Last week, we wondered if the Kansas City Chiefs were in a bear market after two straight home losses. They bounced back with a dominating performance in Denver, albeit at great cost. Was this the start of the new bull market? Often, there’s a big spike up right after the lows of a previous cycle.
Unfortunately, there are significant headwinds that might make closing the second quarter very challenging. There’s a big difference in this team with a healthy Patrick Mahomes and without. We’ll see how much difference in prime time against a very good Green Bay team.
This week’s Bulls
- Derrick Nnadi; His stock has been among the most volatile on the team this season, but he was borderline dominant against Denver. We need to see more consistent performance out of the big guy, and this would be a great week to see it.
- Anthony Hitchens: Now that is what we hoped to see from Hitchens. His performance against the Broncos showed aggression, instincts and ability to make plays in the backfield. Has he turned the corner?
- Reggie Ragland: One could make the case that No. 59 was the best defensive player on the field last week. Used as a pass rusher, SAM and even lined up on the defensive interior, Ragland was a force. The Chiefs need to keep finding ways for the so-called “dynamic duo” to keep attacking downhill. Good things happen when players are put in the position to do what they do best.
- Rashad Fenton: The long-awaited but little-anticipated debut of the Chiefs rookie cornerback came last week, and he actually looked like a guy who can contribute. He’ll get a chance to prove that his rally has legs this week as the team takes the field without their starting slot cornerback.
- Matt Moore: Speaking of guys with something to prove, the guy we hoped wouldn’t have to play after being signed off of the street is now taking over the helm of the league’s best offense for a couple of critical games. Is Moore’s stock one that has been undervalued but can pay dividends? If he can take care of the football and give the Chiefs playmakers a shot to run in space, he’ll do just fine.
- Frank Clark: Clark is a riser this week, if only in perception because his production finally matched his compensation. He’s been a very solid player, shutting down the run to his side all season, but it was awesome to see the pass rush success we expected. Sidelined by a mysterious neck injury, we might be reminded again of his value in a different way this week.
This week’s Bears
- Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: We’ve been worried about the interior offensive line of the Chiefs, with a first-year starter at center and an injured left guard. But we’re also seeing subpar performance from the right guard position as well, especially considering his contract. Perhaps he’s playing through something injury-related as well?
- Damien Williams: It’s now quite clear that the team’s best running back is not the guy at the top of the depth chart. LeSean McCoy has outperformed Williams by most any measure this season. Williams is still a dangerous pass-catcher but hasn’t been able to make much progress on the ground. He’s not the type to create something that isn’t there, which the Chiefs need more than ever given the struggles and injuries along the offensive line.
- Darron Lee: The Chiefs made some adjustments last week in their linebacker rotation, and it made all the difference, as you can see from the bulls list. Lee’s snaps plummeted in favor of the run-stopping and pass-rushing backers. We’ll see if it was game-plan specific or something closer to a benching for Lee.
Other observations and predictions this week
- Last week marked a massive shift up from the bottom of the roster. Contributions from guys like Fenton, Moore, Khalen Saunders and Stefen Wisniewski were a welcome surprise. Each will be counted upon this week to show it wasn’t a fluke.
- The team is dealing with a massive number of significant injuries. The only way they can beat Green Bay is with a brilliant game plan executed in unexpected ways. Look for Spagnuolo’s adjustments to continue and for Reid to call a game-specific to Moore’s strengths.
- That game plan should include healthy doses of Hill and McCoy running the football. The offense has to find ways to make it easier for Moore and the offensive line. The most obvious answers are put the ball in the hands of guys who can make plays on the ground.
- The trade deadline is coming up this week. It’s looking like there won’t be a splash move for the team to make. For many reasons, Janoris Jenkins feels like a guy to watch. The elite cornerback market has dried up, but there are enough connections with the Giants cornerback and enough desire for the team to upgrade the spot. Given the apparent development of the bottom of the roster and the contributions of the rookie class, it’s possible that the team isn’t that desperate to make a move.
- Watch Sammy Watkins again this week. He’s finally healthy, but can he stay that way? The team needs him to be at full strength when Mahomes returns for the stretch run. But, he can also be a guy who helps carry the offense in the absence of the MVP. He could have a big week on Sunday night to show his value to the organization. He’s been trending the wrong way on our charts, to the point where his contract is becoming more of a concern. But, Watkins could be a classic growth stock... one that you still buy even if it appears overpriced.
If you want a complete look behind the curtain, here’s a link to the full Market Movers database.