Let's examine what the Deshaun Watson factor means for the Texans in 2020
It's finally here! Football season is upon us! We've all been waiting around like kids impatiently waiting on Christmas. The NFL will kick off it's 2020 season on Thursday when the Texans visit the Super Bowl champion Chiefs in Kansas City. The Thursday Night Kickoff Special is one of highlights of the NFL season. This will also serve as a test run for fans in stadiums since the Chiefs say they'll have around 20,000 or so fans in Arrowhead. There's a lot riding on not only this game, but the upcoming season. Here's my preview and some thoughts:
The Texans have a significant advantage at QB based on their schedule
With franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson now extended, the Texans can now concentrate on the business at hand: the upcoming 2020 season. Facing the last two league MVPs in the first two games of the season is tough, but the rest of their schedule looks much more manageable. The only other upper echelon quarterback they face after week two is Aaron Rodgers of the Packers in week seven. Ryan Tannehill and Philip Rivers are in their division, but those guys are more Pippen than Jordan. Kirk Cousins and Ben Roethlisberger are the other "close, but no cigar" quarterbacks that the Texans face this season. Watson is better than every quarterback they face except a couple. I can see a 13-3, no less than a 10-6 record from them this season if all goes well. Watson will always make sure the offense will click, but the defense is a bigger question mark. If JJ Watt can stay healthy, McKinney and Cunningham live up to their extensions, and the secondary lives up to their potential, we could be looking at a contender.
The rest of the league will be interesting to watch as well. Can Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs repeat? Will Lamar Jackson and the Ravens take the next step? Which future HOF quarterback will rule the roost in the NFC South? These are all questions we will see play out. However, one of the biggest questions I have is whether or not the NFL will be able to navigate a full season without the hiccups MLB has had as far as the pandemic is concerned? MLB has had several interruptions due to positive coronavirus tests. The NFL is scheduled to play their season as planned, but they canceled the preseason. Also, with the lack of fans (or fans being limited in some stadiums) how will players react? Which rookies, or young players, will step up and make names for themselves? I believe the 49ers will fall victim to the Super Bowl loser trend we've seen over the last few years. Joe Burrow will look better than expected in Cincinnati, if AJ Green stays healthy. Defensive Player of the Year will be a pass rusher. Offensive Player of the Year will be a running back. League MVP won't be a quarterback. This season will be atypical just like everything else. I won't be surprised if a team outside the usual suspects wins the Super Bowl.
There's so much going on right now, it's hard to predict what things will look like. We didn't have a preseason and training camp coverage was limited. There was no fanfare around cut day when teams got down to the 53-man roster. The Texans are in a space in which they could contend for a spot in the Super Bowl if they can get past the boogeymen at the top of the AFC. The team I see surprising people this year is the Browns because I feel they will live up to last year's hype this season. I think we'll see offenses explode given that they tend to get off to better starts than defenses. Could Watson win MVP? Yes, but only if his receivers stay healthy. He has his extension done so that's out of the way. There's nothing holding him back now. Unless you count his head coach. Football is back and I'm ready for it!