Although they suffered disappointment in the Conference Finals last season, the Chiefs remain one of the biggest forces in the NFL. Fans checking out the NFL Gameday odds comparison options will have to get a handle on how the Chiefs are going to fare this season before wagering on the AFC.
Still, the offseason has not been easy for Chiefs fans. GM Brett Veach’s approach of developing through draft picks and trading Tyreek Hill was not a popular one with supporters. But it enabled the Chiefs to free up salary space which they spent on affordable talent, as an alternative to making Hill the biggest-earning wide receiver in the history of the league.
Overall, this is not so much a rebuild as a shift to a new phase. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid remain laser-focused on returning to the Super Bowl in 2023. So, can they get there? In this article, we’ll take a look at the Chiefs roster and weigh up where they are, with the season just over a month away.
Expect Mahomes’ Return to Excellence
Mahomes had a bad season last year, but only by his high standards. He recorded 284.6 passing yards per game – still good enough to be fifth in the NFL. His touchdown-interception ratio was also low, but there were still some statistical highlights. He completed over 66% of his passes for 4,839 yards and 37 touchdowns. And it should be remembered that his preseason last year was disrupted by rehabilitation from the foot injury he picked up in Super Bowl LV.
He won’t have the genius of Hill to work with this season, but Travis Kelce remains in place and Mecole Hardman Jr. had a career-best season last year. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster are solid recruits, and draft pick Skyy Moore has huge potential. If Josh Gordon finds form, the receiver group could be one of the most reliable and effective in the NFL.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire along with Ronald Jones II make up a solid backfield, with Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon providing other options. And up front, Kansas has kept their versatile and deep offensive line together, giving Mahomes all the protection he needs.
Chiefs’ Defensive Reboot
After blowing a 21-3 halftime lead in the Conference Championship, it was obvious that the defense needed work, particularly in the pass-rushing department. Frank Clark’s deal has been reworked, and George Karlaftis, a powerful edge rusher from Purdue, will add power and energy on the left.
The inside of the defensive line remains strong amid a reshuffling of the linebacker positions, which will see Nick Bolton move over to the middle, supplemented by third-round pick Leo Chenal, Jermaine Carter Jr., and Willie Gay J.r, who can be a playmaker in the weakside linebacker position.
The secondary was a huge concern last season, and that’s where the bulk of the Chiefs’ draft picks were made. Tyrann Mathieu has gone, along with corners Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes. The reshaped secondary will now feature Trent McDuffie, a bonus acquisition, who will line up with Rashad Fenton as starting cornerbacks, and regular starter L’Jarius Sneed. There is also plenty of potential and depth in the defensive backs department, including draft picks Joshua Williams and Bryan Cook. Overall, the Chiefs’ defense looks in much better shape going into this season.
Special Teams Concerns
Harrison Butker, having resolved his extra point issues, is one of the NFL’s most reliable and accurate kickers, and James Winchester will be back as long snapper, while more is expected from the improving punter Tommy Townsend. Still, the loss of Marcus Kemp, Ben Niemann, Armani Watts, and Dorian O’Daniel, who all featured in at least half of the Chiefs’ special teams snaps last season, is a concern, and with success and failure in the NFL often coming down to the smallest of margins, Reid and Veach will be keen to ensure that there is no slippage in the special teams unit’s performance.
The Chiefs have hosted the last four AFC Championship fixtures and have won the AFC West for the last six seasons in a row, so anything less than a Super Bowl appearance in 2023 would be a disappointment. The fact that much of the media attention has been on the departure of Hill could work in the Chiefs’ favor this season, as they have shown in the past that they are at their most dangerous when written off. Their recruitment has been shrewd, weaknesses have been addressed, and strengths bolstered, so there is every chance that Kansas City will go all the way this season.
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