Why the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl favorites

The Kansas City Chiefs are once again Super Bowl favorites

By Chris Moore (Twitter: @fantasy_moore)

Defense Dominating

It’s funny how the 2021 NFL season has changed so drastically over the year. Through the first few weeks of the year, the Cardinals looked like Super Bowl favorites. Some thought the Chiefs wouldn’t make the playoffs. A lot has changed around the league from the beginning of the year to now. From 3-4 to now standing at 10-4, the Chiefs are back. The Chiefs have their offense rolling again and have surprisingly found a defense this season.

The Chiefs’ defense has been playing phenomenal lately, ranking in the top ten for turnovers forced and points allowed. The Chiefs’ defense has been a large part of the Chiefs’ current seven-game win streak. We have already seen what Patrick Mahomes and this offense can do when they are firing on all cylinders. Add in a top defensive unit, and the Chiefs are a dangerous team heading into the postseason.

Offense Heating Up

The Chiefs’ offense was struggling at the beginning of the year. But over their past five games, the offense is starting to look like the Chiefs we all know. Coming off a huge overtime win against the Chargers, the Chiefs offense just put up 498 total yards and a massive 34-28 overtime win against a division rival. Mahomes was red hot in this game passing for over 400 yards and three passing touchdowns. Last week the Chiefs offense looked like the Chiefs we have seen dominating over the past few years. With the offense starting to perform how we are used to seeing them and the Chiefs’ newfound defensive unit playing the way they are, there’s no doubt this team should be a favorite in the AFC heading into the postseason. If Patrick Mahomes doesn’t have to play a juggernaut defense “late in the postseason”, I’m not sure what can slow him down.

Super Bowl Favorites

The Chiefs are widely seen as the Super Bowl favorite.

We have already seen what the Chiefs can accomplish when Mahomes and Andy Reid are cooking. The Chiefs are a dangerous team that has already been in the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons. I don’t know how you can look at this team and not expect them to be in the Super Bowl after the last two years. The AFC is a real tight race right now. But the Chiefs are on a different level compared to the other AFC contenders. Until he shows us a reason why we shouldn’t trust him, I’m expecting Mahomes and the Chiefs to be in the Super Bowl and find redemption this year.

Projecting the Kansas City Chiefs Record

How many games will the Kansas City Chiefs win this year?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

According to the Draft Kings Sports Book, the Kansas City Chiefs are projected to win the most games in the 2021 NFL season. Their line is set at 12.5 wins with the over being a -125 betting favorite, which is clearly the highest of any team in the league. This should come as no surprise at all, as the Chiefs have been the best and most consistent team over the last three consecutive since Patrick Mahomes took over as the starting quarterback.

In the past three years, the Chiefs appeared in the AFC Championship game in all three seasons, won two of them, and won a Super Bowl. They had a regular-season record of 12-4 in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons followed by a dominant 14-2 record in the 2020 season. Since Andy Reid took over as the head coach of the team, they have made the playoffs in seven out of eight seasons including the last six years consecutively.

The Chiefs are returning the large majority of their roster and coaching staff for the 2021 NFL season so there is really no reason at all to believe that they won’t once again be one of the very best teams in the entire league. It’s also important to remember that this upcoming regular season has 17 total games for the first time NFL history, so the Chiefs will have an extra game to exceed that high 12.5 projected win total. Additionally, they are ranked a modest 11th in terms of strength of schedule for the upcoming season and will likely be the point spread favorite in all 17 of their games. All things considered, here is what the Chiefs record could look like at the end of the regular season.

Division Games

The AFC West, on paper, is projected to be one of the best divisions in the 2021 NFL season. All four teams have realistic expectations of competing for a playoff spot and none of them will be an easy game for any opponent on their schedule. Just like every season, the Chiefs will play two games each against the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, and Denver Broncos. All three of these teams are filled with talented young players and have high hopes of being teams on the rise. Last season, the Chiefs had only two losses both came against divisional opponents but one of them was a game that Mahomes did not play. It’s more than reasonable to believe that the Chiefs will once again win at least four of their six division games and more than likely will win at least five of them.

Other AFC Games

The other six AFC opponents that the Chiefs will face this year are the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, and the entire AFC North division. This is the most difficult grouping of games on their schedule considering five of these six teams made the playoffs last season, with the much improved Cincinnati Bengals being the only one that did not. Still, it would be very surprised if the Chiefs did not win a minimum of four of these six games because they will more than likely be favored in all of them. If they were to be an underdog in any of them, it might be when they travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens for Sunday Night Football.

NFC Games

The Chiefs will face off against five teams from the NFC conference this season including the Green Bay Packers and the entire East division. The NFC East is the worst projected division in the NFL so the Chiefs will almost definitely win at least three of these four games but will more than likely sweep them. The Packers are a difficult opponent but the game will be played in Kansas City and the Chiefs will be the favorite to come out victorious. It would not be at all surprising if the Chiefs win all five of their NFC games and would be disappointing if they didn’t win at least four of them.

Final Record

Based on the projections and analysis of each of their groupings of games it looks like the Chiefs are once again in line for a successful season. Even if they stumble, it appears that their floor is right about 12 wins with their ceiling being a perfect 17 wins considering what the probable betting odds will be for each game. That would put their most likely win total for the 2021 NFL season to be either 14 or 15 games. If looking for value, taking the over on their 12.5 total win line for the season feels like a really safe bet as long as they avoid major injuries. In particular, it’s hard to imagine any way they go under that number as long as Patrick Mahomes is healthy.

Why the QB situation may prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West

The 49ers QB spot is a question mark

By: Andy Davies

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. Only the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers (both 6) have more Super Bowl wins than the 49ers (5). The 49ers’ five Super Bowls all came between the years of 1981 and 1994. They have lost two since, in the 2012 and 2019 seasons. The quarterbacks that led the 49ers to the Lombardi Trophy were Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young. Three of those five wins saw Montana as the starter and Young as the backup.

