Chiefs 34, Texans 20

5 observations from the Chiefs win over the Texans

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Plus ca change
Plus c'est la meme chose
The more that things change
The more they stay the same

- Rush, Circumstances

The Texans opened their season in the same place it ended last year on Thursday night, facing the Kansas City Chiefs. The outcome was the same. The defense could not stop the Chiefs, the offense could not sustain enough production to be competitive, and the end result was another loss against a team that is better than the Texans.

Yes, there is a lot of season to play, and the Texans could very well end up improving. That often happens. They also faced the best team in football. They did not need to win to show this could be a good season. But it would have nice if they had competed. Five observations from the 34-20 loss:

1) The defense is going to be a problem again. They were terrible last season, and unless there is some magical cure we haven't seen, this is going to be a serious issue in 2020. Yes, the Chiefs do this to everybody. In the first three quarters, the Texans had TWO stops. That is not going to get it done. The run defense was porous, they got almost no pressure on Patrick Mahomes, and there were blown coverages throughout. A lot of that can be fixed, and won't be issues against lesser teams. But if the Texans really want to contend, it won't work against the better teams.

2) Money not well spent. Zach Cunningham, fresh off his big contract, was a disaster. Bernardrick McKinney was almost invisible. Whitney Mercilus? Completely invisible. J.J. Watt was barely a factor as well. That group is paid to produce. They had some tackles, but no impact plays and Cunningham blew coverages, had penalties and looked like a rookie. These are the players you are paying to have a positive impact. They did not.

3) Some glimpses on offense. The offense did not spend a lot of time on the field. They had to be perfect against the Chiefs, and they were far from it. The positives? David Johnson looked OK, with 77 rushing yards and 109 total yards. The receivers were OK. Deshaun Watson was OK. His interception was classic Watson just throwing under pressure and hoping for good luck. He has to be better than that. But otherwise he was OK. But OK won't beat the Chiefs. This will be good enough against the Jags. Not the AFC elite.

4) A problem on the OL. This unit was supposed to be a strength. But Zack Fulton and Titus Howard were picked on all night. If this group is bad, the team has no chance. They have to be better. Four sacks, and all were on the OL.

5) And...O'Brien. The play calls were not bad, but the execution wasn't there. In the RonaVerse, that was to be expected. The only real beef was right before the half when it was fourth and 10, and O'Brien chose a long field goal try, which was missed. No one would have faulted going for it. For once, though, this loss was not on O'Brien. His team just did not play well enough.

The Texans simply did not have enough to stop KC, and the offense wasn't sharp enough to keep up. The score looked bad, but there were some positives. David Johnson looked pretty good at times, but the team never had a chance to use him properly once they got behind. The Texans aren't as bad as they looked Thursday night. But you would have liked to have seem them compete. They didn't.

The rookie coordinators did not distinguish themselves. Maybe that part is on O'Brien for hiring them. The Texans will be OK against the rest of the AFC, But the gap between them and the champs is just as big as it was when they last met. There is time to close that gap. But we saw little in the opener to indicate that will happen.

The more things change...


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The Astros are a force at home. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

PROBABLE STARTERS

Fri, Sept. 18 - ARI: Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.15) vs. HOU: Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.77)

Sat, Sept. 19 - ARI: Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70) vs. HOU: Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22)

Sun, Sept. 20 - ARI: Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.53) vs. HOU: Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.70)

STORYLINES

Staying Hot at Home? The Astros are now 18-7 at home in 2020 after taking two of three from the Texas Rangers. Conversely, the Diamondbacks are 8-19 on the road. It's a perfect blend for the Astros to continue their winning ways at home and position themselves in a more ideal spot for the playoffs.

Staff Settling in: Greinke and Urquidy taking the bump in a three game series brings a sense of normalcy to the Astros rotation. The days of Brandon Bielak and Luis Garcia getting starts are in the past. McCullers looked fantastic in his outing against the Rangers, and Justin Verlander is close to returning. That is a staff capable of winning a World Series.

Sinking Ship: The Astros win over the Rangers Thursday night kept the Mariners three games back of the Astros with just 10 games left to play. The Astros also own the tiebreaker over Seattle, meaning Seattle really needs to make up four games to jump the Astros for a playoff spot. Of course, the Astros' series in Seattle starting Monday will play a big role in that.

PREDICTION

The Diamondbacks are reeling, and the Astros are a force at home. Zac Gallen presents some problems for a slumping offense, but the Astros break out against Weaver and Bumgarner to take two of three.

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