Welcome back to the Spoiler Alert, folks.
As always, I'll start the week by reviewing my infallible predictions from the previous week, then move on to the Chiefs, and then finally cover the rest of the week's games.
Roster Cuts Review
Alright, so I wasn't as close as I thought I would be. I got the QBs correct, as the Chiefs went with Alex, Pat, and Bray, although it wasn't a difficult prediction there; Stave just isn't good enough to take the QB3 job away from Bray quite yet, and will probably sit the year on our practice squad outside of some QB disaster.
Running Backs I ended up being right; although the Chiefs only kept Chark, Hunt and Sherman initially, CJ Spiller was resigned after Steve Nelson went to the IR Boomerang. Odd turn of events, there.
Wide Receiver also got me, with Albert "Bert Alert" Wilson taking the final spot away from Name of the Year candidate Seantavius Jones. I'm not surprised they went that way, just disappointed, although I'm sure Jones will make the practice squad.
Tight End I also went 2/3 on, with Ross Travis taking the TE3 spot over Gavin Escobar. I think Travis has the higher upside over the known quantity Escobar, but I'm still surprised; Escobar seemed like a safer move, with a good floor as a blocker and a pass catcher.
Offensive Line was a rough area for me, hitting only 7 players out of 9. The addition of Cam Erving (literally like an hour after my post was published) threw things for a loop. The Chiefs ended up keeping Erving, Fulton (one of my two correct backup pick), Ehinger, and Jordan Devey, in addition to our starting 5 of Fisher, Witzmann, Morse, LDT and Schwartz. Jah Reid was cut, with Cam Erving making him expendable, and Isaiah Battle traded to Seattle.
On the defensive side of the ball, I was correct on all 6 of my defensive line picks, although Tanoh Kpassagnon was listed at OLB rather than DL; the sixth man the Chiefs kept, Jarvis Jenkins, was one of the last guys I cut from the roster, so I'm not surprised he made it.
Outside Linebacker destroyed me. Tamba and Dadi both went on the PUP list to start the year with Earl Okine getting cut, meaning that Justin Houston and Dee Ford are the only ones I got correct. Kpassagnon and Frank Zombo round out the OLB position group; carrying only 4 guys there, with one being a very raw rookie, kind of worries me. However, if Houston is fully healthy and Ford makes another jump, we should be fine.
Inside Linebacker was kinder to me; all 5 of my guys made it onto the team, although the Chiefs also kept Terrence Smith as a 6th ILB. Given the shakiness of the position group, I can't be mad about more depth.
Cornerback is one of the position groups that worries me the most, outside of Marcus Peters at LCB; the loss of Steve Nelson means that Gaines will probably be our 3rd CB. However, I went 6/6 at the position group, and if TMitch is healthy to start the year at New England, it will be a good day for us all.
Safety was another area I got perfect, going 4/4, although it was difficult to argue for any of t he guys who didn't make it. Berry, Parker, Sorenson and Murray are a solid group, one of the best S rooms in the league, and we kept the boys together.
Special Teamers are, of course, Cairo, Dustin, and Winchester. Ficken sucks.
All in all, I missed 8 out of 53. I'll take it.
Week One Preview
With that business out of the way, it's time to discuss how the Chiefs and the Patriots will match up on Thursday night in Foxborough, a game I will unfortunately only be able to watch half of; working on Thursday night is a terrible thing, kids, don't do it.
The New England Patriots (whose bottom-feeding fans can be found at PatsPulpit.com, should you wish to investigate the enemy) are rightfully looked at as the class of the AFC and the favorite to win the Super Bowl this year; having the best QB of all time and best coach of all time together makes that kind of inevitable. However, I don't think they're invincible, and there are several factors in our favor going into this game.
The first weakness to the Pats is their pass-rush. Rookie DE Derek Rivers is out for the year with a torn ACL, leaving them with starting DEs of Lawrence Guy and Trey Flowers. Looking at the roster, it doesn't look like they have much in the way of a pass-rush, and with a stout OL on our side, it's on Alex to stay in the pocket and take advantage of any blitzes leaving an opening in coverage.
The second thing that stands out to me is health. The Chiefs, even with Tamba Hali on PUP and Nelson on IR, are the healthier team than the Patriots, who have lost Julian Edelman, Derek Rivers, backup DL Corey Vereen, and CB Cyrus Jones for the year already. Edelman is easily the best WR on the roster, and Tom Brady's stats all take a sharp dive when he isn't on the field. According to Patriots Wire:
In Brady’s nine games with a healthy Edelman, the Patriots quarterback threw for 338.1 yards per game, 24 touchdowns and three interceptions by completing 67.8 percent of his passes, as noted by The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin. But when Edelman went down with an injury, Brady threw for 246.7 yards per game, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions by completing 59.4 percent of his passes in the seven games that followed.
