The NFL’s lone unbeaten team at the quarter pole, the Kansas City Chiefs put their perfect record on the line when they visit the Houston Texans and rookie sensation Deshaun Watson on Sunday night. It will mark a short turnaround for Kansas City, which needed a last-second field goal to edge the Washington Redskins on Monday night.
The Texans have been a different team since handing the keys to the offense to Watson, who accounted for five touchdowns in last week’s 57-14 demolition of visiting Tennessee, but star defensive lineman J.J. Watt cautioned against getting carried away by the performance. “I mean, we’re 2-2. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here,” Watt said. “It’s not like we’re the ones that are 4-0, so we’ve got to be a little bit tempered with that. But we’re very excited.” Quarterback Alex Smith has played superbly for the Chiefs, who have scored at least 21 second-half points in three of their four victories, but is wary of the challenge presented by Houston. “They have one of the best D-lines in football. A couple of the most disruptive guys in football up there,” Smith said. Throw that together on the road with the noise, they are tough. ... We know what we are getting into.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Chiefs -1. O/U: 46
ABOUT THE CHIEFS (4-0): Smith has played with the label of “game manager” for years, but he has eight touchdowns versus zero interceptions and leads the league in both passer rating (124.2) and completing percentage (76.0). Rookie running back Kareem Hunt has rushed for more than 100 yards three times while amassing 659 yards from scrimmage — the second-highest total by a rookie through four games in league history. Tight end Travis Kelce, tied with Tyreek Hill for the team lead with 21 catches, had his second 100-yard game and scored his second TD against Washington. Kansas City’s defense is surrendering a lot of yards but has limited the damage to 19.3 points per game.
ABOUT THE TEXANS (2-2): Watson, who guided Clemson to the national championship in January, threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another score to earn AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. DeAndre Hopkins is Watson’s favorite target with 31 receptions, but fellow wideout Will Fuller returned from injury to make a splashy debut against the Titans with a pair of touchdowns among his four catches. Running back Lamar Miller scored his first two touchdowns of the season last week, piling up 131 yards from scrimmage, while rookie D’Onta Foreman provides a solid complement. Texas ranks fifth overall in yards surrendered (291.5) but yields 22.0 points per contest.
1. Hunt can join Adrian Peterson as the only rookies in NFL history with at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his team’s first five games.
2. Watson is the only rookie QB in NFL history with at least seven passing TDs and two rushing scores in his team’s first four games of a season.
3. Houston’s 19-12 win last season ended a three-game losing streak in the series, including a playoff rout in January 2016.
PREDICTION: Texans 23, Chiefs 22