Young is seen by many as the best backup quarterback in history, considering the gold jacket that he earned despite many years as the backup to Montana. He would win a Super Bowl as the starter after the franchise moved on from Montana. Ever since Young decided to hang up his cleats, the 49ers have struggled to find his replacement. Have they found the guy in Trey Lance?

Perhaps, but here is why the quarterback situation involving Lance and current starter Jimmy Garoppolo could prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West during the 2021 season.

Struggles Since Young

Jeff Garcia was the man to come in for Young. During his five seasons in the Bay, he threw for 113 touchdowns and 56 interceptions as well as 16,408 passing yards. He had a 35-36 record as a starter for the 49ers in the regular season and a 1-2 record in the postseason, meaning he never hit the heights of his predecessor.

Alex Smith was the number one overall pick in 2005, shattering Aaron Rodgers’ dreams. However, he was a good quarterback, not a great quarterback. Colin Kaepernick replaced Smith and took the 49ers to the Super Bowl. They ended up losing to the Baltimore Ravens in a game often called the ‘Blackout Bowl’. Kaepernick failed to live up to the standards he set that season.

He would be kicked out of the league for taking the knee in a protest against police brutality in 2016. He has not played a snap in the NFL since. Jimmy Garoppolo was traded from the Patriots to the 49ers midway through the 2017 season. He gave hope to the organization after winning all five of the games he started in 2017. The fanbase had hope going into the 2018 season.

Many non-49ers fans had San Francisco down as their dark horse for the season. A season-ending injury to Garoppolo in Week 3 saw the starting role shared between Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. However, the 49ers finished 4-12 as they went into 2019 with the second overall pick. Nick Bosa was selected and transformed the defense of San Francisco and Jimmy G had the best season of his career. He threw for 3,978 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Despite these stats, Garoppolo saw his production limited in the NFC Championship game as the coaching staff decided to use more of their running game. This led to many questions leading to the Super Bowl. The 49ers threw away a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter as they would end up losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54.

Garoppolo was criticized heavily for an overthrown pass to Emmanuel Sanders that would have given San Francisco back the lead. His 2020 season saw a mixture of poor form and injury. During the 2021 offseason, the 49ers traded up with the Miami Dolphins to gain the number three overall pick. They took Lance with the pick, showcasing their intentions to eventually move off from Garoppolo. There is now talk of whether San Francisco and head coach Kyle Shanahan will start Lance in week one. The other scenarios discussed are either Lance coming in mid-season or sitting out the whole campaign as the backup to Garoppolo. The uncertainty will have a significant impact on the 49ers’ season.

The Strength of the NFC West

This is a problem that will affect all four teams in the best division in the NFL. There is a chance that all four teams can make the playoffs. Los Angeles has an exciting new quarterback in 2009 first overall pick Matthew Stafford. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals have quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray that they would never dream of trading away. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ starting quarterback is largely unpopular by fans, due to a mixture of the overthrown pass in the Super Bowl, his poor 2020 campaign and his injury record.

San Francisco has the least trusted quarterback in the division. With the position being one of the most crucial in all sports, it does not bode well for a team when there is uncertainty in the position. Garoppolo may be benched at some point during the season for Lance. However, the 49ers would be putting a rookie that will still be learning the system into the toughest division in the NFL.

Learning From Mahomes, Jackson, Tua and Burrow

If San Francisco are to help Lance succeed, they will need to take some lessons from recent draft classes. Patrick Mahomes, widely seen as the best quarterback in the league, spent all but one game of his 2017 rookie season as a backup to Alex Smith. The Chiefs then traded Smith the following offseason and Mahomes has never looked back. In his first three full seasons as a starter in the NFL, he has reached two Super Bowls, winning one. He has also been crowned MVP and Super Bowl MVP and reached three successive AFC Championship games. All three have been at home. On the flip side, 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow started in week one of his rookie year. He wouldn’t last the season, only playing ten games before injury curtailed his first NFL campaign. He was impressive before his injury but there are no guarantees he will be the same player when he returns.

Lamar Jackson was a backup to Joe Flacco during his 2018 rookie year but won the starting role midseason. He has since gone on to win an MVP award and is the future of the franchise. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins brought Tua Tagovailoa in mid-season but he struggled in his rookie season. He is seen to already be on the hot seat, with many feeling the Dolphins rushed him in. These examples all show there are reasons for the 49ers to be hasty when it comes to choosing when to bring Lance into the starting role.

Lance Or Garoppolo In 2021?

The 49ers will have to decide soon who their starter will be in 2021. Considering Lance has only played one full season (2019), he is likely to start the season as the backup. He only threw for a combined total of 31 passing attempts, two touchdowns and 1 interception across the 2018 and 2020 seasons, albeit the latter campaign being disrupted by the pandemic. He is likely to be a work in progress but his 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in 2019 mean that he is one for the future.

Garoppolo will likely start in week one but it was clear from the NFC Championship game that Shanahan doesn’t completely trust him.

Jimmy G is a capable quarterback but his health is a concern. Expect Garoppolo to remain as the starter provided the 49ers are winning games but for Lance to come in should Garoppolo either be injured or start the season poorly.

Should this happen, this will be the end of Garoppolo’s time in San Francisco. Depending on timing, he will then be traded either before the deadline or in the 2022 offseason.

Can The 49ers Returning Players Avoid A Repeat Of 2020?

This is key if the 49ers are to challenge for both the NFC West and the NFC. After earning the number one seed and reaching Super Bowl 54 during the 2019 campaign, San Francisco finished 6-10 in 2020 and bottom of the division. A ‘Super Bowl Hangover’ played its part but the main cause of such a decline was down to a colossal amount of injuries the team suffered. Along with the aforementioned Garoppolo, the 49ers also saw Bosa, Dee Ford, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel and Solomon Thomas miss large chunks of the 2020 season due to injury.

