KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Can you hear the NBC football theme song? How about envisioning Carrie Underwood’s popular opening video? It’s football time in Houston, Kansas City and all across the globe.
The NFL is back and we are counting down to kickoff at Arrowhead Stadium between the Texans and defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs. The players are fired up and you know fans are ready to kick off the 2020 season.
The Texans come back to the scene of their worst playoff loss in team history as they squandered a 24-0 lead only to watch the Chiefs outscore them 51-7 the rest of the day back on that frigid afternoon in January.
“Yes, I thought about it alot,” said Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson recently. “It is motivating, but I don’t dwell on it. You go back and see how it happened and make changes. Now we are back and want to win.”
So that begs the question: How can the Texans get it done Thursday night just like they did last October when they took down the Chiefs 31-24?
Here are some keys to a Texans win.
1. Watson vs. the Kansas City defense
Deshaun Watson gets another crack at the Chiefs' defense and he is excited about that. Watson has hurt by KC passing the football and testing the Chiefs' average secondary. That will not change Thursday night, with KC starting a rookie at one of the corner slots. Watson needs time to throw, so the pass pro will be a key. Watson needs to play clean and get rid of the ball quickly. He will need to keep an eye on where Tyrann Mathieu is on the field at all times.
2. Texans WR corps
This will be a key area to watch closely. Watson no longer has the great Deandre Hopkins to throw to, but he has a group of four that are speedy and productive. If healthy, this group of Randall Cobb, Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills and Will Fuller IV can produce big numbers. Again health is key, not only Thursday night, but all season. We will see the status of Cooks who was on the injury report with a sore quad. I expect him to play and be a factor. Also, remember the tight ends who are big in this offense especially inside the red zone.
3. Contain Patrick Mahomes
The Super Bowl MVP is the best in the NFL so slowing him down is no easy chore. The Texans pass rush has to be huge and Defensive Coordinator Anthony Weaver will no doubt bring the heat all night. Applying pressure on Mahomes and making him force throws is the only route to go. Make him uncomfortable in the pocket and get him moving. Pressure, like they applied in October and early in the January playoff loss, could produce results for the Texans.
4. Win the obvious battles
Basic football 101 here folks. On the road, you need to take care of the details. Create turnovers, play great special teams and eat up as much clock as you can to keep the Chiefs offense on the sidelines. I could add a few more like clock management for Bill O’Brien, but we can stop there.
5. Few fans in the stands
Arrowhead is a special place on normal game days but things will change starting with this game. Only 22% capacity will be in the stands which translates to about 17,000 fans. The Texans won’t have an issue with crowd noise but to ramp up the atmosphere, expect plenty of crowd noise pumped in all night.
Arrowhead Stadium is a difficult place to play in the NFL and it will be Thursday night despite the environment change. Texans are six-point underdogs coming in and that is exactly where they want to be.
It’s go time, Houston!
Don’t forget: You can watch the game on KPRC 2. Coverage starts at 6 p.m.