ATS 9/10/20

by | Sep 10, 2020 | nfl

Houston Texans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)

Week 1 NFL

Date/Time: Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 8:20PM EDT

Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

TV: NBC

Point Spread: HOU -9.5/KC +9.5 (Find Best Sportsbooks)

Over/Under Total: 54

The Houston Texans come to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs to kick off the 2020 NFL regular season on Thursday Night Football. It will indeed be a glorious sight to see NFL football, and though the conditions aren’t ideal, we’ll take it gladly. We see two quarterbacks fresh off signing mega-million nine-figure deals, ready to take their teams to glory. Patrick Mahomes already has and now gets to the difficult business of repeating. Meanwhile, Houston has won their division four of the last five seasons and looks for something more in 2020. Who can get this season off to a good start on Thursday?

Changes From 2019

In the last offseason, sensing they were close, the Chiefs made some key moves to put them over the top, and it came off great, especially in getting Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu to tighten up a dodgy defense. Having perfected the formula, this was a more-quiet offseason. The addition of Clyde-Edwards-Helaire could give them an upgrade at tailback. We’ll see if G Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff opting out will hurt, as that line can ill afford setbacks. But you’re basically looking at the same personnel that won the Super Bowl last season.

For a team knocking on the door for several seasons, I’m not sure about the quality of the Texans’ offseason in terms of personnel. Sometimes when watching this offense over the years, DeAndre Hopkins was really their fail-safe, and trading him in the offseason for what appears to be a spent force in RB David Johnson left many people puzzled. And while you can do a lot worse than Brandin Cooks as a replacement, he isn’t the same reliable possession guy that Hopkins was. So while Deshaun Watson is a definite star, does he have enough with which to work with Johnson, Cooks, Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, Randall Cobb, and Duke Johnson? Maybe it is. If Fuller can stay healthy, with Cooks and Cobb having good seasons, it could work, along with a rebirth from David Johnson. Seems to be asking a lot, though.

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Clues from Last Season

It’s notable that these two non-division teams played twice last season, once in the regular season and again in the playoffs. In week six, the Texans marched into KC and won 31-24. Mahomes was hobbled, but Houston really made a point with the win. In the playoffs, Houston got off to a 24-0 lead, before a healthy Mahomes and the Chiefs went on a rampage and blew Houston out, 51-31. But this game is in Arrowhead, as the last two games were where Houston showed they can definitely compete, first beating KC in a tough game, before almost taking them out early in a playoff game before falling apart. It would appear at root that the Texans have something for the Chiefs. If you look at it, they may have been the Chiefs toughest rival last season, and only a well-timed turnaround and legendary playoff explosion of offense saved them from Houston really spoiling their season.

Things Houston Does Right Against Kansas City

With 658 yards in two games, Watson was able to sling it against KC last season, even with their improved defense. Watson sometimes had a way of making the Chiefs’ defense look like the deficient unit of 2018. His variety of differently-abled ball-catchers resonated well, as did their run-game in spots. And there were spells where the Houston “D” was able to bottle up the KC run-game and put a lot of pressure on Mahomes. At least up until the point where they took a 24-0 lead in the divisional playoff game.

Matchup Issues for Houston

With Kansas City enhancing their playmaking potential on defense, we saw Watson turn the ball over against the Chiefs last season. Other times, he was a bit errant against an improved KC secondary. Last season, a big part of the Texans’ success was running the ball, an area that has fallen into some uncertainty with Johnson back there now. And in watching both games last season, we saw how important the clutch receptions of Hopkins were, and they are now without that.

In 2019, we saw a Houston defense that would sometimes hold up well, but could really hit low depths when exploited. This was really seen in their games against KC, where they oscillated between being respectable to being laughable in spots. A healthy JJ Watt, who still has a lot of fire when he’s right, is a big asset. But projected improvement from a handful of guys has been elusive, particularly in the secondary, an area of enhanced concern when playing Mahomes with the best in the biz with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and others. With Watt healthy, they are better, but it’s still perhaps the weakest defense of any team where you can make a real playoff case.

Game One Intangibles

Again, it’s a weird time, and with this being the first game of the season, it’s unclear how that will resonate. That crowd is usually a big deal in KC, and after winning the Super Bowl, it would be really raucous, and now they’re denied that boost. You have to wonder about the concept of Super Bowl Hangover, though that’s not the easiest element to process in individual games. It’s just not an easy game to break down for some reason.

Take the Points

Without the urgency of playoff elimination, Houston hung in there well twice at Arrowhead last season. Without a crowd and still burping up the taste of championship champagne, I’m not sure this is the best spot to lay a big number on the Chiefs. Not that those moments won’t surface later, but I think Houston gives KC enough trouble that a competitive-type game should ensue in this setting. I’ll take the Texans and the points.

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