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The Chiefs battle the Texans in their first preseason game of the 2018 season Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium

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NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the first game day of the 2018 season!

Sort of.

The Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans in their first preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time. The game marks the first time that Patrick Mahomes takes the Arrowhead Stadium field as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback. Andy Reid has said Mahomes will get a quarter, and in that quarter, we’ll be looking for more touchdowns than turnovers.

An important subplot that developed late this week is how the Chiefs plan to replace starting safety Daniel Sorensen, who will miss regular-season time after surgery. Former 2016 fourth-rounder Eric Murray will be the first player to take a crack, but knowing my hardcore Chiefs fans, there will also be a microscope on rookie Armani Watts.

And speaking of players like Watts, this is the first time we’ll see Sammy Watkins, Xavier Williams, Anthony Hitchens and Kendall Fuller suit up as Chiefs in a game setting. If you’re looking to tap into the waterworks, Williams grew up a fan and follower of the Chiefs, so Thursday night’s game could prove to be emotional for the defensive lineman. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Watch for Breeland Speaks, the Chiefs’ top pick in 2018, will make his professional debut in the red and gold some time in the second quarter. I consider rookie sixth-rounder Tremon Smith the current favorite to win the Chiefs’ kick-returner job, so those opportunities will be something to watch.

Speaking of kick-return opportunities, there’s a brand new kickoff Thursday night that looks a lot more like a punt.

There are two important battles to watch on offense—one we knew about heading into the camp and one that sort of developed as it’s gone on. Veteran Matt McGloin (quarter 3) and rookie Chase Litton (quarter 4) are battling for the No. 3 quarterback position, and live game reps play a huge part of making that decision. As for the other battle, I think Demarcus Robinson may have a chance to unseat Chris Conley at WR3 with a big preseason. The third wide receivers will thus have my attention Thursday night.

On the other side, Deshaun Watson, will be in the house on Thursday, as he returns from the torn ACL he suffered last season. Watson will forever be connected with Mahomes and Kansas City because the Chiefs passed on him to select Mahomes two picks earlier in the 2017 NFL Draft. Old friend Zach Fulton returns to town as the Texans’ starting right guard and Eric Fisher’s son wants to play but it isn’t clear if he’ll go.

Nuts and bolts

Location: Arrowhead Stadium

Game time: Thursday, August 9, 2018, 7:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time

TV channel: KCTV5

Online Stream: NFL Gamepass

Replay: NFL Network and NFL Gamepass

Pregame show: Arrowhead Pride Tailgate, 6 p.m. on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City | Presented by Albright Buick GMC Cadillac

Radio: 101.1 The Fox (Mitch Holthus and Kendall Gammon) | Spanish Radio Broadcast: KCZZ 1480 AM (Tico Sports)

Matchup history: Chiefs lead 6-4 (regular season and postseason)

Odds: Chiefs -2.5

Prediction: Chiefs 24, Texans 17

Announcers: Carter Blackburn (play-by-play), Trent Green (analyst), BJ Kissel (sideline)

Enemy blog: Battle Red Blog

Twitter: Arrowhead Pride

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Chiefs 2018 preseason schedule

Week 1 | Thursday, 8/9 | 7:30 p.m. CT | vs. Houston Texans

Week 2 | Friday, 8/17 | 6:00 p.m. CT | at Atlanta Falcons

Week 3 | Saturday, 8/25 | 12:00 p.m. CT | at Chicago Bears

Week 4 | Thursday, 8/30 | 7:30 p.m. CT | vs. Green Bay Packers

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