San Francisco had 33 players reported questionable and there were 186 occasions when the 49ers reported a player on injured reserve. They had the second-most injuries of any team in the NFL over the past twenty years. Should all these players come back, then this 49ers roster will be one of the best in the league. This will make life much easier for whoever the San Francisco starting quarterback is.

However, from the strength of the division to the uncertainty at quarterback, San Francisco will find it tough to win the NFC West.

Fantasy Football: 3 Quarterbacks to avoid in 2021

Do not draft Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

Daniel Racz @Danny___Dimes 

Introduction

Despite the quarterback position making a minimal impact in most fantasy football leagues, taking a quarterback at any point does not have to be a fruitless endeavor. Navigating the position correctly can give you an edge that few other league-mates possess. Last year, targeting players in the middle rounds like Josh Allen (and fading players like Drew Brees) gave you a leg up on your competition. 

This year, there are a few tight ends that you should not be drafting at their current average draft positions, including some familiar faces from prior years. If you can properly fade the quarterbacks that will disappoint, you are in a good place.

Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes stands the best chance to finish as the top quarterback in fantasy football in 2021. However, he is currently drafted over one round ahead of any other quarterback. Drafting Mahomes is a significant, and unnecessary investment. When you draft anyone as the top player at their position, the only way they can meet expectations is by finishing as such. Taking a gamble on Mahomes as the QB1 instead of a better wide receiver or running back will likely set your team(s) back. 

The Chiefs rebuilt their offensive line, which should help the overall dynamism of the offense. Mahomes will have more time to throw to his elite weapons Tyreek Hill and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. However, the better offensive line could shift red-zone play-calling to favor giving goal-line carries to running backs as opposed to opportunities for Mahomes.

Joe Burrow

Joe Burrow is the easiest fade at the quarterback position right now. Burrow is drafted ahead of Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, and Ryan Tannehill. The addition of college teammate Ja’Marr Chase is keeping Burrow’s ADP high. Burrow has perhaps the best wide receiver trio in the national football league, but he also plays behind a poor offensive line and is coming off a torn ACL injury.

As a rookie, Joe Burrow met expectations. He did not do anything extraordinary like Justin Herbert, but he proved that he was fit to lead Cincinnati for the next decade. Then, all of the sudden, Burrow lost the second half of the year to a torn ACL. Burrow’s injury will likely make him less mobile. The consequences of Burrow’s reduced movement will be fewer rushing yards, a major disappointment to fantasy owners. Though Burrow offers a tad more rushing upside than Stafford and Brady, he is on an inferior offense and should be faded at his current cost.  

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield is not going as a top 16 QB, but an average draft position of QB19 still feels rich. Given the rushing upside that Carson Wentz and Daniel Jones offer, it seems foolish to take Baker ahead of those two dual threats. If Baker Mayfield plays the entire season, he will almost certainly finish as a QB2 in terms of total points and likely points per game. That said, the QB19 is not winning you any titles.

Baker is still on a run-first team due to the Browns’ elite offensive line and stud running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, hurting his upside. If Baker does end up slightly outproducing his ADP, will you be happy with him as your backup quarterback? Unless the answer is a resounding yes, stay away from Mayfield.

How the Chiefs learned from their Super Bowl mistakes this offseason: evolution of the OL

By: Brady Akins

The Kansas City Chiefs, the champions of 2019’s Super Bowl 54 and the back-to-back champions of the AFC, are not stupid.

Perhaps you don’t need anyone to tell you that, but regardless, it bears repeating. The Kansas City Chiefs, a model of consistency for years in the NFL and more recently the model for championship-level success, are not stupid.

Rather, the Kansas City Chiefs are well built, from top to bottom. Andy Reid has never been the kind of coach who attempts to fit square pegs into round holes. You will never see Reid attempting to force an outdated style of offense into the modern NFL simply because it’s how things used to be done. Rather, Reid adapts. His offenses change as the personnel changes. Because of this, Kansas City thrives.

Similarly, Brett Veach has never been the type of general manager who sat on his hands when an opportunity presents itself. He was in the front office when the team traded an arm and a leg to trade up 17 spots and draft Patrick Mahomes when they had the chance. He was the man in charge when they offered Mahomes a historically high-value contract, and he’s been in lock-step with Reid since day one, building a roster that has recognized its championship window and capitalized on it. 

One more time, for those in the back of the room, the Kansas City Chiefs are not stupid.

And so, it comes as no surprise that the smart, well-coached, well ran Chiefs have had an offseason for the ages. It’s no surprise that a coach as sharp as Reid and a general manager as aggressive as Veach were able to identify their roster’s most glaring weakness, address it in a variety of ways over the span of months, and transform that weakness into a strength.

That weakness of course being the offensive line. 

It doesn’t take a football mastermind to figure that out. You don’t need hours of film study to identify the holes in the Chiefs’ near-perfect roster.  One look at one game, Super Bowl 55, will show you all you needed to know. One glance at the stat sheet, one that shows that Patrick Mahomes was pressured on nearly half of his total dropbacks, lets even the most casual of NFL observers know that this line was a problem.

But not anymore.

Patrick Mahomes is an All-Pro, and possibly the best player in the league at his position. Tyreek Hill is an All-Pro, and possibly the best player in the league at his position. Travis Kelce is an All-Pro, and, well, you get the idea.

And that’s just on offense. Look toward the opposite side of the ball and you’ll see more of the same. Players like Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu are established NFL superstars, while players like L’Jarius Sneed and Willie Gay are fast approaching that level. 

All of this star power is what drove the Chiefs to a 14-2 regular-season record, the best in the NFL. It’s the star power that propelled Kansas City to win yet another AFC Championship with relative ease, despite that nagging issue on the line.

But all the star power in the world couldn’t mask that weakness when the chips were down. Super Bowl 55 was a blowout, and not in the favor Kansas City had come to expect with their recent playoff success. 

