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NFL Team Previews: Kansas City Chiefs

That switch is probably part of the reason the Chiefs traded Dee Ford and let Justin Houston walk and brought in Frank Clark and Alex Okafor,

2018 Season Review: 12-4 (AFC West Champions)

The Chiefs had a hell of a 2018. After losing at home to the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card Round, Andy Reid and the Chiefs moved on from starting QB Alex Smith by trading him to the Washington Redskins and naming their 2018 First Round pick Patrick Mahomes the new starting QB. Mahomes played in Week 17 in 2018 and looked good, but it was unclear just how effective he would be even with Andy Reid and the offensive play makers he had on offense. Nobody predicted what Mahomes would become in 2019, an NFL MVP.

On offense the Chiefs were returning WRs Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, and RB Kareem Hunt who was phenomenal during his 2017 rookie year. They also boasted one of the best offensive lines in the league. Reid brought in the big armed Mahomes and this offense exploded. Mahomes MVP season stats looked a little something like this: 5,097 yards passing, 50 TDs, 12 INTs, 66% completion, 113.8 QB rating, 82 QBR, he ran for another 272 YDS and 2 TDs, and was only sacked 26 times. Behind Mahomes the Chiefs averaged 35.3 PPG and 425.5 YDS/G which both led the NFL.

He had two 1,000 yard receivers: Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Hill ended the year with 87 catches for 1,479 YDS and 12 TDs while Kelce finished with 103 catches for 1,336 YDS and 10 TDs. Sammy Watkins had injury issues again but eve in just 10 games he had 519 YDS and 3 TDs. They also got solid contribution from Chris Conely and Demarcus Robinson.

The sad part of the Chiefs offense was Kareem Hunts off the field issues. A video appeared of Hunt beating up a woman in a hotel lobby and rightfully so the Chiefs kicked him off the team, something like that should’t be allowed anywhere. Because of Hunts actions, the Chiefs lost a stellar player on offense but replaced him good enough with Damien Williams and Spencer Ware. The two split the last 5 starts of the season and because of an injury to Ware, Williams exploded onto the scene and ran for 203 yards and 3 TDs in the final 3 games of the year. In two games in the playoffs, Williams ran for 159 yards 2 TDs, and also caught 10 balls for 91 YDS and 2 more TDs.

The Chiefs never scored less than 27 points all year. In their losses alone they averaged 37.5 PPG including an shootout at the Rams that was the game of year in the NFL. The Chiefs lost that game by scoring 51 points. They also lost at the Patriots scoring 40, and at Seattle scoring 31. Why? They’re defense was atrocious.

The Chiefs gave up 26.3 PPG which was 24th in the league, and they gave up 405.5 yards per game which was 31st in the league. What saved this team was sacks and turnovers. The Chiefs recorded 52 sacks and forced 27 turnovers during the year. They were led by Chris Jones who recorded 15.5 sacks, 40 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 19 TFL, and actually had 1 INT returned for a TD as a DT. Dee Ford had 13.0 sacks, 55 tackles, 13 TFL, and 7 forced fumbles. Justin Houston in 12 games had 9.0 sacks, 37 tackles, 8 TFL, 5 forced fumbles, and 1 INT. So it’s easy to see that their defensive front was the strong part of their defense, but it ends after that. Their line backing core was mediocre at best and their secondary was downright awful even with 15 INTs. The Chiefs could not stop anybody. They did have some good defensive games, but those were against some of the worst offenses in the league like the jaguars, Bengals, Cardinals, and Raiders.

One game their defense did play well was the Divisional Round against the Colts where they won 31-13. The Colts came in as a very hot team with a very good offense behind Andrew Luck but the Chiefs managed to slow them down even when the Colts were threatening to score by forcing turnovers and making crucial stops.

Finishing the year at 12-4 and the overall #1 seed in the AFC, the Chiefs got to host the AFC Championship against the Patriots. Early on, the Patriots completely stifled the Chiefs offense. Going into the 4th quarter the Patriots were up 17-7 and the Chiefs were just hoping to get the game down to once score. Well the offense came alive and the Chiefs scored 24 points in the 4th quarter behind three Damien Williams touchdowns and tied the game at 31 with 8 seconds left on a Harrison Butker 39 yard field goal.

