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NFL Week 1 Blowout: Chiefs 34, Texans 20 — 4 Winners, 4 Losers

After another disappointing opener, Bill O'Brien has a lot of explaining to do.
After another disappointing opener, Bill O'Brien has a lot of explaining to do.
Photo by Eric Sauseda

Since taking their now famous 24-0 lead in their playoff loss to the Chiefs (or infamous, if you're a fan of the Houston Texans, not the easiest sports occupation right about now, by the way), the Texans have been outscored by Kansas City by an 85-27 margin, aided some serious garbage points in the fourth quarter. That's because what started out as a promising performance in the NFL season opener on Thursday night — hey, a 7-0 lead! — turned into another annihilation, with the Chiefs rolling up the Texans by a score of 34-20.

There is really nothing positive to take from this if you're a Texans fan, except that maybe David Johnson looks like he has a pulse. Even worse, on top of being turned into a grease spot in Kansas City, the Texans' next game is a week from Sunday against the second bets team in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens. Good times! Well, at least the Rockets are.... wait... well, at least the Astros are.... oh, never mind.

Bad night to be a Houston sports fan. Let's do the autopsy, shall we?

WINNERS

4. Arrowhead faithful
Kansas City is one of just a few stadiums that is allowing fans into their stadium for games, with the Chiefs playing in front of 22 percent capacity, about 16,000 fans. It wasn't thought to be a major advantage, with noise thought to be a very minor factor with 80 percent empty seats in an open air stadium. I wasn't in the stadium on Thursday night, but on TV it sounded like those 16,000 were making the noise of about 50,000. Say what you will about Chiefs fans, but they are loud and they are passionate.

3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
As if the Chiefs needed another offensive weapon, what with the crew of freaks they already have (Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, with Patrick Mahomes pulling the trigger), but the rookie running back out of LSU adds another dimension to this offense that they have not had since Mahomes took the reins in 2018. He looked speedy, he looked sneaky powerful, and when the Texans were just trying to make the Chiefs work for everything in the first half of the game, the Chiefs used him to grind the Texans defensive front into dust.He finished with 138 yards on 25 carries. Fantasy owners must be thrilled with him!

2. David Johnson
As I mentioned above, the only real positive I can take from this game, if I'm a Texans fan is that it appears the Texans got a pretty stellar version of Johnson, who has been anywhere from average to outright bad since his breakout year all the way back in 2016. Johnson scored the Texans' first touchdown on a run in which Johnson looked fast and powerful, running away from Chiefs defenders to pay dirt. The fear was the Texans traded for a lemon when they took Johnson back in the Hopkins trade, but that does not appear to be the case.

1. Patrick Mahomes
Even after Watson's massive contract extension, Mahomes rightfully remains several million per year ahead of him and everybody else in football. There aren't really any more accolades to say about the former MVP and reigning Super Bowl MVP. Mahomes makes you defend the entire field, and even when he is fading backwards, he can still throw the ball with zip and accuracy. Watson is a good player. Mahomes is a walking cheat code.

LOSERS

4. The Kelly-Watson Era Debut
Well, all the excitement for a play caller NOT named "Bill O'Brien" turned out to be a big dud. The stats, in the end, don't look terrible, as Watson threw for 253 yards, but when this game was being played at peak intensity from both sides, the Texans' offense played with very little urgency and very little energy. Early in the second half, down 24-7, Kelly was huddling and calling running plays between the tackles. There was nothing about this offense that looked new. That's depressing.

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3. NBC
Football was back last night! America celebrated! We made it through the coronavirus as a threat to the American pastime (at least we hope so)! And for a while it was a close competitive affair. Then, Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a field goal right before halftime, a kick that would have cut the Chiefs' lead to 14-10. Instead, the Chiefs march down the field with just seconds remaining in the half, kick a field goal, and go into the locker room up 17-7. It was a six point swing, and that's bad enough, but with the Chiefs getting the ball to start the second half, the game was essentially over, and that was bad news for NBC and its ratings, I would imagine.

2. Whitney Mercilus
Of all the contract extensions that O'Brien handed out to existing Texans over the last year and change, the four- year, $54 million deal for Mercilus has been the biggest head scratcher. Mercilus is a nice enough player, and a great dude, but he has always been someone very reliant on the greatness of others around him in order for him to get his numbers. To wit, when J.J. Watt was on the field for eight games last season, Mercilus had 5.5 of his 7.5 sacks. On Thursday night, he was practically invisible, single blocked all night, and notching three innocuous solo tackles.

1. Bill O'Brien
Bill O'Brien made a bunch of moves this offseason to set this team up to compete with teams like the Chiefs in 2020, and needless to say, some of the moves were a tad counterintuitive. Thursday night was a night where they missed DeAndre Hopkins. Period, point plank. There were no real plays being made by any of the receivers on 50/50 balls, and there were at least four drops that I counted, including a big one by Fuller on the first series of the game. Save Johnson's decent night, there was nothing that happened on Thursday night that would indicate O'Brien's approach to roster building is working thus far.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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