Texans vs. Chiefs Thursday Night Football betting odds and pick
You can finally breathe a sigh of relief. The 2020 NFL season will kick off Thursday, almost exactly as planned, with the Houston Texans at the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs rightfully head in as 9-point favorites in the Thursday Night Football matchup hosted at Arrowhead under reduced fan capacity (about 22%).
In front of the much smaller crowd, Kansas City will welcome back the core of its high-flying offense, including quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who signed a record-breaking 10-year, $477 million contract this offseason.
Fri, September 11 2020, 12:20 AM
Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs’ championship squad back for more in 2020
The only major offensive weapon not returning is running back Damien Williams (711 yards from scrimmage, seven total touchdowns), who opted out of the season because of COVID-19. Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire is his replacement in the backfield. CEH rushed for 1,414 yards and 16 scores as part of LSU’s national championship offense.
The offensive line also experienced turnover with guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, another 2020 opt-out. Guard Andrew Wylie will move to Duvernay-Tardif's old spot on the field, and former Jets lineman Kelechi Osemele will slot in where Wylie played last season.
The defense will be without Bashaud Breeland, who is serving a four-week suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Cornerback Kendall Fuller also left in free agency and will be replaced by Giants cornerback Antonio Hamilton.
Kansas City struggled against the run last season, though their pass defense made substantial strides. The Chiefs surrendered 128.2 yards per game on the ground (26th in the league) but ranked eighth in fewest passing yards allowed (221.4).
The Chiefs’ weakness could be Houston’s strength
Last season, the Texans exploited the Chiefs’ porous run stop unit in a 31-24 Houston victory in Week 6. Houston running back Carlos Hyde ran for 116 yards and one touchdown, while quarterback Deshaun Watson rushed for two scores.
Meanwhile, Mahomes was hobbled with a sore left ankle and threw for 273 yards on 54% passing against one of the worst secondaries in the NFL.
This time out, the Texans have added a new weapon in the run game: Pro Bowl back David Johnson.
Head coach Bill O’Brien infamously traded away star receiver DeAndre Hopkins (1,165 yards, 104 catches) to the Cardinals in exchange for Johnson this offseason. The Texans picked up receivers Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb in free agency, but those two hardly compensate for the departure of Watson’s longtime favorite target.
Houston promoted defensive line coach Anthony Weaver to defensive coordinator but didn’t bolster the depth of the defense. In 2019, the Texans ranked 25th against the run (121.1 yards per game) and 29th against the pass (267.3 yards per game).
That doesn’t bode well for a Week 1 showdown against Mahomes and company.
Expect the Chiefs to dominate
The first glimpse at O’Brien’s mysterious offseason plan will be reason to tune in, but the Chiefs should dominate this matchup from the start. If you’re tempted to base your wager on last season’s Week 6 meeting, don’t forget what happened in the Divisional Round, when Mahomes was fully healthy.
Even with a cold first quarter, the quarterback finished with 321 yards, five touchdowns, and rushed for 53 yards in the Chiefs’ 51-21 come-from-behind win.
It’s also important to note the Over is 5-0 in the Chiefs’ last five games in Week 1.
Expect another onslaught in a statement win by Kansas City.
Predicted score: Chiefs 38 / Texans 24