Without a preseason in 2020, the NFL season has crept up on many. But on Thursday night, the season will kick off with a bang. The Chiefs and Texans go head-to-head, which means the recently-minted two highest-paid players in the NFL will be going at it as opposing quarterbacks.
Over 54.5 Total Points @ -110
Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs Predictions
Best Bet: Over 54.5 Total Points @ -110
- Kansas City and Houston met twice in 2019 and both went over 54.5 points.
The over/under for this game sits at a very high 54.5, though it opened a couple of points higher. The Chiefs are 9.5-point favorites at home in a rematch of two contests in Kansas City last year. The more memorable of the two was of course a wild Divisional Round playoff matchup where the Texans took an early 24-0 lead only to eventually lose 51-31 as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense came alive.
These teams also met in Kansas City in Week 6, and Deshaun Watson and the Texans were able to pull the upset, 31-24. Mahomes was nursing an ankle injury in that game, and there was controversy surrounding a potential defensive holding or pass interference call in the second quarter that instead amounted to a Mahomes interception, in what became a key play in the game.
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Over the past two years, the Thursday night season openers have been lower-scoring contests, which might give you pause when seeing the high over/under here. But that has not always been the case. Five times in the past decade, the teams in the Thursday night opener combined for at least 49 points, and three of those games broke 70.
The line movement might be a result of the high opening total, and might also be concern over the lack of practice time with a shortened offseason. But that limited preparation also impacts defenses, particularly in the secondary where communication is key. In the best comparable situation to this shortened offseason — a player lockout that shortened the 2011 offseason program — we actually saw more scoring early on in the regular season. Over the first two weeks of 2011, the average game total was 46.9, at least two full points higher than any other season from 2008 to 2014, with one exception. The only year in that range where there was more early scoring was 2012, but that year had its own quirk — a referee lockout that season meant the games were played with replacement officials.
Both Kansas City and Houston come into 2020 with stability at quarterback and returning head coaches, and I expect both offenses to be at an advantage early in the season as a result. Both teams also get aggressive when trailing, so there's clear shootout potential. I like Kansas City to win, but there’s at least some concern about a backdoor cover here. Watson is a gamer who both understands how to be aggressive when playing from behind and seems to step up his level of play in those situations. Four times already in his short 38-game career he has thrown multiple fourth-quarter touchdowns in a game the Texans ultimately lost by eight points or fewer.
I do expect the Texans might try to slow things down early in the game to limit the opportunities they give Mahomes. They almost built a big lead too early last January, and Mahomes had three quarters to come back, which he did in a big way. Still, I expect Mahomes and the Chiefs will put up points, and that a deficit will force Watson into comeback mode. Knowing he can thrive in that situation, and knowing we have two fantastic, play-making quarterbacks going at it, the pick here for me is the over.
Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs Latest Odds
Texans vs. Chiefs Spread: Kansas City -9
Texans vs. Chiefs Money Line: Kansas City -420, Houston +350 (Best odds)
Texans vs. Chiefs Total Points Line: 54.5 points
Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs Key Stats (Powered by StatsChecker)
- The Chiefs have won each of their last 11 games in September
- The road team has covered the spread in each of the Chiefs last nine Week 1 games
- The Chiefs have won the first half in each of their last seven games against AFC opponents
- Each of the Chiefs last five season openers have gone OVER the total points line
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