The Kansas City Chiefs didn't have much rust to shake off in the opening game of the season, a 34-20 victory over the Houston Texans. The worst moment of the game for KC probably came before it actually started when fans booed a moment of unity between the two teams. In terms of the actual football that was played, Andy Reid's relentless and ruthless offense chugged along with no trip-ups as the Texans went down big in the second half and never recovered.
First-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the star of the evening. The rookie surpassed even the most optimistic of expectations set for him in his NFL debut as he ran for 138 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. While the Chiefs' other weapons are so dangerous that many running backs could step in to Edwards-Helaire's role and attain moderate success, Edwards-Helaire showed off the shiftiness and ability to get low that made him a high draft pick. He had a big impact on the game without even catching a pass and played only two-thirds of the snaps. It made us all forget for a second that this team also has Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce ripping apart secondaries.
Patrick Mahomes, the central cog in this machine, had a middling day by his standards. He threw for three touchdowns but tossed for only 211 yards on 24-of-32 passing. "Middling" is not meant to be an insult here, just an accurate reflection of how that statline stacks up with his standard stuff. He threw for less than 211 yards in only four games last year, one of which was the game in which he hurt his knee and the other was the last game of the 2019 season. It was only the second game of his career where he completed 24 passes and threw for less than 250 yards. The Texans' defense did a decent job of keeping big plays off the table and limiting yards after the catch, but couldn't handle that and the run game.
Despite all that, the Chiefs were up 24-7 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter and looked as unstoppable as expected. That is a rather terrifying thought. The Texans do not boast an elite defense and Bill O'Brien is not exactly the best head coach Kansas City will go up against this year, but they're still the reigning AFC South champs with an elite quarterback in Deshaun Watson. The success Edwards-Helaire had on the ground meant that Mahomes didn't have to do everything, and he seemed content to sit back and complete eight-yard passes all night. It's a luxury he's never had; as James Palmer of NFL Network pointed out, Edwards-Helaire's 25 carries and 138 yards rushing were the most by a KC running back in Mahomes' career as a starter.
This is a far cry from last year's playoffs, where Mahomes was the team's leading rusher in both the Divisional and Championship Game without topping 55 yards on the ground. And there isn't a defense in the NFL that's going to sell out to stop the Chiefs' run game. Kansas City could be in the process of transforming from a Death Star to a Starkiller Base, somehow becoming more dangerous than before. There's still a lot of football left to be played, but if the Chiefs can win games handily without even an above-average statline from Mahomes, there might not be a unit in the league who can stop them.