Houston Texans: Week 1 Prediction, Cecil Shorts X-Factor


Here’s a stat that may surprise you – since 1990, at least four teams that missed the playoffs from one season made the playoffs the following year. The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs are hoping the trend continues, as both teams were on the outside looking in last season, finishing with winning records of 9-7 but failing to make the playoffs.

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The Texans and Chiefs will likely be battling with each other for a wild card position this season. Both teams are very similar – they are built around a star running back and stingy defense while employing the dreaded “game manager” at quarterback. The Texans do have a slight advantage as the game will be played in Houston as opposed to Arrowhead, where the Chiefs are significantly tougher. While the season can’t be won or lost in Week 1, this game could be extremely important in the long run for tiebreaker purposes.

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The Texans will win if…

The defense dominates. Without Arian Foster, the Texans’ offense is severely limited – Alfred Blue isn’t scaring any one, and outside of DeAndre Hopkins, Houston lacks playmakers at the receiver position.

The Chiefs’ offense looks to be stronger this year thanks to the addition of Jeremy Maclin. In the era of Madden-like passing stats, Kansas City somehow went the entire season without a single wide receiver on the roster catching a touchdown pass. Maclin gives them a player who can stretch the field and make plays after the catch, something they didn’t have last season.

Still, if the Texans’ defense is as good as advertised, they should be able to limit the Chiefs’ offense. J.J Watt should have a field day with a patchwork Chiefs’ offensive line that features two players making their NFL debut. If they can hold Kansas City to less than 17 points, Houston should be in a position to win the game.

Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster (22) runs the ball as Houston Texans outside linebacker Brooks Reed (58) attempts the tackle during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Texans will lose if…

Brian Hoyer turns the ball over multiple times. It’s easy to say the Texans will lose if the defense doesn’t play well – that’s going to be true for most weeks – but against the Chiefs, the offense just needs to hold its own. If Hoyer can lead a couple of touchdown drives, the Texans should be in good shape.

If the turnover bug bites Hoyer, however, it will be extremely hard for Houston to get past the Chiefs. Hoyer threw nine interceptions in the last five games of 2014, which was part of the reason why the Browns decided to move on. Without Foster, Houston may rely more on the passing game, but Hoyer still needs to protect the football. Any drive that ends in a kick should be seen as a win for the Texans’ offense.

X-Factor: Cecil Shorts

I was really, really, really close to picking Jadeveon Clowney, but I think the Texans’ defense will be fine against the Chiefs regardless of whether Clowney makes an impact or not. I expect Kansas City’s defense to take away Hopkins whenever possible, which means someone else on the Houston offense needs to step up. Shorts could be that guy. If he can make a couple of big plays, it will take some pressure off of Hopkins and give Hoyer another reliable option.

Prediction: Kansas City 17, Houston 16

Tough loss for the Texans who play well, but in the end the addition of Maclin is the difference. The Texans’ defense has struggled with speedy receivers in the past (see T.Y. Hilton) and I think Maclin will burn Houston for a long score at some point in this game. The injury to Foster really hurts as the Texans have to settle for three red zone field goals.

Next: Five Bold Predictions for the Texans in 2015

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