If you had the ability to look five years into the future, and you chose to focus on the NFL instead of, say, the stock market, there’s a really good chance you’d see two stars from Sunday night still running the show in 2022. The Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson and the Kansas City Chiefs’ Kareem Hunt put on a show within a show Sunday night, the centerpieces of a matchup that sounded decent enough on paper before turning into a Kansas City rout.
Start with Watson and the Texans, who were dealt an ugly hand right from the start when they lost defensive stalwarts Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt in the game’s opening minutes. From the beginning, Watson was playing from behind, and the Chiefs ripped off 16 points to start the game before the Texans got on the board.
But Watson, looking like a ten-year veteran rather than a guy who was just playing against Alabama a few months ago, reared back and fired strike after deep strike, including a 48-yard touchdown dart to Will Fuller and a 35-yard jump ball that DeAndre Hopkins hauled down for Watson’s fifth touchdown pass of the night.
You don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself, but Watson is already looking like a guy who can be around this league for a long, long time, a playmaker who can use both arms and legs to confuse a defense and target receivers half a mile away. He’s the first rookie ever to throw nine touchdowns in a two-game span; Robert Griffin III held the old record with eight, but don’t let that deter you just yet.
On the other side of the ball, Kareem Hunt continued his on-ground domination, rolling up his fifth straight 100-yard game. He’s the only player other than Adrian Peterson to start a career with five straight triple-digit games. Sunday wasn’t one of the best games of his young career, but he had enough yards after contact to stretch even routine plays into conversions.
We’ve seen this before from Kansas City; the Chiefs have reeled off long undefeated streaks before only to come up short in the postseason. But the Chiefs face a favorable schedule all the way out; of their remaining 11 opponents, only the Broncos, on the schedule twice, are playing up to expectations this season. The Chiefs return to Kansas City to face the underachieving Steelers next week.
The Texans, meanwhile, draw the Cleveland Browns next week, but have a tougher road ahead, with the Seahawks, Rams, and Jaguars still on the slate. Along with Jacksonville, the Texans appear to be in the upper half of the AFC South, but that could change depending on the state of Houston’s defense.
Regardless, we got a look Sunday night at two players set up to be stars for the long term in this league. When Watson and Hunt face each other in AFC championships over the next five years, we’ll look back on this night as the start of it all.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.