But Kansas City’s offseason overhaul happened. Their efforts to address the offensive line weren’t a patchwork job, but rather a top to bottom remodeling. Combine the superstars from the 2020 Kansas City Chiefs with the solidity of the 2021 Chiefs offensive line, and what you have is a perfect storm brewing in Kansas City.

This team was one game away from back-to-back NFL titles. Now, they’ve fixed their only issue. And they’re coming for the throne. Not just for another Super Bowl, but for the honor of the greatest football team in decades.

Who Were the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020?

A wrecking ball. A nearly unstoppable force. Perfect? No. Well, actually, they were pretty close to perfect. At least as perfect as you could expect.

Football is the ultimate team game, one where all 11 offensive starters, all 11 defensive starters, all the backups, all the coaches and coordinators and just about every member of the franchise in the stadium on game day needs to be constantly on their game. One position group, one player, or any deficiency whatsoever can be the difference between winning and losing.

And the Chiefs weren’t just better than any team in the AFC, or better than every team in the regular season, but they were among the best in just about every conceivable metric.

Despite having a quarterback who earned a reputation as a gunslinger in college, one who threw 29 interceptions through 32 college games, the Chiefs finished top five in the NFL in total turnovers, and were top ten in turnover differential.

Despite having a rushing attack that ranked toward the middle of the pack, the Kansas City offense as a whole flourished, finished ranked sixth in points per game and first yards per game. No other team in the league averaged more than 400 yards per game. The Chiefs broke that mark with room to spare, averaging over 415 in 2020.

Somehow, the individual stats are even more impressive.

Mahomes in 2020 was, once again, among the league’s best quarterbacks in just about every aspect you could ask for from a burgeoning Hall of Fame player. Not only was he first in wins, but Mahomes finished second in passing yards, second in quarterback rating, third in passer rating, fourth in total passing touchdowns and first in interception percentage. And after rewriting the standard for quarterback greatness in 2018, winning MVP honors in just his first year as a starter, this 2020 season was considered a relatively down year for Mahomes.

Of course, the quarterback had help, namely in the form of Kelce and Hill, two pass-catchers who have proven to be elite in their own right. Kelce, a tight end, finished second overall in 2020 for receiving yards with 1,416. The next highest tight end, Darren Waller of the Raiders, ended the season with 1,196 yards, despite playing one more game than Kelce. In fact, Kelce’s season marked the first time that a tight end has ever had more than 1,400 receiving yards in one year.

Hill had an impressive season himself, albeit in the shadow of Kelce’s historic 15-game stretch. On 87 catches, only the 17th most in the league in 2020, Hill ended the year with 1,276 receiving yards, the eighth-best in the league. Hill outdid himself in his ability to reach the endzone too, ending the year with 15 receiving touchdowns, the most behind only Davante Adams.

The offense is the bread and butter of the Kansas City Chiefs’ well-oiled operation, but it’s far from the only standout part. The Kansas City defense also finished as a top ten unit in points allowed per game, as well as quarterback rating allowed and turnover percentage.

The defense will never be mistaken as the strength of the Kansas City roster during the Reid era, but it’s far from a weakness. With an offense as star-studded as the one the Chiefs wield, the defense can afford to allow some touchdowns,  but they don’t even do that. Finishing top ten in both scoring offense and defense, Kansas City ended up second in point differential following the regular season.

And remember, all of this statistical dominance and offensive spectacle came before the moves made to address the offensive line. Kansas City retained all of their key contributors from the team that made the Super Bowl in 2020, the team that played so brilliantly for so long. The one thing holding them back from immortality, that pesky offensive line. 

Heading into 2021, the Chiefs made it their mission to make sure that one issue was addressed.

Fixing The Offensive Line

The Chiefs’ depth chart for Week 1 listed these five men as starters on the offensive line. From left tackle to right, the list went Eric Fisher, Kelechi Osemele, Austin Reiter, Andrew Wylie and Mitchell Schwartz.

Only Wylie remains on the Chiefs roster of those original five. Replacing them, a series of trade assets, free agent signings, and even draft picks looking to prove themselves. After the remodel, the Kansas City line has the chance to ascend from the group that gave away a Super Bowl, to a group that can help carry a team to a Super Bowl.

Fisher is gone. Stepping into his place at left tackle, the much younger Orlando Brown, a player who has made two Pro Bowls in his first three seasons. Brown fell all the way to the middle of the third round in the 2018 NFL Draft, and the Baltimore Ravens took him and made him a star. After trading a collection of draft picks to Baltimore, that star power is now coming to Kansas City.

Osemele is gone. Likely to replace him is Kyle Long, one of Kansas City’s free-agent acquisitions. Long is an NFL veteran, but a plug-and-play talent with three Pro Bowls to his name. After not playing for the entirety of the 2020 season, Long is back, and looking to prove himself. 

Reiter is gone, but a rookie steps in to potentially take his place as a starter. Creed Humphrey, Kansas City’s second-round pick in 2021, comes from the Oklahoma Sooners after a decorated college career. Humphrey finished as a freshman All-American in 2018, a Second-Team All-American in 2019, and a Third-Team All-American in 2020. He was the Big-12 co-offensive lineman of the year in 2019, and the sole winner in 2020. All this to say, the big guy can play. And he could be just the right player to put the Chiefs’ offensive line back on track.

Wylie isn’t gone, but he might be gone from the opening week starting spot. Joe Thuney comes in from New England as another free agent guard signings. Thuney has played five seasons in the NFL, has never missed a start, and was a part of two Super Bowl-winning Patriots teams. 2016 and 2018, New England’s two championship seasons with Thuney, the guard started on an offensive line that finished top five in sacks allowed.

The depth behind these new potential starters might be even more solid than the starters themselves. Lucas Niang will be a second-year tackle for the Chiefs and is a player with a decorated college resume that rivals Humphrey’s. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif rejoins Kansas City as a more than capable guard, one who sat out the 2020 season, but actually started for the Chiefs in their 2019 Super Bowl victory. And Austin Blythe, another Chiefs free agent signing, could even be Kansas City’s starting center himself, coming off the Rams roster where he started all 16 games at the position for Los Angeles.

