If the Chargers can avoid further catastrophic injuries and if the coaching staff manages the game in an adroit manner, I think they flirt with the top seed in the conference. Oh yeah, and if their specialists don’t undermine the entire season. Overall, I love the roster, though I’d love it more with Hunter Henry and Jason Verrettoff IR. Every other team in the division is in major transition at the QB or coach spot. If KC had a semblance of a defense I’d buy in, but they don’t and Andy Reid will trail early in a lot of games which means a pass-happy approach with a first-year starting QB. Oakland’s best player is holding out, Jon Gruden is shaking off the rust and Denver’s ability to pass protect and run the football remain under serious scrutiny, while the secondary ain’t what it used to be.
The Status Quo
Don’t expect major changes from any of these hires.
Kansas City Chiefs
OC Eric Bieniemy replaces OC Matt Nagy.
With Nagy off to Chicago, Reid will be taking back play-calling duties for the Chiefs. He’ll get some help on the planning side of things from longtime assistant Eric Bieniemy, who’s been with the team since 2013.
According to an Arrowhead Pride poll, about 65 percent of readers were against the changes. Chiefs fan Curtis Kitchen tweeted: “Let’s take the one iconic thing that sets us apart from every other NFL team and screw it up. #chiefs” Another fan said he won’t even go to the games anymore.
Nelson is slated to move exclusively to corner this season after playing both corner and nickel the past two years. While many of the Chiefs’ starters won’t play in Thursday’s regular-season opener, per coach Andy Reid’s usual procedure, Nelson offered assurances this week that he’d be prepared for the season opener.
The Kansas City Chiefs are loaded on offense, making the decisions by coaches and the front office particularly difficult on this side of the ball.
Mahomes leads Chiefs to great heights
Three predictions from Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB)
1. Sterling Shepard (WR47 ADP) finishes as a WR2 or better because volume be damned, he’s just that good and perfectly placed in the Giants offense.
Brad’s chance of happening: 58%
2. John Brown clears 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 2015 and scores at least eight touchdowns.
Brad’s chance of happening: 61%
3. Under the leadership of Patrick Mahomes and an explosive cast, with a little help from a generous defense, the Kansas City Chiefs finish as the No. 1 offense in total yards and top-seven in points scored.
Brad’s chance of happening: 49%
His mouth has occasionally gotten him into trouble in the past. In 2016, he made headlines when he said he planned to injure then-Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes. (He later apologized).
But Hager said he’s not the same guy anymore, that he realized that much of his brashness was foolhardy.
“I’ve matured exponentially from where I was at,” Hager said. “If you would’ve taken junior Breckyn – pre-Oklahoma State game – you would have had some interesting answers that are absolutely not how I think today.
The Saints have never made this kind of investment in the backup quarterback position during the 13-year Brees-Payton era, although they did come close to drafting Patrick Mahomes in 2017. The Saints are paying a significant price to land Bridgewater, considering they have less than $10 million in salary-cap space and already traded away their 2019 first-round draft choice to move up to pick defensive end Marcus Davenport this year.
Kendricks — who has been charged by federal authorities in an insider trading scheme — was a little shorter than ideal, at 6-foot and 240 pounds. But he was powerful and fast. Though Kendricks excelled in blitzing, coach Andy Reid’s regime envisioned him blanketing opposing tight ends in pass coverage, something that had been a persistent Eagles problem. In 2013, under Chip Kelly, Kendricks totaled four sacks, three interceptions, six quarterback hurries, four fumble recoveries and 137 tackles, and he probably should have made the Pro Bowl.
Running well in the low red zone
There’s usually a lot of focus on the passing game in the red zone. But taking a deeper dive into the numbers shows just how important being able to move the line of scrimmage can be in the red zone, especially from the 10-yard line to the goal line.
Using the wonderful stats provided by SB Nation’s own Bill Connelly, it’s not a coincidence the top five teams in converting in the low red zone (inside the 10) were all teams with excellent run games. New Orleans converted on 55 percent of chances in that area, followed by the Cowboys, Rams, Jaguars, and Chiefs.
