Editor’s note: With it seemingly being “prediction week” in the NFL, John’s serving up 10 bold Chiefs predictions for the upcoming season.
1 . The Chiefs will win the AFC West.
The Chiefs will finish the season 10-6. Four of those losses will come in the first eight games, and just two in the last eight. The schedule is tougher in the first half of the season, and the new players — particularly on defense — will need time to gel.
2. Patrick Mahomes will drive us crazy.
He’ll make brilliant plays, and he’ll make boneheaded plays. He’ll do things no other quarterback can do, and he’ll do things every other quarterback already learned not to do. But each time, he’ll learn. Knowing what we knew about him when he was drafted, it was reasonable to think he’d be another Brett Favre. But by the end of this season, we’ll see that was the wrong comparison. Instead, Mahomes will be well on the way to becoming another Alex Smith — except with a howitzer strapped to his shoulder, and terabytes instead of gigabytes. In other words... not just Aaron Rodgers, but better than Aaron Rodgers.
3. At least two Chiefs losses this year will be directly attributable to bad calls.
But whom are we kidding? At least two losses for every NFL team this season will be the result of bad calls. By the end of the season, everybody’s going to be mad at the zebras. It’s not going to be their fault, though. The league keeps adding rules that no one could possibly get right every time.
4. Travis Kelce will have eight passing touchdowns again. But he’ll throw one of them.
It doesn’t matter that the last time Kelce was asked to throw a pass, he threw an interception. Andy Reid isn’t going to be able to resist trying it again — but this time, it’ll work.
5. On the season, the Chiefs defense will hold opponents to a passer rating of 80 or less — as they’ve done in three of the past five seasons — and after every game, there will be complaints about the secondary being awful.
It’s good to remember that in the passing game, the offense always has the advantage. Even excellent pass defenders — and outstanding pass defenses — give up touchdowns. But when that happens, it’s apparently a lot more fun to characterize a particular defensive back as hot garbage. So have at it, folks.
6. By the end of the season, the Chiefs offensive line will be stable from one side to the other.
There’s no particular reason to believe this will be true. But if you predict it every season, it’s bound to be true sooner or later. Hope springs eternal.
7. Sammy Watkins will make a lot of money playing for the Chiefs.
Beyond that, it’s impossible to say what will happen. The range of outcomes is from very good to very bad. No... this isn’t a bold prediction. Sorry.
8. Ben Niemann will be this season’s special teams ace.
Unless Anthony Hitchens or Reggie Ragland miss significant time, he’s not going to get a lot of snaps on defense, which will open the door for Dave Toub to claim him as his own. Niemann is a complete player, and Toub will take advantage of that.
9. The Chiefs will not give up a punt or kickoff return touchdown.
The Chiefs haven’t given up a single kick-return touchdown since Toub became the special teams coach. Much has been said about Toub’s ability to score touchdowns in the kicking game — and fans tend to judge Toub year-to-year based on how many return touchdowns the Chiefs score — but almost no one has noticed how good the Chiefs have been at preventing them. Toub is a remarkable coach with a remarkable record.
10. The Chiefs will win the Super Bowl.
Honestly, this isn’t a very bold prediction. Let’s remember that in 2003 — the year the Chiefs finished 13-3 and held home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, only to be defeated by the Indianapolis Colts in the infamous no-punt game — the Chiefs had the No. 1 scoring offense, and the No. 19 scoring defense. If the defense had been just a little better in 2003, the Chiefs would have been unstoppable in the postseason. By the end of the season — when it will matter the most — it’s entirely possible the Chiefs offense could be that good, and although there are plenty of fans who won’t agree, it’s entirely possible the Chiefs defense could be that good, too.