Houston (0-0) at Kansas City (0-0)
When: Thursday, September 10th, 2020
Where: Arrowhead Stadium,
Kansas City, MO
Time: 8:20 ET | TV: NBC
Opening Odds: Kansas City -11/55.5
We’ve been waiting since February for some NFL action and we finally get it this Thursday night in the annual NFL Kickoff Game. The team we saw walking away with the Lombardi Trophy seven months ago – the Kansas City Chiefs – will host the Houston Texans in front of a sparse crowd at Arrowhead Stadium. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs opened as 11-point favorites early in the summer with a total of 55, but that has been bet down to 9.5 and 54 respectively. Reigning Super Bowl champions are 12-3 in the Kickoff Game and this will be Kansas City’s second time in it, while Houston plays for the first time. In 2017, the Chiefs were heavy underdogs at defending champion New England but won 42-27. These teams split two matchups last season, both in Kansas City.
In Week 6, the Texans were 31-24 upset winners, as quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 280 yards and a score and rushed for two touchdowns. Carlos Hyde ran for 116 yards and a TD, but he’s now with Seattle. Mahomes threw for 273 yards and three TDs, but completed just over half his passes. Unusual outing for him. Then cam the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The Texans looked like they were going to shock the world with a 24-0 second-quarter lead but then Kansas City scored 41 straight points and won 51-31. Mahomes threw for 321 yards and five TDs, with three of those to Travis Kelce. The road team is 9-3 ATS in the past 12 meetings. Kansas City returns 17 of 22 starters from a squad that rallied to win all three of its postseason games by double digits.
One huge piece missing from the Texans roster this year is Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was traded to Arizona this past winter for running back David Johnson and draft picks. Johnson will be Houston’s featured back, but hasn’t live up to his terrific 2016 season that eventually earned him a huge contract. Watson will have two new starting wideouts that will try to make up for the loss of Hopkins – Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. The defense is once again led by JJ Watt, who is one of the favorites to win a record fourth NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. He’s healthy now after being limited to eight games or fewer in three of the past four seasons. Houston has won the AFC South division in each of the last four seasons. Last year, they finished the regular season 10-6 and reached the divisional round.
The five starters missing from last year’s Super Bowl team are offensive linemen Stefan Wisniewski and Reggie Ragland (free agency). Running back Damien Williams and offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif have opted-out of the season and cornerback Bashaud Breeland is suspended the first four games. The Chiefs drafted Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd overall pick in this year’s draft to take over rushing duties. Mahomes is now the highest-paid player in NFL history and has a big group of skill players around him including receivers Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman, along with Kelce at tight end. Mahomes finished the 2019 season with 4,031 passing yards and 26 passing touchdowns against just five interceptions. The Chiefs’ defense looks to improve with Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill in the secondary and Chris Jones up front.
Although I do like taking Houston when on the road (9-3 ATS L12 as a non-division road dog), I’m too scared of this Kansas City offense. No matter how bad their defense can be at times and how far they get behind, they always seem to rally and not only win, but cover. They have covered nine straight games since last season and are 4-1 ATS in their last five season openers. I’ll lay the points here and watch them roll to victory.
Pick: Chiefs -9.5
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