The influx of talent on the Kansas City roster is concentrated nearly entirely on the offensive line, and in a way that covers all their bases. If the team needs youth and high ceilings, they have that in Brown, Humphrey and Niang. If they need seasoned veterans to come in and be solid, above-average players, Long, Thuney and Blythe will be there.

The Kansas City Chiefs were a couple of offensive line offseason acquisitions away from building an NFL superweapon. A Death Star of an offense, ran by Sith Lord Patrick Mahomes and all the toys he could need to wreck shop on a regular basis.

What Kansas City did instead of making a couple of moves was go all the way in. The Chiefs have completely remodeled their biggest weakness, and it could spell trouble for the rest of the league. 

The Ascension of Kansas City

As a reminder, the Kansas City Chiefs are not stupid. They are not a stubborn team that simply seeks to run it back. 

The Chiefs got close, and how could they not? Their control over the rest of the NFL shows up on the stat sheets. Kansas City players constantly found their names on the top of the stat sheets, some of them even made history, and it all came together to form a complete group that coasted to 14 wins. 

And rather than chalking up their Super Bowl defeat to bad luck, rather than sitting on their hands and opening the dice roll better for them next year, Kansas City took action. The Chiefs identified their weakness after that Super Bowl loss, and moved Heaven and Earth to fix it. The near-perfect team, with Hall of Famers lining the roster like it’s a Madden Dynasty, just got a whole lot better at roster spot that needed the most attention.

All of a sudden, that near-perfect team from 2020 is looking about as close to perfect as you can get for 2021. 

Early MVP favorites from each skill position

Is Mahomes the MVP favorite at QB?

By: Eli Grabanski

The MVP race is one of the most fun to watch in sports, as it leads to a lot of great debates throughout the season. In the 2018 NFL season, it was Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In 2019, it was Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Last year, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers took home the crown. This article will look at the most likely player to win MVP at each of the key offensive skill positions – QB, RB, WR, and TE. Let’s dive in.

QB: Patrick Mahomes

The MVP of the NFL is almost always a quarterback. It makes sense since they are the leaders of the team and have the largest impact on each game. To be in the MVP conversation, a quarterback needs to put up efficient passing numbers and be on a winning team.

This is by far the toughest choice to pick a favorite of the skill positions since there are quite a few great options, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll go with the safest pick and say Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has had an incredible start to his career, completing 66% of his passes for 14152 passing yards (307.7 per game) and 114 touchdown passes (2.48 per game) in his first 46 starts. In addition, his team has consistently won since he’s been the starter, with the team going 38-8 in the regular season with him as their quarterback. He’s got a great supporting cast and coaching staff that make it easier for him to put up impressive numbers, and he’s also far enough removed from his previous MVP award (2018) for any semblance of ‘MVP voter fatigue’ to fade away. For all of these reasons, Mahomes should be the favorite to win the MVP award in 2021.

Other Notable Candidates: Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott, Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Ryan Tannehill

RB: Nick Chubb

Besides the quarterback position, the running back position has the next best shot at winning the prestigious NFL MVP award. To be the MVP as a running back, you usually have to put up 2000+ yards from scrimmage, play for a winning team, and have a strong narrative as to why you should win.

Based on these criteria, Nick Chubb seems like a phenomenal candidate to win the award. The Browns are slated to be one of the top contenders in the AFC after finishing 11-5 a year ago. The Browns are also a run-heavy team, with the team running the ball 495 times in 2020. Head coach Kevin Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt are committed to running the ball, and running backs coach Stump Mitchell and offensive line coach Bill Callahan are among the best position coaches in the league. The Browns also have the #1 ranked offensive line according to PFF which should help open up running lanes for Nick Chubb to put up insane rushing numbers. All these situational factors, plus Nick Chubb’s elite ability to generate yards after contact and you have all the makings for a monster numbers year. Add in the narrative of the lowly Browns finally becoming a contender and you have the makings of a potential MVP season for Nick Chubb.

Other Notable Candidates: Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Taylor, Ezekiel Elliott, David Montgomery, Najee Harris, and Dalvin Cook

WR: Michael Thomas

For a wide receiver to win MVP, they need to be capable of putting up big numbers, play with multiple different quarterbacks (so the QB doesn’t take the award instead), and play on a winning team.

Of all the major wide receiver candidates for the MVP award, Michael Thomas probably has the best shot at this combination. The New Orleans Saints have a QB controversy going into the 2021 season, with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill fighting for the starting job. There’s a good chance that both make some starts at some point during the 2021 season. The Saints have been one of the best teams in the NFL in recent years and should be in the playoff mix once again. Lastly, Michael Thomas has shown the capability to put up massive receiving numbers in the past, including an insane 2019 season where he had 149 receptions on 185 targets for 1725 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns. He is absolutely capable of doing it again now that he’s healthy.

Other Notable Candidates: Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, Calvin Ridley, Davante Adams, Keenan Allen, A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, Allen Robinson, Justin Jefferson, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, and D.K. Metcalf

TE: George Kittle

Realistically, a tight end doesn’t really have a shot for the MVP award. But just for fun, if a tight end were to win MVP in 2021, which would it be? Travis Kelce? Darren Waller? Kyle Pitts?

The tight end with the best shot to semi-realistically win MVP in 2021 would be George Kittle. Travis Kelce is capable of putting up huge numbers, but in any season where he’s an MVP candidate his quarterback, Patrick Mahomes likely is as well. Darren Waller is also capable of putting up big numbers, but there are concerns about his team winning enough games to be MVP.

Now look at George Kittle. Kittle is capable of putting up huge numbers like Kelce and Waller. His team is projected to make the playoffs. There’s a good chance that the 49ers play two different quarterbacks during the 2021 season considering they drafted Trey Lance 3rd overall in the 2021 NFL Draft and they still have Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster – which means that the quarterback likely wouldn’t have the numbers to steal the award away from Kittle.

