It’s going to be a battle of first-place teams when the Chiefs head to Houston on Sunday night.
The Chiefs are the NFL’s last unbeaten team at 4-0 and they have a one-game lead in the AFC West. And, well, technically the Texans are in first place, too. However, they are 2-2 and in a three-way tie in the AFC South with the Jaguars and Titans.
During the season, I’ll provide a quick overview of the next Chiefs’ opponent early in each week, and here are a few things to know about the Houston Texans. Kickoff is Sunday at 7:30 p.m., and the game will be shown on Channel 41.
1. Deshaun Watson
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Some fans hoped the Chiefs would take Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in the first round of this year’s draft, but they chose Patrick Mahomes instead at No. 10. Watson was selected two picks later by the Texans.
Watson has been a revelation, completing 74 of 114 passes for 811 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He seems to be improving each week and last Sunday, Watson and the Texans hung a franchise-record 57 on the Titans.
The Associated Press noted that Watson was the first rookie to throw four touchdown passes and run for another one since Fran Tarkenton in 1961, and Watson also tied an NFL record for most touchdowns by a rookie quarterback.
Houston has scored 90 points in its last two games.
2. The receivers
Texans receiver Will Fuller suffered a broken collarbone at practice in early August, but he returned Sunday and caught four passes for 35 yards. Modest numbers, but he could be a player to watch against the Chiefs, because Fuller can flat-out fly.
The Texans’ top receiver is DeAndre Hopkins, who is leading the league with 31 catches. On Sunday, he caught 10 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Here is that touchdown catch:
The Texans are tied for fourth in the NFL in takeaways with seven. However, five came against the Titans, which was Houston’s most since it also had five on Nov. 23, 2008 against Cleveland. The Texans also tied a team record Sunday with four interceptions.
One of those interceptions was a pick-six by rookie Dylan Cole, who played at Missouri State.
4. Rushing attack
The Texans rank fifth in the league at 139.8 yards per game, but they’ve broken just one long run this season. Watson’s 49-yard touchdown run in Week 2 is the only rushing attempt that has gone 20 or more yards in Houston’s first four games.
Lamar Miller has 257 yards rushing, but is averaging just 3.8 yards per attempt.
5. Red zone improvement
The Houston Chronicle noted that Texans scored six touchdowns in nine red-zone opportunities against the Titans, which was a huge improvement from how Houston started the season. The Chronicle story says Houston is 19th in the NFL in red-zone scoring offense and has scored 53.3 percent of the time. They ranked 27th before the game.
The Chiefs are known for their stubborn red-zone defense, so we will see if the Texans’ success inside the 20 last Sunday was a one-off or if they have turned a corner.