Thu Oct 10 6:31pm ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, left, and Indianapolis Colts defensive end Justin Houston (99) meet following an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. The Colts won 19-13. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard (93) and defensive end Kemoko Turay (57) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) is lifted by teammate Nick Martin (66) as they celebrate a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The relationship between Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Texans counterpart Deshaun Watson goes back well beyond the 2017 draft, when along with Mitchell Trubisky they were considered among the best prospects at their position.
It goes back to their college days, when Mahomes was orchestrating the ''Air Raid'' offense at Texas Tech and Watson was trying to navigate Clemson to a national championship.
''I think we were going into our junior year,'' Mahomes recalled, ''and we went to a QB camp out in California. I talked to him, back and forth, about how he did his stuff at Clemson, how I did my stuff at Texas Tech. He's a great player. We kind of hit it off.''
They stayed in touch during the draft process, too.
''We took a lot of the same visits,'' Mahomes said, ''and we went to the same places, and we would talk to each other about what we went through. But we didn't necessarily knew where we would go.''
Trubisky wound up going second overall to Chicago. And when nobody grabbed a quarterback in the next eight picks, the Chiefs traded up to No. 10 and chose Mahomes over Watson as the heir apparent to Alex Smith. Watson wound up going two picks later to the Texans.
All three quarterbacks have flourished to some extent. On Sunday, two of them will get to square off when Mahomes leads the Chiefs (4-1) against Watson and the Texans (3-2) at Arrowhead Stadium.
''He's been doing a heck of a job putting the Chiefs in contention each and every game, and putting up a lot of great numbers,'' Watson said, ''because that's what he's been doing his whole career, and just being that leader - he's doing a heck of a job for that organization.''
Yes, it was Mahomes who rewrote the record books during his MVP season a year ago, and he is off to another blazing start this season. But it is Watson who comes into the AFC showdown with the hot hand, having thrown for 426 yards and five touchdowns while running for 47 yards last week against Atlanta.
''He's a heck of a player. We had him in here before the draft,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ''We thought the world of him. I know he was a heck of a player in college and he carried it over and he's playing really good football. I don't know exactly what they're asking and not asking him to do, but whatever they're asking him to do, he's doing it well.''
The matchup Sunday is more than just Mahomes vs. Watson, though. Here are some other story lines:
The Chiefs hope to get wide receiver Tyreek Hill on the field for the first time since breaking his collarbone Week 1 in Jacksonville. But they are poised to play without several key players, such as wide receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring), defensive tackle Chris Jones (groin) and left guard Andrew Wylie (ankle).
INJURY BUG, PART II
Texans wide receiver Kenny Still is still recovering from a hamstring injury, though it appears his bothersome ankle is finally better. Elsewhere, interior offensive lineman Greg Mancz has been out with a concussion and running back Taiwan Jones has been slowed by a hip injury.
The Colts slowed down the Chiefs by playing a bunch of man-to-man defense, and the Texans are likely to follow the same blueprint. But the Chiefs also have spent the week trying to fix their issues from last week, resulting in an intriguing offense-defense chess match Sunday.
''They obviously played a great game,'' Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said of the Colts. ''They went in there and stuck to their game plan and executed very well and came out with the win.''
BEWARE THE HONEY BADGER
Tyrann Mathieu picked off his first pass as a member of the Chiefs last week, and he'd like nothing more than to get his second against the Texans. Mathieu had a big year with Houston last season, and the club wanted to keep him around, only to see the Chiefs win the bidding in free agency.
12 ANGRY MEN
One of the most effective personnel groups for Houston this season has been ''12 personnel,'' which means a set with one running back and two tight ends. But why has it worked so well?
''It's a good question,'' Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. ''It has a lot to do with what you're going to see defensively. We've got a lot of different combinations of personnel groupings we can use and we try to study and we try to think about, defensively, how they're going to attack it. `What personnel are they going to use? What's going to be their scheme, and how does that fit what we want to do?' ... And sometimes it works. Hopefully it works more than it doesn't.''
Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson was benched by head coach Kliff Kingsbury in the Week 10 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in favor of RB Kenyan Drake. Johnson lost a fumble in the third quarter and Kingsbury like what he saw from Drake. 'We just felt like with Drake, needed to get something going and kept him rolling,' Kingsbury said Monday, Nov. 11. 'The last couple weeks, practices, games (he) has brought a little pop to the run game, the pass game, and we felt like he was the guy to try and close the game out with.'
