The Texans haven’t won in Week 1 since 2016. However, they have the capability of being competitive and giving the Chiefs fits, if not upsetting them. Here are four reasons why the Texans will win.
1. The offensive line
(AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Rookie right tackle Tytus Howard was carted off the field during the Texans’ 31-24 win over the Chiefs in Week 6 last year. The line had formed enough cohesion to allow the Texans to dominate the time of possession 39:48 to Kansas City’s 20:12. Carlos Hyde rushed 26 times for 116 yards and a touchdown. Houston didn’t have that same line in the divisional playoffs with Roderick Johnson and Chris Clark at right tackle. As a result, Houston could mount points, but they couldn’t sustain drives or get the Chiefs out of a rhythm.
The Texans have that Week 6 line back and healthy. They also have a better running back in David Johnson. Houston should be able to dictate the pace of the game and not be at the Chiefs’ mercy.
2. Creative pass rush
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
One of the reasons the Texans succeeded against Kansas City in the first game was because of the pass rush. Houston logged two quarterback hits, and then-rookie defensive end Charles Omenihu sacked Patrick Mahomes and forced a fumble.
Outside linebacker Jacob Martin has earned plenty of laudatory remarks from the coaching staff throughout training camp. With new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver intent on being creative with the pass rush, it means Martin will have opportunities to get after Mahomes and complement the existing rush defensive end J.J. Watt already brings.
3. Bill O’Brien isn’t calling plays
(Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle via AP, Pool)
The 51-year-old has consistently had too much on his plate since 2017 when he took back over play-calling and doubled up as offensive coordinator. 2019 was even worse because, even though Tim Kelly was in his first year as offensive coordinator, O’Brien held onto the play-calling as he dabbled in the happenings of the front office.
Coach, general manager, play-caller? Time to delegate.
O’Brien’s work as a walk-around coach is evident. How else could you get a quarterback-less team to the postseason in two consecutive years from 2015-16? O’Brien can now provide broad spectrum analysis in real time of what’s happening in the game instead of being bound to the offense.
4. The ball is in Deshaun Watson’s hands
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The new philosophy of the Texans’ offense is to put the ball in the hands of their best player; let the offense flow through him.
Watson has a bevy of offensive weapons from his shifty, speedy receivers to big-bodied tight ends to pass-catching running backs. The two-time Pro Bowler also has the offensive line to keep him upright long-enough to go through his progressions and find the open target.
The Texans scored 31 points on the Chiefs in both games last season. If the Texans can maintain that scoring mark on Opening Night, it should be an ingredient that leads to a win.