Houston Texans +9 @ Kansas City Chiefs: 54.5
The season opens with the Superbowl champions hosting one of the teams they beat on the way to the Lombardi last season as the Houston Texans visit Arrowhead. A rather different Arrowhead to the one they frequented in January this year with just 16,000 fans allowed to be in attendance thanks to fucking Covid.
That night in January offered some fantastic in-play betting opportunities as the Texans sped out to a 24-0 lead, only to somehow be trailing at the half. It was a remarkable play-off game as the Chiefs then racked up 4 TDs in 5 minutes or so.
A lot has changed for the Texans over the summer trading away their man WR for a bag of beans and using the cap space to bring in David Johnson, Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks on the offensive side of the ball, as well as signing up Deshaun Watson to a $40m per year contract keeping him there for at least 4 years.
It’s a great deal for Watson and the Texans, they have their star man at the team for the foreseeable future and he gets a shit-ton of money and the chance for another mega-deal at the tender age of 29 where he’ll cost even more. He is a top 5 QB in the league, mobile, a strong arm, accurate. He’s a great player and very fun to watch.
Strangely enough he wasn’t best pleased with losing Nuk, and the NFL world destroyed Head Coach/GM Bill O’Brien for the moves they made, and at first that’s fair, but they’ve added diversity to their offense now, more targets, speed all over the place. One thing you could have criticised Watson and the Texans for last year was that he focused in one Hopkins too much. Brandin Cooks is a speedster who has had 1,000 yards in the first year of every teams he’s been at. I worry about his concussions feeling that one more will keep him out for a long time. Randall Cobb had 828 yards in Dallas last year and adds to the slot, while if Will Fuller could stay healthy for a season he’d be up there with the league leaders in yardage. Cooks is currently questionable for the game which is a worry. I think it will be Deandre Carter filling in for him should he not be able to go, it’s between him and Keke Coutee but Coutee plays more in the slot.
The trade with the Cardinals brought David Johnson to the Texans on the other side of it. I still have faith in him. He’s not 2016 DJ of course and last year wasn’t great for him at 3.7 yards per carry, but he did very well in the slot for the Cardinals and B.O’B will be looking to give him the ball often after taking on a his big contract. Typically Watson hasn’t dropped the ball short to his RBs, but with David and Duke Johnson he’s got two of the better pass-catching backs in the game.
Tight end looks like it will be Darren Fells at least in the redzone, he led the team in redzone targets last year, converting 7 of his 11 into TDs, so always a good one to look at in the TD market. Jordan Akins actually had more receptions and yards than him last year and Kahale Waring should be fit after missing his rookie year.
Their defense didn’t rank too well last year, coming in 22nd according to footballoutsiders defensive DVOA. They were without JJ Watt for a lot of the season, he’s still a machine on the field. Whtiney Mercilus has always had the reputation as a pass rusher and does better with Watt on the field but could do with stepping up. They brought in Vernon Hargreaves from the Bucs half way through the year and Justin Reid did well at safety so I guess there’s hope they improve.
They have a horrible start to the season, Chiefs tonight, Ravens, Steelers and Vikings in the first 4 games for them. It does get easier, and they did recently make the playoffs after an 0-5 start, so it might not all be over within a month.
Kansas City Chiefs
It’s not often the Superbowl Champions bring back their whole coaching staff and most of their starting roster year on year, but the Chiefs have somehow managed it with only Damien Williams, and Doc Tardiff opting-out for the season from the team who won the big one last season.
They not only bring back their superstar QB, but signed him to a $500m 10-year deal over the summer, another which is very team friendly as well as giving Patrick Mahomes the biggest contract in NFL history. He definitely deserves it, he’s already being touted as possibly the best to play the position and he does things that no-one else does on the field. I believe it could be the start of a dynasty in KC and he’s already getting people to take pay-cuts to play for the Chiefs.
They made a point of loading up on speed in the last few drafts with Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman being drafted and signing Sammy Watkins a couple of years ago. Watkins the player who took a significant haircut on his pay this year to stay on this team, you can’t blame him. Tyreek is one of the most exciting players in the league, he can take it to the house from anywhere on the field. Mecole didn’t have a ton of receptions last season but averaged 20 yards per catch, 6 TDs from just 26 receptions. You’ve got to think he’ll be more involved this season. Demarcus Robinson played well in Hills absence but is a bit-part player at best. Tyreek missed 4 games last year, if he’d have played the full season he’d have easily topped 1,000 yards with probably 10 TDs.
Travis Kelce is the best all round Tight end in the league. He can block and catch and will surely have more than 5 TDs this year which was a low finish for him last season in the regular season anyway, he had 4 in the playoffs last year. He did have the 4th most yards of any pass catcher in the league last year and over 1,000 seems inevitable again. I thought Ricky Seal-Jones would be the 2nd, but the depth chart seems to have rookie Nick Keizer listed there. I have no idea who he is.
Mahomes was asked about their first round pick in the draft this year and he hand-selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire who most thought would compete and eventually take the RB1 spot from Damien Williams, but was gifted the job from day one. He had 1,400 yards on the ground for LSU last year as well as 55 receptions for 453 through the air last year as well. At 5’7″ I’m not entirely convinced how effective he’ll be on the ground in the NFL, but he does jump off the tape and he’s landed in the best spot he could have done under Andy Reid. It looks like Darrel Williams has won the backup role behind him and I think he’ll get a few carries, possibly 10 touches in this opener but that remains to be seen, obviously in week 1.
Their defense improved markedly through the season after the addition of Tyrann Mathieu, the honey badger who made a big difference in the secondary with Juan Thornhill playing very well in tandem with him and now returning from injury. Anthony Hitchens was very good, and they managed to pay Chris Jones to add some very good pass rush, backing up 15.5 sacks the season before with 9 sacks in 13 games last year.
The Chiefs should win the division and I’ve got them as rightful favourites for the Superbowl again this year, I’m just not sure how they’ll be stopped.
The Chiefs should win, and I think they’ll cover. Andy Reid is a master with extra time, winning off most bye weeks and his record in the first 3 weeks of the season is brilliant winning 13 of last 15 covering the last 5 years and covering the spread in 12 of them. He’s won and covered the last 15 games they’ve played in the opening 3 weeks of seasons, although admittedly never anything as large as 9+ points.
So I’ve got to take them to cover the spread as well, and I’ve got to think that with the offensive ability on both teams they should be able to put up points.
My worry is the lack of any pre-season and whether that will affect defense or offense more. I think settled teams will be in a far better position this season and it doesn’t get more settled than the Chiefs this year.
It’s tough to know what to make of Clyde on his debut, but they’re raving about him in camp so I don’t see why he won’t have a big game in this one. I’m going to leave his rushing yards, set between 49.5 and 54.5 but I like his receiving yards and having seen the price on him scoring a receiving TD I’ll have a nibble on that too (Thanks Jack Tuffy)
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire over 20.5 receiving yards – 1.91 (Ladbrokes/WillHill)
- Clyde to score a receiving TD – 8.5 (WilliamHill) –
- Duke Johnson o19.5 receiving yards – 1.91 (WilliamHill)
All 2 points stake.
I backed the Duke bet a few times last year, he hit the over in 10/16 regular season and both their playoff games last season.
I will of course have a full lot of previews for Sunday night, I can’t fucking wait!
You can join my Draftkings league, I’m running a showdown game for this one – Opening game Draftkings and I’ve filled a 20 player game for the weekend already!
If you’ve after any Draftkings advice have a look at NFL-DFS.com and see what we think for this weekend.
As always, thanks for reading, Adam (@TouchdownTips)