However, we need to go back to earlier in the 4th quarter because yet again the defense let this team down. Damien Williams scored a TD with 2:03 left to put the Chiefs up 28-24. Too much time for Tom Brady right? During the drive the Chiefs gave up two different 3rd down conversions. The biggest came on 3rd and 10 with 1:01 left in the game. Brady threw a bad pass to Rob Gronkowski that he tipped and was intercepted by Charvarius Ward. A mental mistake wiped that out though. Dee Ford lined up off-sides, and the rest is history.

Although the Chiefs tied the game, Mahomes never got the chance to get the ball as the defense let them down again in OT. The defense gave up three different 3rd and 10’s in the Patriots only OT drive that ended with a 2 yard Rex Burkhead rushing TD that ended the Chiefs magical season. Chief fans, don’t watch the video below.

Key Off Season Acquisitions

FS Tyrann Mathieu (3 Years, $42 Million)

Eric Berry used to be a staple for this defense and he was ineffective last year for a defense that was awful. In comes the Honey Badger that will completely change the back end of that defense under new coordinator

DE Alex Okafor (3 years, $17.9 Million)

The Chiefs need all the defensive help they can get honestly. Okafor was a very solid player for the Saints and will probably start at DE opposite the guy below him.

DE Frank Clark (via trade with Seattle Seahawks)

Chiefs made a splash by trading from Frank Clark after trading Dee Ford to the 49ers. Clark is basically Fords replacement. In four years in Seattle Clark racked up 35 sacks including 13 last year, and 136 tackles, 72 QB hits, 8 forced fumbles, and 1 INT. Dee Ford in five seasons in Kansas City actually had less numbers in every category than Clark in every category other than forced fumbles, where he had 9. Ford and Clark ended with the same amount of tackles. The Chiefs actually gave Clark a bigger contract than Ford got in San Francisco and the numbers back that up.

2019 Draft

Round 2 Pick #56: WR Mecole Hardman

We’ll get to Tyreek Hill in a second but at the time of the draft, the Chiefs though Hill was a goner so they drafted is replacement in Mecole Hardman. Hill is 5’9″ 185 LBS and ran a 4.29 40 yard dash at the combine. Hardman is 5’10” and 185 LBs and ran a 4.33 40 yard dash. The Chiefs literally went out and tried to draft the same exact player because that is how important that position is to the offense. Now, they have two of them. Good luck AFC West and anybody who plays them.

Key Off Season Departures

RB Kareem Hunt (via free agency to the Cleveland Browns)

Hunt was kicked off the team during the regular season for his domestic abuse against a woman in a hotel. The Chiefs did the right thing and although they managed after him, I still think its important to note that a team did pick him up and it wasn’t the Chiefs. The RB position for the Chiefs is looking like its up for grabs to a certain extent.

C Mitch Morse (via free agency to the Buffalo Bills)

Morse was a great center for the Chiefs and a very good pass blocker. Out of all the losses for the Chiefs, this could end up being the biggest one. The Chiefs still have a very good offensive line but losing a center, and one that is as good as Morse is a big deal for a team that likes to do a lot of different things on offense.

CB Steven Nelson (via free agency to the Pittsburgh Steelers)

The Chiefs secondary was awful but Nelson was still a 16 game starter for them last year and recorded 4 INTs. The Chiefs defense is going to look a lot different but Nelson could have been a big part of the new 2019 Chiefs defense. Instead he got a good contract and decided to take his talents to Pittsburgh.

DE Justin Houston (via free agency to the Indianapolis Colts)

Houston is an all time for the Chiefs. He played in Kansas City for 8 years and recorded 78.5 sacks but only played in all 16 games just 3 times during that span. Houston is an older pass rusher, his injury history, and the Chiefs moving on from a lot of guy on a very bad defense led the Chiefs to allowing Houston to walk to Indianapolis. Houston took his time as well as he didn’t sign with Indy until later on in free agency.

2019 Season Preview

Going into the 2019 season its hard to find a reason to doubt why the Chiefs won’t be one of the top 2 seeds in the AFC come playoff time. On offense they return pretty much everybody besides C Mitch Morse. Morse could be a bigger loss that not many will pay attention too. Although the offensive line should still be very good, centers and QBs for one have a very good relationship and trust the earn throughout their time together, two the center is usually the guy calling out all the protections and adjustments. With Morse gone, Mahomes will have to get used to taking snaps from whoever replaces him, Austin Reiter or James Murray, and one of those guys is gonna need to learn all the calls. It shouldn’t make a huge impact but as far as their offense goes, Morse is the biggest piece missing from last year.

