Stocks represent ownership in publicly traded companies that are accountable to shareholders on a quarterly basis. They tend to rise when expectations of future earnings rise and fall when expectations fall. Just meeting expectations is sometimes not enough to push prices upward, but any letdown can send prices plunging.
For the Chiefs, expectations have been ratcheting upward all season. Beating a team like the Browns doesn’t necessarily push their stock higher, but losing to them would certainly hurt it. This Chiefs team continues to perform at a high level, especially on offense. Mahomes setting records and throwing for over 300 yards is no longer a surprise, it’s the expectation.
Todd Haley, when he coached here, famously held the Chiefs accountable in quarters of each season. If they can finish each quarter 3-1 or 4-0 as they’ve done so far, they’ll likely win the division and be in the driver’s seat of the AFC. This week was the start of the third quarter, and Kansas City is now 1-0 after defeating the team that just fired Haley. We’ve come to expect offensive production and wins at this point, and Mahomes continues to deliver both.
Kendall Fuller: Fuller is certainly living up to expectations after a couple of tremendous performances of late. The Chiefs’ best corner is contributing in coverage, making plays on the ball and tackling in the open field. Maybe Andy Reid is right: Fuller (along with the rest of the defense) will continue to improve on the field as they get on the same page. Fuller clearly is more comfortable in recent weeks, and we should be bullish on No. 23 and the Chiefs’ defensive trend.
Travis Kelce: Don’t miss this piece from our own Matt Lane on the best tight end in the NFL. I think we’ve been spoiled by the level at which Kelce plays. He consistently delivers in ways no other player at his position can. We’ve come to expect a tight end that can run routes like an elite wide receiver, can catch the ball in traffic and make big plays in clutch situations. Kelce is making it look easy and routine, but it most certainly isn’t, at least not for the rest of the league.
Breeland Speaks: No, he hasn’t “arrived” yet. Speaks still has plenty of work to do before he’s the type of player that other teams have to game-plan around. That said, it feels like he’s consistently trending up and showing the type of relentless effort that you want to see. Speaks is making plays in the backfield, with a couple more tackles for loss this week, and has a chance to put together a solid rookie campaign.
Daniel Sorensen: As the first Chief to return from IR this season, Sorensen will step into a secondary that needs his help. Sorensen has the respect of teammates and coaches and the experience to reduce mistakes that have plagued other Chiefs safeties in 2018. Sorensen has been a good blitzing safety and has had a knack for turnovers in the past. Expectations for Sorensen’s return may be ratcheting higher than they logically should be. We’ll see if he’s able to deliver in the third quarter and beyond.
Patrick Mahomes: Apparently, the street now expects 300 yards and 3 touchdowns each week from Mahomes because that’s just what he does. What was impressive this week is the fact that five Chiefs skill players had more than 50 yards receiving this week. He’s spreading the ball around and manipulating defenses like a much more experienced signal caller.
Kareem Hunt: Kareem Hunt is coming off of his most dominant statistical performance of the season, launching himself back into the conversation of the NFL’s top backs. But, for those of us who were watching, he’s been there all along. We’re running out of superlatives for Hunt, but this stat was another eye-opener:
Kareem Hunt is on pace to become the first player in NFL history with at least 10 rushing and 10 receiving TD in a single season.— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) November 4, 2018
This after leading the NFL in rushing as a rookie.
Legitimately has to be one of the best starts to a career by any RB in NFL history.
The Chiefs rushing offense: Unfortunately for opposing defenses, it doesn’t get that much easier if someone other than Hunt carries the ball. Spencer Ware has earned more touches, after being the pass-protecting back for much of the first half season, including a huge 25-yard catch and run to move the chains this week. With 139 yards on 5.8 yards per carry this week, 198 yards on 6.8 yards per carry last week, all of a sudden, the offense that features Mahomes highlights every week can also get it done on the ground. The Chiefs feature two punishing backs that can do it all, and two receivers in Hill and Watkins that are a threat on end-arounds and other misdirection plays. Not to mention Andy Reid’s elite screen game that’s a natural extension of the run game. Mahomes gets the headlines, but the ground game is a significant part of the story.
The Chiefs special teams: An overlooked part of the Chiefs success this year is the play of Dave Toub’s group. A blocked punt by Damien Williams this week was the flashy play, but these guys have been winning the field position battle all season. According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs boast the best special teams unit in the league, and it’s not particularly close. With the league’s best passing offense, league’s best special teams unit and an improving defense and running game, this team is balanced and difficult to beat, regardless of what Rodney Harrison thinks.
Others trending in a bullish direction: Dorian O’Daniel, Eric Murray, Chris Jones, Steven Nelson, Dee Ford, former Browns/current Chiefs on the offensive line
Tanoh Kpassagnon: Even with Justin Houston out, Kpassagnon didn’t see significant snaps this week (Speaks outsnapped him, 65-13). He’s got four tackles and no sacks this season. He looked like a breakout candidate this preseason and even made the stock UP list last week. But, it’s possible that we overreacted to one huge play against Denver. Considering Ford’s stellar season and the development of Speaks, Kpassagnon’s window for becoming a full-time player might be closing with Houston returning.
Bob Sutton: It might seem counterintuitive that Sutton makes this list again, even when the defense is showing signs of life. They are now top five in sacks, top 10 in interceptions and are among the best in the league on third down. But, some of the personnel decisions are still puzzling. He put the brakes on the #LucasLocomotive (Jordan Lucas was only on the field for 12 defensive snaps this week) and continued to roll with Ron Parker despite what seems to be obvious breakdowns. The Chiefs have struggled this season with some deficiencies that ultimately are a blueprint for the league to exploit. Can Sutton make adjustments in personnel and tendencies before it costs the team wins?
Eric Berry: The heart and soul of this team might still be coming in like a super hero to help with a playoff run, but I’m done entertaining that idea. Listen, nobody is a bigger fan of the man and the career of Eric Berry, but the perpetual day-to-day status is becoming as much of a depressing punch line as this stat:
Justin Houston has played in 66% of the games since he signed his big contract. Eric Berry has played 4% (1 game).— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 1, 2018
Others trending in a bearish directions: Demetrius Harris, Frank Zombo, NFL referees
Tyreek Hill: He’s still the most dangerous player in the NFL, but he’s taken a bit of a backseat to Kelce, Watkins and Hunt in recent weeks. No worries, Hill’s next “breakout” game is coming soon, maybe even this week...
Derrick Nnadi and Xavier Williams: It’s hard to give too much credit to the nose tackles on a team that struggles against the run as much as the 2018 Chiefs. But, to my eye, these two don’t share much of the blame either. The lunch-pail defenders up front get push and hold up well at the line of scrimmage, but too often, breakdowns happen behind them. These two have been pretty much as expected, solid and strong but not dynamic.
Anthony Hitchens: Playing through a painful injury this week, Hitchens showed some signs of being the guy the Chiefs expected him to be. He’s still not great in coverage, but he deserves some credit, even if only for toughness.
Others who are who we thought they were: Allen Bailey, Orlando Scandrick, Sammy Watkins