Fantasy Spin: Kingsbury added that the decision was his and had nothing to do with Johnson's recent rash of injuries. He said he'll figure out the best role for both Johnson and Drake over the next few weeks. It's bad news for Johnson's fantasy owners, as he already has struggled to live up to his early-round draft status.
Arizona Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds (hamstring) has missed the past two games, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury said he is uncertain for Week 11 against the San Francisco 49ers. 'I would expect him hopefully in the near future,' Kingsbury said.
Fantasy Spin: Edmonds will return to the crowded backfield with Kenyan Drake and David Johnson both considered the top two backs. He had his chance to shine in New York when Johnson was hurt and Drake not yet on the team, but he was injured and will now return to a logjam with minimal fantasy appeal.
Updating a previous report, San Francisco 49ers WR Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) will not return for the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks due to an injury suffered to his ribs in the first half.
Fantasy Spin: With Sanders on the shelf it will be Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis and Deebo Samuel expected to pick up the slack in the pass game among the tight ends, especially with leading receiver TE George Kittle also inactive.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones (groin) has been ruled out for the rest of the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, Nov. 11 after suffering a groin injury in the first half.
Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson (hamstring) suffered a hamstring injury in the first half of the Week 10 game against the San Francisco 49ers and he will not return.
San Francisco 49ers WR Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) suffered an apparent injury to his right rib cage area in the first half of the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks. He pulled up on a route and was seen grabbing at the area during the telecast before leaving for the locker room. Sanders is questionable to return.
Fantasy Spin: It's a shame for Sanders and the 49ers, who just acquired him. Kendrick Bourne and Deebo Samuel should see more targets among the wideouts.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones (groin) left the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half due to a groin injury and he is questionable to return.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Emmanuel Ogbah (pectoral) is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery this week to repair a torn pectoral muscle he suffered in Week 10, according to a source.
Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson (calf) is considered day-to-day because of the calf injury he suffered in Week 10.
Los Angeles Rams WR Brandin Cooks (concussion) will not be able to play in the Week 11 game.
Fantasy Spin: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds will continue to be the top three receivers for the Rams. Woods and Kupp are must-start options in fantasy leagues, but Reynolds could be benched if fantasy players have better options available.
Minnesota Vikings CB Trae Waynes (ankle) is expected to be available for the Week 11 game after he was inactive for Week 10.
Free-agent DTs Carl Davis (Colts), David Parry (Patriots) and Justin Ellis (Raiders) worked out for the Green Bay Packers Monday, Nov. 11.
Free-agent QB Tanner Lee (Jaguars), WR JJ Nelson (Raiders), OG Larry Allen Jr. (Chargers), PK Elliott Fry (Ravens) and P Kaare Vedvik (Jets) were among the players that worked out for the New York Giants Monday, Nov. 11.
Updating a previous report, Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper (knee) has been diagnosed with a sprained medial collateral ligament and will miss some time. He is scheduled to receive a second opinion on the injury to determine how much time he will miss.
Fantasy Spin: Hooper has been one of the better tight ends in the NFL this season, so fantasy players should monitor the situation to see when he may be able to return. Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham will see more playing time, but neither players should be fantasy options.
Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (foot) may be sidelined for two weeks because of the foot sprain he suffered during the Week 10 game, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: It seems like Freeman will miss at least one game because of the injury, but fantasy players should keep an eye on the situation. Brian Hill will receive most of the work while Freeman is sidelined and can be a No. 2 running back or flex option.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (knee) is officially active for the team's Week 10 game.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert is coming off a disappointing Week 10 performance and probably will only see a handful of touches this week. He can be avoided in all fantasy leagues.
Seattle Seahawks WR Josh Gordon (ankle) is officially active for the team's Week 10 game.
Fantasy Spin: Gordon has been with the Seahawks for a little over a week, so he may see limited snaps this week against the San Francisco 49ers. Fantasy players probably should see him play in a game before considering him as a starting option.
San Francisco 49ers PK Robbie Gould (quadriceps) has been declared inactive for the team's Week 10 game.
Oakland Raiders LB Marquel Lee (ankle) participated in practice Monday, Nov. 11. He is currently on the Reserve/Injured list.