The Kansas City Chiefs ended their lengthy championship drought last season, earning their first title since defeating Minnesota in Super Bowl IV. Looking to become the eighth team to repeat, they’ll have to do so without one of their playoff heroes, as Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the coronavirus pandemic. With a new weapon in the backfield, the Chiefs begin the quest when they host the Houston Texans at 8:20 p.m. ET in Thursday’s 2020 NFL Kickoff.

Williams, who recorded half of his six postseason touchdowns in Kansas City’s AFC Divisional-Round victory over Houston, announced his decision in late July, more than three months after the team selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the final pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. The 21-year-old elected to forego his senior year at LSU after rushing for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns during the Tigers’ national championship 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. 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 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

Reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes has been superb in his two meetings with the Texans thus far. The 24-year-old has completed 42-of-70 passes for 594 yards with eight touchdown passes and just one interception. Meanwhile, tight end Travis Kelce has five TD receptions in as many career games against Houston, including three in Kansas City’s win last postseason. 

The Chiefs will be without Damien Williams, who also found the end zone three times in the playoff victory, as the running back opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the coronavirus pandemic. That opens the door for Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was selected with the final pick of the first round in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The 21-year-old native of Baton Rouge elected to forego his senior year at LSU after rushing for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns while making 55 catches for 453 yards and a score during the Tigers’ national championship season in 2019.

Why the Texans can cover

Houston is missing its top running back and top receiver from last season, but it still has one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks in Deshaun Watson. The Clemson product, who celebrates his 25th birthday on Monday, threw for over 4,000 yards in his first season as the Texans’ starter in 2018 and would have eclipsed the mark again last year had he not sat out the regular-season finale, finishing with 3,852. Watson also can hurt opposing defenses with his legs, as he has run for 964 yards and 12 touchdowns over the last two seasons. 

The Texans traded All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals but brought in Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb to join Will Fuller V and give Watson a trio of options. In the backfield, Carlos Hyde signed with the Seahawks after registering the first 1,000-yard season (1,070) of his career in his lone campaign with Houston in 2019. Acquired in the deal involving Hopkins, David Johnson is hoping the change of scenery will help him regain the form that helped him rush for career highs of 1,239 yards and 16 TDs 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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