The other news on the offense is Tyreek Hill. Hill had quite the off season as he was another Chiefs player being investigated for abuse against women. Hill was also looked into being charged with child abuse as well. There were some voicemails that appeared which were not kind of Hill and because of his past things were not looking good to the point where the Chiefs drafted his replacement anticipating the NFL suspending Hill for the season. Under a lot of the scrutiny, the NFL did nothing and neither did the law. For now, Hill will be starting Week 1 for Chiefs but with his past and this current situation, at any time Hill could be torn away from this team because of his issues.

This offense should be stellar again in 2019. They added Mecole Hardmon in the draft, and hopefully for them Sammy Watkins can stay healthy. At RB they have Damien Williams who returns and rookie Darwin Thompson has been making some splashes in camp. As far as the real football on the field goes, there should be no worries about the RB positions because Andy Reid is going to find a guy who can produce, fantasy football might be another story.

The big changes for the Chiefs that might make this team even better is the defense. First off Andy Reid fired longtime DC Bob Sutton and hired Steve Spagnuolo who has been successful as a DC for the New York Giants, including that 2007 Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots. Spagnuolo is going to come in and run a 4-3 defense which is a change-up from the 3-4 they ran in their tenure under Andy Reid so far.

That switch is probably part of the reason the Chiefs traded Dee Ford and let Justin Houston walk and brought in Frank Clark and Alex Okafor, two guys who have played in a 4-3 defense their whole careers. Not only that, but the Chiefs added to their secondary by adding Bashaud Breeland from Green Bay who showed some promise at the end of the year in Green Bay, and signed Tyrann Mathieu from the Texans. The Chiefs still also have one of the most dominate DL in the league in Chris Jones up front.

With all of those changes the Chiefs should still be in the top of league in getting after the QB, and forcing turnovers. They gave up 26.3 PPG game last year, and allowed teams to score 30 points or more six times. This new defense with Spagnuolo and the new additions should be better by default. If this defense could say, give up only 22 PPG or less, the Chiefs will be the best regular season team in the NFL.

Schedule

The AFC West plays the NFC North and AFC South. The Chiefs won their division so they also play the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.

Obviously the Chiefs are going to be on TV a lot in 2019, they have five prime time games as of right now. First one is Week 5 at home on Sunday Night Football against the Colts, Week 7 on Thursday Night Football at the Broncos, Week 8 at home on SNF against the Green Bay Packers, Week 11 on Monday Night Football at the Los Angeles Chargers, and Week 16 on SN at the Chicago Bears. They also have a 3:30 kickoff at the New England Patriots in Week 14 which will be the main late game.

The Chiefs get the benefit of a late bye week, coming during Week 12. They don’t have any huge stretches of home/away but they do play their first two games on the road against the Jaguars and Raiders. Their division opponents are very stretched out and not a lot of travel for them.

Overall besides their prime time games, their schedule is pretty bland. I will say if the Broncos or Vikings do prove to be good teams this year, their Week 15 and Week 9 games against those two teams respectively have a good shot at being flexed.

The NFL is also banking on them and the Chargers being the cream of the crop in the AFC West and AFC again this year, the Chiefs host the Chargers in Week 17 which is also a prime game to be flexed that week.

via 101 The Fox

Fantasy Player You Want

I mean there’s almost nobody not to love on this team. I’m not big on drafting Mahomes this year because he’s going way to early, along with Kelce. So I’m gonna go off the wall here and say Sammy Watkins. After Hill there is very little WR depth and Watkins is the clear #2 on an offense that will average over 30 PPG. I know the injuries are an issue but I have no problem picking Watkins late and taking a chance on a guy whose going to be apart of the NFLs best offense.

Fantasy Player to Avoid

For real football, the RB position is going to be fine for the Chiefs. For fantasy, I’m avoiding Damien Williams. There are multiple guys I like better than him in the second and third rounds, plus he had multiple years in Miami to prove himself and didn’t. Obviously with Reid drawing up plays and the other guys around him he’ll be successful, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him lose this job in short time.

Ceiling

There’s not much you don’t love about this team. They do get a 1st place schedule and have to play the NFC North this year. However they get an AFC that might be competitive, but doesn’t have a team that scares you. I can see the Chiefs winning 14 games this year.

Floor

The floor here is 10 games. They are just too good on offense to lose more than six games and their defense can’t get any worse. The Chiefs would be my favorite bet for one team to make it to the playoffs along with the Patriots.

Pat Mahomes throwing a pass during Chiefs training camp. (Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports – via Reuters)
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