That's a noticeable difference. Although Rob Gronkowski looms large, without Edelman the Patriots offense becomes a bit less scary. The loss of Cyrus Jones is also a factor, as he figured to be their 3rd CB behind Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore. The depth there is not enviable (Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones and Johnson Bademosi rounding out their CB room), and there's no one in their secondary that can match up with Tyreek Hill's speed.
Another factor relating to health is, of course, Rob Gronkowski. When healthy, he's one of the top 3 TEs of all time and is a terror for any D coordinator. However, his health is very hit or miss, and if he is slowed at all by his numerous injuries, it would be a huge boon for the Chiefs.
Working against the Chiefs, the biggest factor is the difference in QB play; Tom Brady is the best of all time, and despite having turned 40 last month, he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. Alex Smith is limited as a passer, and Tom Brady gives any team he's on an advantage, plain and simple.
Factoring into that is the uncertainty of the LCB spot for the Chiefs. If Terrence Mitchell is healthy, then we start him and play Gaines in the slot (probably.) If he's not ready to go week one, then we end up with a CB2 of Gaines and a CB3 of Kenneth Acker. While a healthy pass-rush should help, New England will definitely take advantage of that kind of matchup. Look for Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola to feast on the underneath stuff week one if our secondary takes any more hits.
One final thing that could be the Chiefs undoing is, of course, the coaching matchup; while Andy Reid is one of the most devious play-callers of the era, Belichick is undisputed as the best alive. Both of these coaches, with a full offseason to prepare, are some of the scariest things for a team to prepare for, but Reid's propensity to mismanage the clock and a less-than-stellar record against Belichick means that the Chiefs are at a coaching disadvantage for possibly the only time this season.
Chiefs Offense V Patriots Defense
I give the edge here to the Patriots defense; the strength of the Pats DTs will probably make it difficult to run up the middle against them, and the LB duo of David Harris and Dont'a Hightower will probably be tough to beat on outside runs. While Tyreek Hill should give the defense fits, I would assume that he is bracketed by Butler and Devin McCourty, leaving Patrick Chung to match up against Kelce. While I'd give Kelce the advantage there, Stephon Gilmore should match up well against Chris Conley on the outside, leaving us with Hunt or Chark coming out of the backfield against their LB corps.
Patriots Offense V Chiefs Defense
Our pass-rush should make good work of the Patriots OL, and Bennie Logan, Chris Jones, and Allen Bailey should make running the ball on us a difficult proposition. Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead and James White are dangerous out of the backfield, and I'd be hesitant to say that our ILBs will be able to cover them effectively. The loss of Edelman is huge for our secondary, who should put Eric Berry on Gronkowski and leave the CBs on islands against the Patriots receivers. Brady will pick on our LCB spot, which leads me to think that Cooks will be lined up against it a majority of the night, leaving Chris Hogan/Danny Amendola/Philip Dorsett to fight with Peters. Overall, I'll give the advantage to the Patriots here, as this offense looks like one that could rival the '07 Patriots, '16 Falcons and '13 Broncos as one of the best of the century, and while our defense should be very good, I just don't think we can keep up.
I give the advantage to the Chiefs; Dave Toub is the best Special Teams Coordinator in the game right now, with Ty Hill and De'Anthony Thomas liable to break one off at any time. Gostkowski isn't as good as he used to be, and Danny Amendola doesn't scare me as a returner.
Advantage again goes to the Patriots; since 2010, the Patriots have only lost 7 games at Gillette Stadium, and Bill Belichick is the reason for it.
How the Chiefs Can Win
Tyreek Hill or DAT break off a huge return to set the Chiefs up with good field position early, and an early pick gives the Chiefs a good lead. Justin Houston, Dee Ford, and Chris Jones combine for two sacks and a gob of pressures on the QB, and the Patriots miss Edelman's security blanket as the short routes fail to fool the Chiefs CBs.
How the Patriots Can Win
A quick-strike TD puts the Chiefs in an early hole, and Belichick's defense takes away the short routes, daring Alex Smith to beat them deep. Malcolm Butler manhandles Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce disappears as the Chiefs struggle to run the ball. Tom Brady takes advantage of our CB depth and dinks and dunks up and down the field, while Mike Gillislee burns through clock with 4 or 5 yard runs.
I think that it'll be close, but the Patriots take the game 24-20 on a late TD pass to Chris Hogan, and the Chiefs 2 minute drill is unable to produce the needed points. I don't see this being a blowout either way, and it should be a good game.