Other Notable Candidates: Darren Waller and Travis Kelce

why the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line is the most important unit in the nfl

Nothing is more important than Patrick Mahomes being protected

by: Chris Thomas

Following the end of Super Bowl LV, the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line has been under the microscope because of their poor play during that game. The Chiefs were without their Pro Bowl tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz due to injuries and the rearranged line limited one of the leagues best offenses.

It doesn’t take looking at the numbers to see the impact of the offensive line on a team who went 14-2 and made it to the Super Bowl. Anyone who watched the game could see how important their bookend tackles were to their success. However the numbers also pointed out how limited the Chiefs offense was with their makeshift offensive line that night. During the regular season the Chiefs offense averaged 29.6 points per game during the regular season and 30 points per game in the first two games in the playoffs. But during the Super Bowl was only able to put up nine points. Former league MVP Patrick Mahomes averaged 316 passing yards, 2.4 passing touchdowns, 24.4 completions, 36.8 passing attempts, and 0.38 interceptions per game during his 15 regular season starts. During the Super Bowl with a limited offensive line Mahomes had a stat line with 270 passing yards, zero passing touchdowns, 26 completions, 49 passing attempts, and two interceptions.

What happened during that game made upgrading the offensive line a major priority for the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason. The moves Kansas City made this offseason to retool their offensive line not only has a major impact on the teams success next season but the rest of the league.

What the Chiefs did to their offensive line this offseason

In shocking fashion the Chiefs decided to cut both Fisher and Schwartz early in the offseason that saved the team $18.3 million. It was shocking to see Kansas City cut both of them because if left them with the same unit that essentially cost them the Super Bowl. However Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach, decided to use that cap space to retool their offensive line. The headline addition to the offense from free agency was former Second Team All-Pro and New England Patriot Joe Thuney. They also signed former three time Pro Bowler Kyle Long out of retirement along with former Rams starting center Austin Blythe. Kansas City will also have two players who opted out of the 2020-21 season returning to the team who could start for them in guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and 2020 Third Round pick Lucas Niang.

Less than a week before the draft Kansas City made a blockbuster trade with the Baltimore Ravens acquiring Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr., 2021 second round pick (Nick Bolton), and a 2022 sixth round pick for their 2020 first round pick (Jayson Oweh), 2020 third round pick (Ben Cleveland), 2020 fourth round pick (was traded back to select 2020 fifth round pick Shaun Wade and add a 2022 fourth round pick), and a 2022 fifth round pick. The Ravens traded Brown Jr. away because he wanted to make the full time transition to left tackle which the Chiefs will allow him to do.

During the draft Kansas City also added Oklahoma Center Creed Humphrey, who many considered to be the best center in the draft, with the 63rd overall pick in the second round. They also drafted Tennessee Guard Trey Smith with the 226th pick in the sixth round. If not for the concerns created by the blood clots in his lungs he would have likely been a Day 2 pick.

How the additions to the offensive line impact not only the Chiefs but the rest of the league

It isn’t farfetched at all to say that Chiefs revamped offensive line could be a lot better than the line they had last year or even the unit from their Super Bowl season. They have added two former Pro Bowlers, a former Second Team All-Pro, and three promising young players via the NFL Draft. Kansas City has upgraded their starting line and has added some great depth to back them up and avoid what happened late last year.

So if the Chiefs offensive line is that much better than they have been the past two seasons it begs the question, what is stopping Kansas City from being better in 2021-22. A better offensive line can only mean better overall offensive production for the Chiefs passing and running game. If the Chiefs offense plays better next season than they have the past two seasons Patrick Mahomes could win his second MVP in four seasons and the Chiefs could play in their third straight Super Bowl.

Barring injury, if the Chiefs offense is more dangerous next year than they have the past two seasons there is no one that could stop them in the AFC and possibly the entire league. The fate of the Super Bowl contenders in the AFC rest in the hands of the Chiefs offensive line. If the Chiefs offensive line plays at an elite level it would be hard to imagine another team stopping or limiting Kansas City’s offense enough to defeat them late in the year. It may be harder to imagine many teams outscoring the Chiefs offense as well.

Patrick Mahomes’s quest to be the greatest

“The Quest for Canton” Mini-Series: Article 2 of 20

By: Trenton Roberts (Twitter: @TRobertsNFL)

Background:

As the NFL offseason slowly moves along, there is increasingly less to talk about as we wait for the season to roll around. With more time on our hands, writers and journalists are looking for anything to write about. That was where the idea for this series arose from.

In the NFL today, there are many young talents who seem to already be heading towards acquiring a bust in Canton. Reaching the NFL Hall-of-Fame is one of the most prestigious honors any player can hope to achieve in their careers and is what motivate many players to improve and play at the highest level. In this series, we will discuss how some of these players have already left their marks and what they can do to ensure their eventual enshrinement.

Over the next ten weeks, we will make our way through twenty total players in the NFL today under the age of 28 who are well on their ways to the Hall. Twice a week, a new name will be discussed and debated in order to see where they stand and what they can do in their “Quest for Canton”.

Article:

For the second article of the first week, let’s take a look at the most talented quarterback and arguably best player overall in the NFL today: Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Still just 25 years old, the young quarterback’s career is already worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. With a pair of Super Bowl appearances (including a win) and an MVP award already on his mantle, Mahomes seems easily destined for Canton at this early stage of his career. Although I could leave this article here and everybody would agree already, let’s break down the numbers.

Statistically, Patrick Mahomes ranks 17th all time in passing yards through a players first 4 seasons, with 14,152 yards in that frame. He also has second most touchdowns in that period with 114, behind just Dan Marino’s insane start to his career with 142 scores. While overall these numbers seem great, you must take into account that Mahomes only played a single game as a rookie in which he didn’t even score. 

