The NFL kicks off on Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium in front of around 17,000 fans. As a result of Covid-19 restrictions, the Chiefs are allowing 17,000 into the facility. Fans that buy a suite must have a negative test before being allowed in.
At least the Chiefs will have fans in attendance at Arrowhead, though. There are a handful of teams that are giving the greenlight, while others are waiting to see where the pandemic goes in the fall.
It might be only 17,000, but it’s going to feel different after watching sports with no fans at all for the last two months. The NFL opener pits the visiting Houston Texans against the defending Super Bowl Champions.
The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 31-20 in Miami. Other than Patrick Mahomes running around losing yards at the end of the game to kill clock and kill a yardage prop of mine, it was an entertaining Super Bowl in the second half.
The Chiefs erased a 20-10 deficit in the 4th quarter to steal the Vince Lombardi trophy away from Jimmy G and company. They proved to be the best team all season long, and certainly didn’t win the Super Bowl based on a fluke. Patrick Mahomes deserved the ring and he deserved the contract extension.
Mahomes was signed for a mind boggling $503 million in the offseason. The Chiefs wanted to make sure Mahomes wasn’t going to be going anywhere. They will welcome a Texans team to Arrowhead that they met with in the playoffs last year.
The Chiefs ran away with a 51-31 win on the back of a 321-yard and 5-touchdown effort by Mahomes. I was on the OVER, so not many complaints with that result. Mahomes passed for 321 yards on 23 for 35 passing, while rushing for 53 yards on 7 carries. What do the Chiefs do for an encore in 2020?
The New England Patriots are the last team to win back-to-back Super Bowls in 2002-2003. The Chiefs want to end the 16-year drought and put a dynasty together for the next decade. I don’t know if the Chiefs are going to dominate for over a decade like the Patriots, but they’re going to be a tough team to beat in the foreseeable future. Their season win total is set at 11.5 going into the year.
However, a hungry Texans team looking for a small piece of revenge after getting blown out last year are in town. Deshaun Watson and Mahomes on the field is a terrific way to get the 2020 NFL season started underway. Head below for our free Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs pick for NFL Week 1.
Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs NFL Week 1 Betting Odds:
Houston Texans vs. KC Chiefs Prediction:
The Kansas City Chiefs are going to have their usual suspects in the passing game. Mahomes will have a full supply of weapons at his disposal on Thursday night. How quickly they gel again is going to be the question. Without normal prep going into this season, it could take them a game or two to fire on all cylinders.
Having said that, the Chiefs are stacked with talent on offense, including the return of Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Sammy Watkins. The Chiefs were second in the NFL with 29.9 points per game in 2019. The Baltimore Ravens were the only team that scored more points in the regular season. Mahomes led the way with 26 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 14 games. He missed some time due to an ankle injury, but wasn’t bothered by it after returning.
The one new face to the offense, who will be mentioned often throughout the telecast, is running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. 21-year-old Edwards-Helaire was the Chiefs’ first-round selection in the recent draft. There were several talented running backs on the board at the time, and the Chiefs decided to make Edwards-Helaire the 32nd pick of the draft.
The national champion didn’t get nearly as much recognition as Joe Burrow on that LSU team, but make no mistake, Edwards-Helaire played a significant role. He will be the No. 1 running back on the depth chart going into Thursday night. My only concern is Edwards-Helaire picking up blitzing linebackers. It can be a lot more confusing than deciphering college blitz packages. The Texans are going to throw a lot at him in this game.
Another thing worth mentioning is the absence of guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif on the offensive line. He opted out of the season to work as a doctor at a long-term care home in Quebec, and is going to be taking online classes at Harvard. It’s not significant, but that does remove a reliable veteran from the offensive line who knows the offense well.
Deshaun Watson threw for 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, while rushing for 413 yards and 7 scores on the ground. With a four-year $175 million contract in hand, Watson will be counted on to take the Texans to the next level. A lot is being made of DeAndre Hopkins going to Arizona, but there is still talent to be bad offensively in Houston.
Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, and Kenny Stills should provide the Texans with enough in the receiving core. They also brought in Brandin Cooks, who is questionable to play on Thursday night. David Johnson was acquired in the Hopkins trade, and hopes to duplicate what he did in 2016 when he rushed for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield should be a major asset for the offense.
The Arrowhead crowd is not going to be at capacity, with only 17,000 people in attendance. That’s not going to disrupt or bother Watson and the Texans’ offense. On a typical night, yes, the noise would be a problem. That is not going to be the case in the season opener tonight, though.
This looks like too many points to lay on the Chiefs. Hopkins is good, but his loss doesn’t turn the Texans into a bad offense. The Texans are going to put up points without Hopkins. There should also be a motivational angle for the Texans after they got smacked in Kansas City in the playoffs. I’m anticipating a 27-20 or 34-27 game, so the points look awfully attractive in this spot.