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How Chiefs vs. Texans became the biggest must-watch game so far this season

The Chiefs are undefeated and the Texans are somehow riding even more momentum into their Sunday night matchup.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The flex scheduling window for Sunday Night Football began this week, but NBC couldn’t have asked for a better matchup than what was already on the schedule. When the Kansas City Chiefs travel to face the Houston Texans on Sunday night, it will be a meeting of the only undefeated team in the NFL and another that is just 2-2, but somehow riding even more momentum.

That’s not a dig at the Chiefs. Through four weeks, no team can argue it’s better than Kansas City. Wins over New England, Philadelphia and Washington showed the Chiefs are no fluke.

Alex Smith is completing 76 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns, no interceptions and leads the NFL with a passer rating of 124.2. The defense is No. 10 in points allowed and Kareem Hunt is too much fun to not sit down and tune in to watch the Chiefs.

A win in Week 5 would tie a franchise record for consecutive wins on the road at nine.

And still, the Texans are the ones more on cloud nine.

That’s what happens when a franchise whose best ever quarterback is Matt Schaub finally feels like it found a real solution at the position.

The Texans feel brand new with Deshaun Watson

It’s still too early to say that Watson is the answer to all of the Texans’ prayers.

Just last year, Carson Wentz started his rookie season with seven touchdowns, one interception and a 103.5 passer rating. He ended the year with 16 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a pedestrian 79.3 rating.

But that doesn’t mean the Texans shouldn’t be really excited about what they’ve seen so far. Just last week, Watson tied a rookie record for touchdowns in a game and led the Texans to a franchise-record 57 points in a blowout win over the Titans.

He took the reins under center after halftime of Week 1, and all of a sudden, Houston looks like a whole new team.

Two years ago, the Chiefs bounced the Texans from the playoffs with a resounding 30-0 defeat helped by four interceptions from Brian Hoyer. Last year, the team that has started nine quarterbacks since 2014 finished No. 29 in total offense with Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage struggling to do much of anything.

Scoring 57 (FIFTY-SEVEN!) points feels like a revelation.

But Watson has plenty left to prove. The Titans gave up more than 400 yards to the shaky Seahawks offense a week before getting wrecked by the Texans. And Watson’s other good game came against a Patriots defense that has been awful to begin the year.

Beating the Chiefs would be the most legitimate feather in his cap so far.

Kansas City has been making quarterbacks look bad

The Chiefs’ average of more than 30 points per game and only one turnover are the biggest reasons for their 4-0 start. But the Kansas City defense deserves a lot of the credit too, even if it’s No. 26 in yards allowed.

In the first four weeks, the defense was tasked with stopping Tom Brady, Carson Wentz, Philip Rivers and Kirk Cousins.

None of the four completed more than 60 percent of their passes and collectively barely cracked 50 percent:

Chiefs defense makes good QBs struggle

Opposing QBs Completion percentage Touchdowns Interceptions Passer rating
Opposing QBs Completion percentage Touchdowns Interceptions Passer rating
vs. Chiefs 51.4 4 4 72.8
vs. other opponents 69.0 26 4 108.6

While Watson did well against the Titans and Patriots, he had difficulty in his first NFL start against the Cincinnati Bengals. That could be attributed to his inexperience, but the Bengals’ defense is also top five in points, total yards and passing yards allowed. Tennessee and New England are both bottom five in all three categories.

If difficulties come against the Chiefs, he’ll join a list of players who haven’t found much success against the Kansas City defense so far.

The Texans’ defense is no joke either

Watson against the Chiefs’ defense isn’t the only test Sunday night. It’ll also be interesting to see how the creative and high-powered Kansas City offense does against a defensive line featuring J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

The Texans were No. 1 in total defense a year ago, even without Watt for most of the year. Last week, they held the Tennessee offense under 200 yards while forcing five turnovers.

In the three weeks prior to meeting Houston, the Titans turned the ball over just once and averaged 387 yards per game. It was an efficient offense that avoided mistakes, but couldn’t get going against the Texans.

Kansas City is a similarly mistake-free offense that will have to avoid falling in the same traps that the Titans did a week ago.

Only the Denver Broncos have allowed fewer first downs than the Texans, so the Chiefs may have difficulty grinding out long drives against Houston. After four games, Hunt is averaging an impossible 7.4 yards per carry and 125.5 yards per game, but running room against the Texans may be hard to come by.

For as exciting as Watson has been, the defense has been the team’s backbone through its journeyman quarterback years. That’s why finding a passer who is actually dangerous makes the Texans suddenly a must-watch contender.

But that’ll be put to the test in a big way against the Chiefs — and it gives us the most exciting matchup possible after a quarter of the regular season.

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