The Rest of the NFL
Noon Arrowhead Time:
Jets @ Bills: Jets 3, Bills 21
The Jets are garbage; not even hot garbage, that gives them too much credit. Despite the BIlls doing their best to lose as well, they should win handily. Fantasy play of the game: LeSean McCoy.
Jags @ Texans: Jags 10, Texans 16
The Jags have a very solid team and a scary assortment of playmakers paired with a dumpster fire of a QB room. The Texans, piloted by human placeholder Tom Savage, should win this in a boring, low-scoring slugfest. Fantasy play of the game: Lamar Miller.
Steelers @ Browns: Steelers 30, Browns 7
The Steelers should be looked at as one of the true contenders in the AFC, and the Browns would be thrilled to win 4 games. Steelers win a laugher. Fantasy play of the game: literally every Steeler you can find.
Cardinals @ Lions: Cardinals 14, Lions 17
This should be an interesting game between two Wild Card contenders in the NFC; the Cards are looking for one last hurrah with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitz, while the Lions look to improve upon last year with Matt Stafford slinging the rock around. I think the Lions squeak it out here.Fantasy play of the game: Marvin Jones Jr.
Buccaneers @ Dolphins: Bucs 28, Dolphins 21
I think the Bucs have a sneaky shot at being the NFC South winner this season, on the back of a stacked offense. The Dolphins are helmed by Jay Cutler. Yeah. Fantasy play of the game: Cameron Brate.
Falcons @ Bears: Falcons 33, Bears 7
I actually like where the Bears are headed this year, but their offense relies on a lot of ifs; IF Kevin White finally lives up to his draft pick, IF Jordan Howard goes off again, IF Mitch Trubisky looks good in the regular season once Mike Glennon goes down in flames... Falcons should make short work of DA BEARS. Fantasy play of the game: Tevin Coleman.
Raiders @ Titans: Raiders 21, Titans 24
The Titans and Raiders look to be teams on the come up this year, with both featuring young passers with talent, loaded offensive rosters, and strong OL play. The difference here is defense; Tennessee has one, and I'm not convinced about Oakland's. It'll be a close one, folks. Fantasy play of the game: Eric Decker.
Ravens @ Bengals: Ravens 14, Bengals 20
I also like the Bengals to make a bounceback this season; Dalton is better than most around these parts think, and with a restocked set of skill position players, he could start showing how he played in 2015 wasn't a fluke. Flacco barely made it back to practice, so I don't think he's going to be 100% for this game. Fantasy play of the game: Tyler Eifert.
Eagles @ Redskins: Eagles 12, Redskins 14
I won't be watching this game, and neither should you. Skins are the better team here, and Kirk > Carson for now. Fantasy play of the game: Alshon Jeffery.
3:30 Arrowhead Time
Colts @ Rams: Colts 3, Rams 9
Definitely won't watch this one. If Luck is still hurt (he is) then the Colts are the worst team in the AFC, including the Jets. Rams win a snoozefest. Fantasy play of the game: Greg Zuerlein.
Panthers @ 49ers: Panthers 28, 49ers 17
The 49ers are gonna be bad, but not as bad as last year. The Panthers should also make a big comeback, and I think Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel give this offense a new, dangerous look. Fantasy play of the game: Christian McCaffery.
Seahawks @ Packers: Seahawks 24, Packers 21
I think this game will suck until the final ten minutes, where the Seahawks will make a stunning victory that tears the hearts out of Green Bay fans everywhere. That remind you of anything? Fantasy play of the game: Jimmy Graham.
(SNF) Giants @ Cowboys: Giants 26, Cowboys 17
If the Cowboys are missing Zeke, then this will be an easy win for the G Men. If Zeke is on the field, I think the Giants win a much closer game. I assume that Zeke will not be on the field. Fantasy play of the game: Sterling Shepard.
(MNF) Saints @ Vikings: Saints 28, Vikings 14
Drew Brees in a dome. That's all I should have to say. Fantasy play of the game: Drew Brees.
(MNF) Chargers @ Broncos: Chargers 21, Broncos 7
The Broncos releasedTJ Ward, which surprised me, and they also let Wade Philips walk away in the offseason, which made me burst out laughing. Look for the Denver D to regress in a big way, and a resurgent (and not yet injured) Chargers O to lap the Donkeys. Fantasy play of the game: Keenan Allen.
So there you have it, folks, week 1 of the Spoiler Alert's regular season coverage. I'm so excited to write this for you guys, and bring you some in-depth coverage of the Chiefs as best I can. IF you have any comments on what you'd like this article to cover (more in-depth looks at the rest of the league? Ignore the other teams all together? Reviews of various ice creams?) then please let me know. The Chiefs are on the warpath, ladies and gentlemen, so let's buckle up.