Removing the stats from that game and imagining his rookie season starting in his second season, Mahomes leads all players in first three career seasons in both yards with 13,868 (nearly 1,000 ahead of Andrew Luck’s 12,957) and passing scores with 114 (16 ahead of the 98 put up by Dan Marino).

Moving on to the advanced statistics, Mahomes sports the highest career passer rating in NFL history with 108.7, as well as leading the all-time category of passing yards per game as the only player above 300 yards per game. On top of all of this, Mahomes career record of 38-8 gives him a 0.826 career win percentage, which, after four more games, would put him atop the all-time win percentage list, just ahead of Otto Graham’s 0.814.

With 26 quarterbacks already in Canton today (Manning, Montana, etc.), and a handful more coming in the next few years (Brady, Brees, etc.), the list is already full of some amazing talents at the position. However, should Mahomes continue his dominant stretch for a full career, there is every possibility that he could go down as the greatest of them all, and dethrone Brady as the eventual G.O.A.T.

Tune in early next week for our third installment of the Quest for Canton Mini-Series, in which we will talk about the younger brother of another future Hall of Famer: T.J. Watt.

Who has more potential: Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes?

Does Josh Allen have more potential than MVP Patrick Mahomes?

By: Caleb Holfoth (@cmhfilm)

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Both had fantastic seasons in 2020 and met in the AFC Championship where Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs were able to beat Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. Mahomes is entering his 5th season in the NFL and fourth season as the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. Meanwhile, Josh Allen is entering his fourth season in the NFL but similar to Mahomes it will be his 4th season as the Bills starting quarterback.

Allen and Mahomes are very similar in terms of their playstyle and their strengths as quarterbacks. Regardless of their similarities now they have had two extremely different NFL careers. Mahomes was drafted with the 10th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Chiefs who acquired that pick from the Buffalo Bills in the draft. Allen was taken just a year later the Bills traded up from the 12th spot in the draft to the 7th pick to select Josh Allen. Although Allen did not start week one in 2017, he has started every week since when healthy.

The difference between Mahomes and Allen comes in how their careers fared early in their careers. Patrick Mahomes sat his whole first season in the NFL as the backup to Alex Smith. Mahomes took over the season later when Smith was traded. In that season Mahomes was incredible winning the MVP award and making it to the AFC Championship. A year later, Mahomes took Kansas City to the Super Bowl and was named Super Bowl MVP in a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Mahomes then followed up that season with a third-place finish in MVP voting and a Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mahomes is the heart of the most potent offense in the NFL and has been one of the best if not the best quarterback in the league since he took over the starting job in Kansas City.

Josh Allen has had a career that started with tons of uncertainty and question marks. Allen was drafted in 2017 and was unable to secure the starting job in training camp in a competition against AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman who won the job. Peterman’s 12-3 INT-TD ratio tells you all you need to know about how long that lasted. Allen took over for Peterman in Week 2 and went on to start eleven games in his first season. Allen struggled to throw the ball but showed flashes of big-play ability as well as an ability to run the ball well. A year later, Allen was penciled in as Buffalo’s starter and played in all 16 regular season games guiding them to a wild card spot. Allen showed significant improvement doubling his touchdown passes and throwing fewer interceptions than the previous season. However, Allen still struggled some with a completion percentage of only 58.8% and had 14 fumbles. Nevertheless, there was a significant improvement in Allen. That year Buffalo’s playoff run ended in their first game as they lost in overtime to the Houston Texans after several missed opportunities. In 2020, Josh Allen improved immensely and much more than anyone could have imagined. Allen jumped from a QB with potential to second in MVP voting and one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league. Allen finished 5th in passing yards, 4th in Completion % (min. 150 Pass Attempts), 5th in Touchdown passes and added 8 touchdowns and 400 yards rushing. Allen led the Buffalo Bills to the AFC Championship where they stalled and fell to the Chiefs and Mahomes.

So, who has more potential?

This question is truly complex to answer. The first question that needs to be asked is what Allen and Mahomes’ ceiling is and how far away are they from it. Mahomes seems to be closer to his ceiling than Allen. Considering Mahomes already has an MVP and Super Bowl to his name it would seem that Mahomes is close to his ceiling. Meanwhile, Allen only has one year of elite production and even left a lot to be desired in the 2020 season.

Mahomes is close to his ceiling but can still certainly improve. Mahomes has an extremely improv style of play and while he is the best at it in the NFL, he certainly could improve his decision-making. In addition to that, Mahomes tends to make some of the simple plays harder for himself which is something that if he can fix would make the Chiefs offense even better. While these are very nitpicky things Mahomes is still not perfect. What this shows is that Mahomes is very close to his ceiling. There are not many areas where Mahomes can get better, and it is not a knock on his potential but more of a testament to how good Mahomes is.

Allen on the other hand showed a massive jump in 2020 but still had plenty of mistakes and left a lot to be desired in the AFC Championship and weeks 5-8, 10,12, and 14 where he did not have a passer rating higher than 90 whereas, in his other 9 games, he had a passer rating of over 100, and 8 of those games over 114. While passer rating is just one stat Allen was still up and down all season.

While he never played at a bad level, he had several games where he was more reminisce of his 2019 self than some of the elite play, we saw in the rest of 2020. Allen is still inconsistent, and this shows that he is further from his ceiling than Mahomes is and still has a ton of room to grown. Allen’s inconsistencies could be in part that he is still developing his accuracy and decision making but also that he is adjusting mentally to being much more capable as a quarterback than he has ever been. Regardless, Allen is inconsistent if he does not fix that will struggle to reach his potential. 

Who is better? Patrick Mahomes

Just based on previous accolades, playoff success, and head-to-head play. Patrick Mahomes is a better quarterback than Josh Allen. Mahomes is a quarterback with essentially no major weakness and is one of the best quarterbacks when he has to improvise. Mahomes is the best quarterback in the AFC, and you could argue in the NFL alongside last season’s MVP Aaron Rodgers. While Mahomes does have an elite supporting cast and offensive guru Andy Reid as a head coach he is an incredible player who makes plays that only a couple of other players in the league would even try to attempt. It is clear, Mahomes is better and has been better his whole career than Josh Allen.

