Welcome back to the NFL season. It’s been a long wait, and we almost didn’t get it, but here we are. Every week I’ll rank the games based on how much of a rooting interest we Chiefs fans have in the game. Of course for week 1 it’ll be a lot of guessing and projecting (last year I had the Chargers losing week 1 as our top priority) but it provides a guide when you have some non-Chiefs game on in the background and wonder who you should be rooting for.
But first the rules.
- The rankings and interests are based solely on which outcomes benefit the Chiefs the most. So while some may root for the Steelers to beat the Raiders because we hate the Raiders, from the Chiefs perspective it’s best for the Raiders to win and make it easier for the Chiefs to get the top seed.
- NFC vs. NFC matchups won’t be ranked. The only way they impact the Chiefs is if we get down to the 4th tiebreaker for playoff seeding (meaning head-to-head, win-loss record in conference games, and win-loss record in common games are all tied). in which case they factor into strength of victory and strength of schedule. Not only is this unlikely to be relevant, but even if it is we already know to root for NFC South teams (since that’s who we play this year).
- The Chiefs game won’t be ranked because, duh, we root for the Chiefs to win and it will always be our most important game.
1: Giants over Steelers
I’ve surprised myself with this choice, but the other top AFC teams are playing other good AFC teams so neither side is great for the Chiefs. The Steelers are the only AFC contender playing a team that the Chiefs clearly don’t care about, so they get the top spot.
2: Dolphins over Patriots
Another odd choice, since I think the Patriots will be absolute garbage this year. But there is that part of me that fears that they’ll be able to keep on chugging, so it’d be nice if the Dolphins can confirm that they’re dead.
3: Jaguars over Colts
The Colts probably aren’t going to be at the Chiefs’ level, but Rivers used to be really good, and if he finds that old form they could be dangerous. On the other hand the Jaguars have a nice quarterback in Minshew with nothing around him, so they’re not going to be a real threat and should be safe to root for.
4: Bengals over Chargers
The Chargers were only 5-11 last year, but they were 12-4 in 2018 and there were a lot of signs that historically point to a team who’s primed to turn it around. Best for the Bengals to go ahead and nip their hopes in the bud.
5: Jets over Bills
Ironically this same matchup was ranked 5th in the week 1 rankings last season. While the Bills are a bit overrated, they could conceivably ride an easy division to a good record so it’s best to root against them.
6: Panthers over Raiders
The Raiders shouldn’t be much of a threat to the Chiefs, but better safe than sorry.
7: Titans over Broncos
I actually have the Titans ranked better than the Broncos, but the Broncos have a much higher ceiling. The Titans are a solid team but I don’t think they’ll contend for the top seed, while the Broncos have a lot of young talent that could come together this year and make them dangerous. Hopefully we’ll see a repeat of last year when the Titans crushed the hope of an offseason darling in the Browns in week 1.
8: Ravens over Browns
No, this isn’t due to my well-known hatred of the Ravens (which isn’t even really hatred, I still think they’ll have a winning record), but what the outcome of this game will say about the winner. While I don’t think the Ravens will be on the Chiefs’ level, they did go 14-2 last year, so it’s always possible they repeat that this year. On the other hand the Browns got a lot of hype for a reason, and they improved their two biggest weaknesses this offseason (offensive line and head coach). It’s very possible that the Browns will be as good as everybody thought they’d be in 2019, and if so they could be a real threat.
So it’s not that these are bad teams, but what the post-game narrative will be. I think the Browns have a higher ceiling so better for them to lose, but you can argue the other way as well.