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Chiefs-Texans preview: How effective will JJ Watt be?

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Thanks to Brett over at SB Nation’s Texans blog, Battle Red Blog, for answering my Chiefs-Texans questions. Check out my answers to their questions here.

1. How effective will JJ Watt be?

BRB: J.J. seemed to be fairly out of shape last week against the Bears. It was his first real action since his body gave out in the playoffs last year, and it showed. I'm sure that he will get better every single week as he works himself back into "football shape" (it is J.J. Watt, after all), but it's anyone's guess as to how many games that will take. The Chiefs' primary concern this week should really be Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney. Mercilus has developed into a borderline elite pass rusher himself, racking up 17 sacks in his last 13 games, while Clowney is still one of the three best edge run defenders in the entire league (the others being Khalil Mack and Pernell McPhee). Mercilus had Eric Fisher's number in the playoffs last year where he notched three sacks, so I would expect him to try to take advantage of that matchup again this week.

2. Early impressions of Brock Osweiler? Is he the real deal?

BRB: He sure looks like it. Were it not for some unfortunate drops by Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins last week, his stat line would have read well over 300 yards with three touchdowns and a pick that was ripped out of Hopkins' hands by Tracy Porter. There were a couple balls that could have been placed better (overthrows to Fuller on go routes come to mind), but for every miss there was an absolutely perfect strike down the sideline that should have been caught for six. Osweiler was poised in the pocket, made great decisions, and for once in Texans history actually had a deep ball that the receivers did not have to slow down for. If he plays like that every week, this team will go far.

3. Where can the Chiefs have success against the Texans defense?

BRB: Tight ends and receiving backs will likely continue to be their biggest weakness, which of course the Chiefs have plenty of. Neither of the Texans starting linebackers are quick enough to handle scat backs in space one on one for very long, and none of their safeties are big enough to handle 6'5 tight ends on jump balls in the red zone. It's not like the Texans are necessarily bad against those two prototypes, but on a defense with very few weaknesses that is essentially the only real crack in the armor. Expect a lot of zone looks this weekend so that nobody has to take on an individual matchup that they have no shot at winning.

4. Any chance DeAndre Hopkins sucks all of a sudden? How is he with a No. 2 WR?

BRB: Hopkins is still one of the very best in the game, and now that he has a running mate he can be even better. The Bears learned really quickly that Will Fuller is not someone that you want to leave on an island, so I would imagine that the Chiefs will have to bite the bullet and give Hopkins a one on one matchup for a good portion of the day just to save themselves from the damage that Fuller can do on the deep ball. That's not all the Texans have in the way of receivers though, as the ultra-elusive Braxton Miller came in and surprised everyone by taking the starting slot receiver job almost immediately. He looked fantastic in the preseason and was open quite often against Chicago despite his low target count. When you throw in Lamar Miller as a legitimate receiving threat out of the backfield, the Texans easily have more weapons this year than at any other point in franchise history. I suppose that their thinking is that you can't double everyone, right?

5. What's your score prediction?

BRB: The Chiefs had an impressive comeback last week against San Diego, but I do think that their game would have been much different had Keenan Allen not unfortunately gone down due to injury. The Chargers could not consistently sustain drives with their stud wide receiver out of the game, and as a result KC was given just enough possessions and time on the clock to get the win. Considering that Houston has both a better defense and more legitimate receiving threats than San Diego, I'm feeling optimistic about this game. Justin Houston being on the bench with an injury sure helps, as well.

Texans 30, Chiefs 16.