Who has more potential? Josh Allen

Although Patrick Mahomes may be better than Allen, Allen has a higher ceiling and potential than the 2019 NFL MVP. What makes Allen have more potential is the fact that he was able to finish second in 2020 MVP voting, two votes ahead of Mahomes, while still showing some major weaknesses to his game. Allen had several down weeks throughout the season and still threw 10 interceptions to go along with 9 fumbles. In addition to Allen’s turnover woes, he also does miss throws and makes some poor decisions. Under pressure, Allen is so much better than in previous years making plays. However, there are still times where Allen does too much, and it ultimately ends up hurting the Bills. Allen tends to take some pretty big sacks which not only pushes Buffalo backward but also is when he tends to potentially lose the ball. With all of these problems, Allen was able to lead the Bills to the AFC Championship and a 13-3 regular-season record. What makes Allen special is his physical traits. Since he was drafted Allen was a known project, but he has been able to put it all together. Allen has been able to develop great accuracy and tame his massive arm becoming one of the best throwers in the NFL.

Allen has made leaps and bounds since he was drafted in 2018. What gives him more potential than Mahomes is the fact that he still has several areas where he can improve while Mahomes does not have much more work to do. Allen was able to have one of the greatest seasons as a quarterback that Buffalo has even witness as Allen broke several records. However, Allen still has some flaws in his game that can take him to an even higher level. Allen may never reach this potential and likely will take several seasons to get there if he does but it is hard to deny that his ceiling is not higher than Mahomes. Allen has better physical traits than Mahomes, equal if not better arm strength, and a stronger ability as a runner. If you combine that with the fact that Allen still misses throws because of lapses in his accuracy, has a lot of room to improve in his decision making, can learn to play less wild under pressure, and has yet to show elite play and a very consistent manner it is hard to deny that he can one day be greater than Mahomes.

Will it happen? Only time will tell. It is hard to tell actually how good Josh Allen will get. Josh Allen haters will tell you that last season was a fluke year. Josh Allen truthers will tell you he is just as good as Mahomes and Rodgers. While Allen may fall somewhere in the middle, he has the coaching staff and continuity around him to continue to improve every season. We saw the jump he made from year two to year three. If Allen can make that same jump into year four it would be hard to see him not winning the MVP award and supplanting himself as a top quarterback in the NFL and potentially the best quarterback in the league. As of now, Mahomes is the better quarterback. In five years, the Josh Allen Patrick Mahomes conversation could end very differently.

*All Stats from https://www.pro-football-reference.com/

Are the Chiefs Just an Elite Team Right Now or a Dynasty?

Defining the Patrick Mahomes era in Kansas City

By: Adam Hulse (Twitter: @AdamHulseSports)

The young career of Patrick Mahomes has been impressive so far, to say the least. His production through his first three full seasons is a huge reason why the Chiefs have found so much success recently. They have been among the best teams in the NFL for all three of these seasons, and are projected as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl in this upcoming 2021 campaign. Their recent dominance begs the question of whether this current Chiefs team should already be considered a dynasty or if they are just an elite team. Let’s take a look at their last three years to define the answer.

2018 Season

The second year in the league for Mahomes was the first full season that he was the starting quarterback. The young superstar took the NFL by storm on his way to winning the MVP. He put up an insane passing stat line of 5097 yards and 50 touchdowns. His dominance was the main reason why the Chiefs finished the regular season with twelve wins and entered the AFC playoffs as the top-seeded team. They would advance to the AFC Championship game to face the New England Patriots, where an unfortunate situation would lead to a disappointing outcome.

On the Patriots final drive in regulation, the Chiefs defense came up with a huge stop on 4th down that should have ended the game and sent them to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they were lined up offsides before the snap, which negated the game-ending stop. Now with new life, Tom Brady would lead the Patriots to a victory in overtime, advancing them to the Super Bowl where they would defeat the Rams and become champions. This was obviously a very frustrating end to a great season by the Chiefs, and one that left them feeling as though they should have been the champs.

2019 Season

The second season for Mahomes as the starter was not as jaw-dropping statistically but was overall even more successful than the first. He still put up an excellent stat line of 4031 passing yards and 26 touchdowns against only 5 interceptions, but it was the postseason run that really defined this season. The Chiefs defeated the Texans and Titans to advance to the Super Bowl where they would defeat the 49ers to become champions. Most impressive about this run was the fact that they came from behind in all three games to win, trailing by as many as 24 points against the Texans. After two seasons as the starting quarterback, Mahomes has accumulated an NFL MVP, a Super Bowl MVP, and most importantly a Super Bowl ring.

2020 Season

A new season for Mahomes is just a new opportunity to impress, and he did exactly that. This was arguably his best statistical season, with 4740 passing yards and 38 touchdowns against just 6 interceptions, and he was once again among the NFL MVP candidates. He lead the Chiefs to their best record since he took over as a starter, winning 14 games in the regular season and earning the top seed in the AFC playoffs for the second time in three years. After postseason victories over the Browns and Bills, the Chiefs would head back to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive season. Unfortunately, they would ultimately fall short to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs.

The Verdict: Elite Team or Dynasty?

There is no doubt that the Chiefs have been the most successful team over the last three NFL seasons. Their combined regular-season record over that span is 38-10 with a postseason record of 6-2. They made it to at least the Conference Championship game in all three seasons, including two Super Bowl appearances and one Lombardi trophy. All things considered, for now, the Chiefs are an elite team with as good a shot as anyone to win it all this year and every year in the near future. The one thing that really keeps them from being a dynasty yet is the time factor. Three years just isn’t a long enough reign to earn that label. That being said, one thing that is certain, if the Chiefs continue on this current pace over the next few years, they will not only be a dynasty but one of the best teams in the history of the NFL.

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