We are one day away from the debut of the 2020 NFL season between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. With no preseason and new players in the fold, it will be anyone’s guess on how certain parts of the contest will go. We have our initial thoughts for each team, based on offseason moves and last year’s results. Let’s go ahead and list our three keys to victory for both the Chiefs and Texans. In addition, we have an under the radar player to watch for as potential x-factors.
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Kansas City Keys To Victory
1) Feed Clyde
The hype train for rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire has received plenty of steam. Rightfully so, as his style of running, vision and balance meshes well with the Chiefs’ offensive attack. I would make it a priority to give Edwards-Helaire the rock early and often in this contest. Similar to preseason games, allow the new face to shine. We could see some natural handoffs go the way of CEH. Furthermore, Andy Reid should not be afraid to move him around the formation and throw the ball his way down the field. Get the potential Offensive Rookie of the Year started with a bang against a marginal Texans defense.
2) Don’t Get Outmuscled
In the regular season meeting last year, Houston found success with hard nosed running up the middle and short passes generated from RPOs. It would not be surprising to see them go that route again, with running backs David Johnson and Duke Johnson, along with tight ends Darren Fells and Jordan Akins. To boot, Kansas City has to know that Deshaun Watson is able to take off at any moment. The Chiefs defense enjoyed a strong finish to last season, because of the confidence, swagger and physical nature that they showed. On Thursday, the Chiefs’ physicality especially can not be less than that of the Texans.
3) Start Fast
This may seem cliché for a team of KC’s stature. However, a quick start to the game and on the scoreboard can immediately put Houston to sleep. We have seen Watson elevate his team by himself before. But a bad showing by others overall, may be too much for the Texans to comeback from. In four of six regular season losses in 2019, the Texans opponent scored first before ultimately emerging victorious.
Houston Keys To Victory
1) Continue To Apply Pressure
The best part of the Houston Texans defense is easily their defensive line and pass rush, led by JJ Watt. Watt and Whitney Mercilus have continued to lead the team for many years now. Their unit is not what it used to be. Nonetheless, attempting to pressure the Chiefs is two-fold for the Texans. On one hand, they have a good opportunity against a leaky interior offensive line. Blitzing could also help mask the potential problems of a largely horrid secondary.
2) Lean On Watson
There’s a reason the Texans just gave Deshaun Watson a major contract extension. That is because he elevates the team above their capabilities. And when you are facing the Chiefs, the Texans will look to pressurize the opponent in more ways than one. If Watson continues to get chances with the ball in his hands, he can launch it deep, thread the needle, or takeoff running. If Houston can utilize their best strength, that can better maximize their own chances while hurting Kansas City’s.
3) Be Creative, But Smart
It is not wrong for Houston to attempt to be creative offensively. Rather, it does not mean to steer away from what they do best. When the Chiefs were on the ropes early against the Texans in the playoffs, Houston was dynamic. Moreover, they were intensive and calculated. To put it simply, Bill O’Brien cannot become what he was in the second quarter of the playoff game. A silly misstep can lead to an avalanche of mistakes against the Chiefs. It could even lead to carry over into the coming weeks, if they are not careful.
Continuing to talk about the Texans offense, I turn my head to the tight end position. In a dynamic like we had this offseason due to COVID, it may take time for defenses to get reacclimated. To me, there is more questions about how the Chiefs may cover tight ends compared to wide receivers early on.
Fells is a big bodied receiving asset, who has underrated speed in the open field. Against Kansas City last year in two games, he accumulated nine receptions, 91 yards and a touchdown. For an under the radar target, those are impressive numbers for Darren Fells.
If you have been following the comments by ourselves here on FPC Chiefs and by the team, they love this depth on the defensive line. There is a good opportunity against an improved, but still shaky Houston offensive line. While the Texans will have to focus on Frank Clark and Chris Jones, other players could get plenty of chances at applying pressure.
That leads me to Tanoh Kpassagnon. Kpassagnon came into his own last year, with the addition of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The Villanova product proved he could play multiple positions on the defensive line, both inside and outside. I’m banking on Kpassagnon to start hot, following a breakthrough 2019 season.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.