To say that Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is a little concerned about how his defense will play against Houston on Thursday night could be an understatement. With no preseason games and very little serious contact in practice, Spagnuolo is slightly anxious about the first game of the 2020 season. Last year, the team allowed an average of 19.3 points per game, seventh-best in the NFL.
The coach told reporters on Tuesday he has tried to prepare his players as well as possible, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made coaching a challenge.
“No question my number one concern,” Spagnuolo said when talking about his defense. “We’ve tried to simulate it as much as possible. We don’t have a lot of live periods — we do a little tackling that way. I think the coaches, the assistant coaches, have done a great job getting it done as best they could.”
Sloppy Tacking in KC?
Spagnuolo isn’t the only one concerned about the defense being rusty when Kansas City hosts Houston. Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu told the Kansas City Star the lack of preparation has been on his mind.
“It’s going to be tough, man,” Mathieu said. “Obviously not being able to have preseason games (and) we missed a good portion of the spring. I think tackling at this level is tough on its own. A lot of these guys can make multiple people miss.”
Gamblers don’t appear too concerned with either team’s defense, however. The over/under opened at 56.5 points, but was bet down to 54.5 at most sportsbooks. Still, Kansas City and Houston have the highest point total of any of the Week 1 games. The next highest is Dallas at the Los Angeles Rams. That game opened at 50.5 points, but has been bet up to 52 at Circa and Station sportsbooks.
Patrick Mahomes Loves to Score in Openers
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes has an affinity for putting points on the scoreboard in opening games, and facing Houston may not be any different. In 2018, the first year he started for the Chiefs, Mahomes hung 38 on the LA Chargers. Last year, he put up 40 on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Chiefs averaged 28.2 points per game last season, but had seven games where they had 30 or more points. When they faced Houston in the playoffs, Kansas City scored 51 points.
While the defense might be struggling in the season’s first game, Mahomes said head coach Andy Reid has the offense well prepared.
“He puts us in situations that are really game-like, which I feel like is a huge advantage, especially with no preseason games,” Mahomes said about Reid. “I mean he’s putting us in these situations every single day. We might not be tackling full, but we’re put in situations where we’re in third-and-long, third-and-short, trying to figure out ways to go throughout a game and situations that you’ll be a part of. So I think that’s why we start so fast and we’re ready right out of the gate because the training camp coach runs.”