AFC West champs
1. Kansas City Chiefs (25 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Carr, Casserly, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Gbajabiamila, Hall, Hanzus, Jones, McGinest, Parr, Patra, Rank, Robinson, Rosenthal, Smith, Thomas, Tomlinson, Trotter)
Why David Carr chose the Chiefs: Well, to put it simply, the Chiefs almost beat Green Bay without their MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes and two of their best defensive players (Chris Jones and Frank Clark). Andy Reid is so good at adapting his game plan, and he knows the best way to utilize his greatest players. With the defense improving under coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the Chiefs aren’t giving up their division lead.
Adjusted Net Yards Per Pass Attempt
Current record holder: Peyton Manning (9.78, 2004)
2019 contender: Patrick Mahomes (9.51)
Even before an ankle injury sapped much of his playmaking abilities and a knee injury sidelined him for Week 8’s game against the Packers, Mahomes hasn’t looked quite as special this season as he did in 2018. His touchdown rate has fallen from “oh my god” levels (8.6 percent) to a still very good mark (6.2). And after beginning 2018 on a 9-1 tear, the Chiefs dropped two of their first six games this season. But that doesn’t mean Mahomes as a whole has regressed. In fact, he’s gotten better.
Kansas City Chiefs: 5-3
Best Rookie: Mecole Hardman
When Kansas City drafted Hardman, most saw him as Tyreek Hill’s replacement. After all, Hill was mired in a domestic violence case that was expected to be the end of his Chief’s tenure. Instead, Hardman has simply been another dynamic toy for Andy Reid to scheme with. He’s on pace to finish with 40 catches for 748 yards and eight touchdowns on the season as the fourth option in the Chiefs offense.
2. A football game or a track meet?
Everyone has documented the speed threat of Tyreek Hill, who is nicknamed “The Cheetah” and has a propensity for long touchdowns. Hill isn’t the only Chiefs player with fleet feet, however. According to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats, a pair of teammates have recorded two of the 20 fastest speeds by a ball carrier this season. Rookie Mecole Hardman was clocked at 21.74 miles per hour on an 83-yard touchdown in Week 3 against Baltimore, and Sammy Watkins topped out at 21.33 mph on a 68-yard touchdown in Week 1 at Jacksonville. Hardman’s time ranks seventh, and Watkins’ speed is 14th so far in 2019. Diggs is on the list as well, via his 66-yard touchdown reception at Detroit during which he was clocked at 21.19 mph.
Mahomes Poised to Make Early Return
The reigning NFL MVP saw his season put at risk by a gruesome looking knee injury suffered in Kansas City’s 30-6 win in Denver in Week 7.
Initially expected to be on the shelf for at least three weeks, Mahomes’ NFL MVP odds tumbled to a season-worst +1200 ahead of last weekend’s 31-24 loss to the visiting Green Bay Packers, well back of the short -120 odds he sported in the wake of the Chiefs’ 34-30 win in Detroit in Week 4.
A limited participant last week, Mahomes was expected to return to practice with the Chiefs. However, with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid publicly stating his intention not to rush the 24-year-old back into action, a final decision on Mahomes’ status for Sunday will likely not be known until later in the week.
The game will be broadcast in part or all of 38 states, including much of the upper Midwest.
Oddly, there is a portion of northeast Missouri that will be shown the Bears-Eagles game instead of the Chiefs.
Around the league
The Chargers’ offense is hurtling toward a full-scale rebuild
Ken Whisenhunt was fired by the Chargers from his position as offensive coordinator after a 17-16 win over the Bears. Through the first eight games of the year, the Chargers are scoring 19.6 points per game. That ranks 23rd in the NFL and is a full touchdown behind their 2018 average of 26.8 points.
The hope is that a coaching change fixes things. The Chargers better pray it does, because the whole offense may need to go in the trash if it doesn’t work.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his standout evening in Green Bay’s 31-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Jones racked up a career-high 226 yards from scrimmage (159 receiving, 67 rushing), adding two TD catches. His 67-yard catch-and-run score in the fourth quarter sealed the victory for Green Bay. This is Jones’ second OPOW honor in four weeks; he earned his first ever in Week 5 after scored four TDs against the Dallas Cowboys.
”We’ll see how good they are once we play them,” Baltimore tight end Nick Boyle said. “I don’t think they’ve seen anyone like our offense or like Lamar [Jackson]. They’re a good team and we’ll need to bring our ‘A’ game.”
Though he said he’d prefer the team would let him go rather than use the franchise tag, he’s also made it clear throughout the season that he wants to remain with the Bengals.
”I’m not going to be a guy that says, ‘Oh I want to get traded’ and then go to a situation where I’m not happy,” Green said. “Like, I’m genuinely happy here. We might not win, but I’m happy here. But at the end of the day, this is a business. I know my worth and I know what I bring to this team.”
DEFCON 4: Danger is present
9. Matt Nagy - Bears
This isn’t supposed to be happening in Chicago in 2019, but here we are discussing the reality of Nagy’s poor decision-making that’s put the Bears in a problematic spot going forward. Easily capable of being the most dominant defense in the NFL, as it was a season ago, the Bears can’t get out of their own way -- mostly due to the ineptitude of the offense. Look no further than the inconsistent and underwhelming play of former second-overall pick Mitch Trubisky, who has a 3-3 record in the six games he’s played this season, while having thrown for only 1,092 yards and five touchdowns to three interceptions.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
As much as Arrowhead Stadium feels like a big advantage and a tough obstacle for the opponent to overcome, the Chiefs have 15 regular-season home losses since 2013. That is 44% of their total losses in that span — meaning they have almost lost as many games at home as they have on the road. They are 1-7 in postseason home games since 1995. Each game was different, but there is a trend among these contests. The better quarterback won most of the time.
SB Nation’s Fan Pulse (after Week 8)
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