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NFL opening night thread: Chiefs vs. Texans, season predictions

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It is time.

NFL: JAN 12 AFC Divisional Playoff - Texans at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For many people in America, tonight is a special one. The beginning of a new NFL season is finally here.

The Houston Texans will be heading to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in front of 17,000 fans.

The last time these two teams played was in the 2019 AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs where the Texans jumped out to a 24-0 lead only to see it evaporate and get embarassed all in the course of four quarters. The Chiefs would beat the Texans 51-31 and wind up being Super Bowl champions.

Texans QB Deshaun Watson and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes both signed lucrative contract extensions this off-season and represent the cream of the crop of a new era of elite QBs as the likes of Rodgers, Brady, Brees, and Roethlisberger are getting longer in the tooth every season.

You can catch the game itself on NBC at 8:20 ET.

Season predictions

AFC thoughts:

- I expect the Baltimore Ravens to be even better than a season ago and for Lamar Jackson to show improvement as a passing quarterback. The Ravens could very well dethrone the Chiefs as AFC champions. Joe Burrow will have the Bengals competing this year but don’t look for immediate success, the Browns should be better but when do they ever prove anyone right, and the Steelers just don’t seem as formidable as they used to be. This is the Ravens division.

- The Patriots have owned the AFC East this entire century, but the Bills will be giving them a run for their money this season with a solid all around team. However, don’t underestimate Cam Newton if he’s fully healthy and fully engaged in New England. Even so, the Pats roster isn’t all that great on the offensive side of the ball and I don’t see the Patriots doing too much. If the Bills can’t win the division this season, I don’t know if they ever will.

- The Titans were a major sleeper team last season that impressed late into the playoffs with Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill leading the charge. Now Tennessee is the odds on favorite to win the division after the Texans traded away DeAndre Hopkins. Look for the Titans to take this division with Texans, Colts, and Jaguars being mediocre at best.

- While the Chiefs are the odds on favorites to win the AFC West, the Broncos are a sleeper team this season and I expect Drew Lock to have a notable year The Von Miller injury has me tempering my expectations about Denver, though. The Raiders will continue to disappoint under Jon Gruden with Derek Carr as QB and the Chargers are an 8-8 team if some luck bounces their way.

NFC Thoughts:

- The NFC East still seems to be the worst division in the NFL and I don’t see any of the teams going far in the playoffs. The Cowboys have the most complete roster, the Eagles are well coached and still have remnants of what made them really good a few years back, Washington is going to be awful, and the Giants will need Daniel Jones to take a major leap forward.

- The NFC North is owned by Aaron Rodgers until a team can depants him, so to speak. The Vikings will never go far with Kirk Cousins, who disappears in the playoffs and gets gun shy. The Lions could surprise everyone and win the division, as could the Bears if their QB play becomes consistent. Flip a coin this year to decide your NFC North champ.

- The 49ers had a damn fine season in 2019, but a lot of luck went their way in tightly contested games and Jimmy Garoppolo dodged a lot of bullets he’ll need to continue dodging this season. The 49ers are still good, but last season could have been lightning in a bottle and we don’t even see them in the playoffs this season. Who I would put money on making the playoffs is the Seahawks, as well as a huge year from Russell Wilson. The Cardinals could get a wild card berth if Kyler Murray takes a needed next step, and the Rams are facing a make or break season which will likely end in disappointment.

- The NFC South may be the most interesting in football this season with Tom Brady in Tampa, Teddy Bridgewater in Carolina, Drew Brees in New Orleans, and Matt Ryan in Atlanta. The south has some gunslingers. I think the division will come down to the Bucs and the Saints, and it’s hard to pick against the Saints in a weird off-season. Brady is still getting used to a new scheme and new teammates, but the Bucs don’t have many weaknesses on offense and should be able to score a lot of points. It would not surprise me if the Bucs not only won the division, but won the Super Bowl as well.

What are your predictions for the 2020 NFL season? Let’s hear ‘em!