NFL Game of the Week: Chiefs vs. Texans

Story posted September 9, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeremy Ganes

The NFL is finally back for what is probably the strangest season in recent memory. Whereas basketball, hockey and baseball all had their seasons directly paused or delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, football was just beginning to make preparations for 2020 with free agency. There was a lot of uncertainty about being able to play a season, as a bubble proved to be an unattainable method of play, and the decisions to ultimately cancel the preseason and delay any in-person drills until July were made.

But we have finally made it. The NFL season kicks off with the Houston Texans visiting the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. Let’s breakdown every key storyline of this superb opening night battle.

These two teams are known for their high-scoring offenses and dynamic quarterbacks, so points should be the name of this game. Of course, Patrick Mahomes, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, leads arguably the most electric offense in football, and the unit has only improved since it lifted the Lombardi Trophy.

The Chiefs have been able to move the ball through the air since Mahomes became the starter, but the team has added serious talent to its running back room, indicating that head coach Andy Reid is looking to balance out his offense a bit more. Kansas City used its first-round selection on Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a very talented halfback out of LSU, and outside observers have high expectations for what he can do.

Conversely, the Texans are a talented offensive team that seems to have taken a step back. Houston has always had defensive talent, but the core of its recent success has been the playmaking magic of quarterback Deshaun Watson, which makes it so confusing that they shipped off his top receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona. It is not worth taking the time to try and work through the long-term effects of this move, but in the short-term, there are some serious doubts about the impact running back David Johnson, who Houston received in return for Hopkins, can have. Johnson last played a full 16 games in 2018, and he failed to break 1,000 rushing yards that year. Other than his 2016 breakout year, he has either been hurt or less than stellar.

Beyond him, Watson is left with a nice receiver group of Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller V and Randall Cobb. While all those pass catchers make for a deep group, there’s just no replacing D-Hop in his prime.

The Chiefs return a defense with lots of talent on the front seven, such as defensive tackle and end Frank Clark. This unit may be very talented, but they shouldn’t be relied on to make more than a few stops in any one game this year. That shouldn’t be a problem with the electrifying offense.

Houston, meanwhile, brings back J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus on the first two levels of the defense, with cornerback Vernon Hargreaves leading the secondary. This defense is solid but simply not dominant enough to shut down Mahomes and company.

In the end, it all comes down to who can make the biggest plays, and that’s Patrick Mahomes. Watson will keep his squad in this game until the middle of the fourth quarter, but Mahomes will lead a scoring drive to put the game out of reach late, and the Chiefs will take home the first victory of the wild and wacky 2020 NFL season.

Prediction: Chiefs 34, Texans 24

 

Jeremy Ganes is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jlg6097@psu.edu.