AFC Wild Card 1
T-3 Kansas City Chiefs (3 votes: Battista, Grant, Mariucci)
Why Adam Rank chose the Titans: The Titans are one of the most-besmirched returning playoff teams I can remember. Hell, they won a playoff game. (Even though it was against the Chiefs, it’s still a win.) Now they have a coaching staff with an offense that’s actually suited for players in the year 2018. It’s like the first time your family brought home a flat screen -- it may or may not be top of the line, but it is clearly better than that old black-and-white tube TV.
Around the league
The Packers and Rodgers have agreed to terms on a four-year, $134 million extension, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network’s James Jones reported, per a source informed. Rodgers also receives a record $57.5 million signing bonus and will earn more than $80 million by March, Rapoport added. The team later made the deal official.
Rodgers previously signed a five-year, $110 million extension in 2013 and was set to enter the regular season with two years remaining on his contract, which paid base salaries of $19.8 million in 2018 and $20 million in 2020.
Though things may seem grim for the NFL, it’s still far and away the most popular sports league in the United States, and a major money maker. But there are cracks in its foundation, and the perception that the league’s future is in trouble could be a problem in and of itself. If the league wants to continue its dominance, it needs to be proactive about making changes before things come crumbling down.
Kendricks, along with co-defendant Damilare Sonoiki, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of securities fraud, per U.S. Attorney William McSwain.
Kendricks allegedly profited just under $1.2 million by using material non-public information from McSwain, a banker at a global investment firm, to make investments during the period of July 2014 to March 2015. In exchange for the information, Kendricks gave McSwain $10,000 and Eagles tickets, per McSwain.
To preview the frenzied weekend, I’m spotlighting a bunch of notable players whose status could change, dividing them up into three categories: potential trade targets, roster cut candidates and guys whose bubble shouldn’t pop. It’s worth wondering if the trade tsunami that helped define this offseason will have one more wave before Week 1. While it’s never easy to speculate on surprise moves, what’s the harm in trying?
A team source said the league’s business ventures committee agreed to relax league rules prohibiting sportsbook-connected sponsorship during a conference call on Monday. An NFL spokesperson declined comment. Casinos will not be able to promote the sportsbooks directly, but teams will be able to accept advertising from casinos and daily fantasy sites that operate sportsbooks in shoulder programming and during preseason game telecasts.
Lucky for them, we’ve found a way of using numbers that coaches can relate to; stats that break down an NFL team’s relative strengths and weaknesses, and very quickly determine which narratives have basis in fact, and which are a bunch of hooey.
“The prospect of these kids losing their dreams was difficult to hear for everyone in the community,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said, per Raiders.com. “After school athletics are an important part of the high school experience and this donation will keep student-athletes on the playing fields in Oakland.”
With Darnold, it became pretty clear that he was going to start if he was ready, and the Jets clearly felt he was ready after watching him play in three preseason games. At first the Jets slowly eased him into action by letting him come off the bench against the Falcons. After that, Darnold started New York’s next two preseason games against the Redskins and Giants.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Having the starting inside linebackers on the field this week paid dividends for the Chiefs, holding the Bears to 2.64 yards per carry. It’s a step in the right direction for bucking a poor run defense trend over the past two years.
Andy Reid had some great things to say about linebacker Ben Niemann, who has been Pro Football Focus’ second-best graded linebacker of the preseason
Last year, the inside linebacker position was a problem for much of the season, but started seeing some stability as Reggie Ragland got more playing time. This offseason — after losing Derrick Johnson and Kevin Pierre-Louis — the Chiefs brought in former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens to be Ragland’s running mate. filling the weak inside linebacker position Johnson had vacated.
Social Media Information:
AP Facebook Page: Click here to like our page
AP Instagram: Follow @ArrowheadPride
AP Twitter: Follow @ArrowheadPride
AP Editor-in-Chief: Pete Sweeney: Follow @pgsween
610 Sports Twitter: Follow @610SportsKC