Now that most of the big-name free agent acquisitions have been signed and the Draft has come and gone, how do we feel about the Chiefs when compared to their division rivals?
Oakland Las Vegas
… the Raiders
Key Personnel Losses: Jon Feliciano, Martavius Bryant (lol), Jared Cook
Key Personnel Acquisitions: Antonio Brown, Trent Brown, Lamarcus Joyner
Notable Draft Picks: Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, Johnathon Abram
Outlook: Even with AB and some decent prospects, this team will only go as far as Carr and Gruden take them — which, by all indications, is down. A middling-at-best offense combined with a lackluster defense and a pending venue change on the horizon doesn’t equate to ingredients for success. If they’re featured on “Hard Knocks” there’s a chance Antonio Brown may even quit the team before Week One.
Key Personnel Losses: Shaquil Barrett, Tramaine Brock, Matt Paradis
Key Personnel Acquisitions: De’Vante Bausby, Bryce Callahan, Kareem Jackson
Notable Draft Picks: Noah Fant, Dalton Risner, Drew Lock
Outlook: Free agent pickups all indicate that Denver is well aware the Chiefs have the best quarterback in the league, while their draft picks indicate that they aren’t very happy with their quarterback play or offense in general. None of this will matter. Travis Kelce is still the best TE in the league, Mahomes is the best quarterback, and while the Hill question still permeates the background it should be noted that Reid is one of the best offensive minds currently in the NFL. Denver will flail until Elway thrusts Lock into the starting role, and then they will collapse completely.
Los Angeles Chargers
Key Personnel Losses: Jason Verrett, Tyrell Williams, Darius Philon
Key Personnel Acquisitions: Thomas Davis, Tyrod Taylor, Brandon Mebane (re-signed)
Notable Draft Picks: Jerry Tillery, Nasir Adderley, Trey Pipkins
Outlook: Sad to say, but the Chargers are once again a team that can absolutely contend if — and only if — Philip Rivers can avoid the age regression he seems to be losing against. Keenan Allen is typically a non-factor after week 8 or so (injury-wise) and when he inevitably goes down once more they won’t have Tyrell Williams to lean against. The coaching staff isn’t exactly one to make people raise an eyebrow per se, but the defensive side of the ball is fairly formidable. The Chiefs will have to avoid as many “should’ve won that game” scenarios as possible to stay ahead of the Chargers, but my confidence in L.A.’s ability to get things done when needed hit an all-time low when watching their playoff game against the Patriots.
Prediction: 11-5, Wild Card berth
Kansas City Chiefs
Key Personnel Losses: Dee Ford, Justin Houston, Eric Berry
Key Personnel Acquisitions: Tyrann Matthieu, Frank Clark, Bashaud Breeland
Notable Draft Picks: Mecole Hardman, Khalen Saunders, Juan Thornhill
Outlook: Coming off a season in which a slightly better defense may have been the lynchpin for a Superbowl trip (and perhaps, victory), a lot of eyes will be on Steve Spagnuolo and what difference he can create on that side of the ball. Mahomes will likely see a slight decrease in box statistics if the defense can reach anywhere near middle-of-the-pack, but the needle is trending up high.
Prediction: 13-3, Division Winners, 1st seed in the Conference
How do you see the division unfolding?