Under normal circumstances, Arrowhead Stadium would be filled to capacity when the Kansas City Chiefs begin the defense of their Super Bowl title on Thursday night in the 2020 NFL Kickoff. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, only 22 percent of the seats will be occupied by fans when the Chiefs host the Houston Texans at 8:20 p.m. ET. Kansas City will be one of just two teams to have fans in attendance during Week 1, as the Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to have 25 percent of TIAA Bank Field filled for their game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. 

The Chiefs defeated Houston last postseason en route to their first championship in 50 years, spotting the visiting Texans the first 24 points before steamrolling their way to a 51-31 win in the AFC Divisional Round. Houston was victorious in its previous visit to Arrowhead, as it posted a 31-24 win in Week 6 last season. Kansas City is a nine-point favorite in the latest Chiefs vs. Texans odds from William Hill, while the over-under for total points scored is 54.5. Before locking in any Texans vs. Chiefs picks or NFL predictions, make sure you see what SportsLine’s all-time No. 1 NFL expert Mike Tierney has to say. 

A national sportswriter whose work appears in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, Tierney has covered the NFL for decades and reported from seven Super Bowls. He prefers to evaluate each game from the underdog’s point of view and has used that philosophy to dominate the NFL, going 66-44 against the spread in 2019 and 63-46 in 2018. 

All-time at SportsLine (2016-19), Tierney is 282-222 on all NFL picks, returning $3,704 to $100 players. He’s also had a sharp eye for the tendencies of the Chiefs, posting a 12-4 record on NFL against the spread picks for or against Kansas City. Anyone who has followed him is way up. 

Now, Tierney has locked in on Chiefs vs. Texans from every angle and released a confident against-the-spread pick. You can visit SportsLine now to see it. Here are several NFL lines and trends for Texans vs. Chiefs:

Texans vs. Chiefs spread: Kansas City -9
Texans vs. Chiefs over-under: 54.5 points
Texans vs. Chiefs money line: Kansas City -450, Houston +350
KC: Chiefs are 10-1 against the spread in their last 11 games in September
HOU: Texans are 2-8 against the spread in their last 10 contests played on Thursdays

Why the Chiefs can cover

Kansas City has one thing no other team in the NFL does: Patrick Mahomes. If his first two years as a starting quarterback in the league are any indication, the 24-year-old could go down as the best ever at his position. Mahomes appeared in just one game as a rookie in 2017, but the Chiefs were convinced he was their future and traded Alex Smith the following offseason. 

They were correct in their assessment, as the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft threw for nearly 5,100 yards and 50 touchdowns en route to league MVP honors in 2018 and guided Kansas City to its first championship since 1969 a year later, winning the Super Bowl MVP award in the process.

Mahomes still has tight end Travis Kelce and speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill at his disposal, but was provided with a new weapon when the Chiefs drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire in April. The 21-year-old running back rushed for 1,414 yards and 16 TDs as a junior on LSU’s national championship-winning team last season.

Why the Texans can cover

Houston believes it has an elite quarterback of its own in Deshaun Watson, who threw for over 4,000 yards in his first full season as the team’s starter in 2018. The 24-year-old from Clemson would have surpassed that mark last year but sat out the season finale and finished with 3,852 yards. Watson also provides a major threat with his legs, as he has gained nearly 1,000 yards on the ground (964) over the last two seasons. 

A two-time Pro Bowler, Watson won’t be throwing to DeAndre Hopkins, as the All-Pro receiver was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in March. But with Will Fuller V already in place, the Texans acquired Brandin Cooks from the Los Angeles Rams and signed Randall Cobb as a free agent to help fill the void and give Watson a trio of options. Houston is hoping David Johnson can regain his 2016 form, as the 28-year-old running back, who was obtained in the Hopkins deal, has enjoyed only one healthy season since rushing for 1,239 yards and 16 TDs for the Cardinals in 2016.

How to make Texans vs. Chiefs picks

Tierney has analyzed this matchup and while we can tell you he’s leaning Under, he has discovered a critical X-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the spread. He’s only sharing it here. 

Who wins Chiefs vs. Texans? And what critical X-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Texans vs. Chiefs spread you should jump on Thursday, all from the NFL expert who’s brought in over $3,700 to $100 players and is 12-4 on Chiefs picks, and find out.

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