Hopkins isn’t the only receiver who dictates coverage to allow others to feast, but he is the biggest receiving threat right now. Below are two other players who are potent coverage dictators at their respective positions
Travis Kelce, Chiefs tight end: To no one’s surprise, Andy Reid lines Kelce up all over the place, but Kelce often begins games lining up in a normal tight end set (in the slot or next to the tackle), to see which defender is lining up across from him. Once man or zone coverage is declared, Kelce will demand defenders no matter how he’s used, whether they’re trying to jam him at the line of scrimmage or he’s drawing safety help. Either way, Kelce’s ability as a physical pass-catcher opens the field for the rest of Patrick Mahomes’ weapons.
Now, it has examined the latest Week 6 NFL odds and lines, simulated every snap, and its football predictions are in. One of the top Week 6 NFL predictions the model recommends: the Chiefs (-5.5) cover against the Texans in a 1 p.m. ET kickoff from Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs were stunned by another AFC South squad, the Colts, in Week 5. But the model has taken into account that the Texans are ranked just 25th in the NFL in pass defense (270.4 yards per game). They’ll get their toughest test yet against Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has thrown for an NFL-best 1,831 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. The model is calling for another 300-yard day for Mahomes as the Chiefs cover in well over 50 percent of simulations. The under (55.5) also hits more than 60 percent of the time.
Even though Houston had nine of Kansas City’s NFL-high 52 sacks in his eighth year with the team, the Chiefs released him in a move that saved $14 million in salary cap space.
While Houston went on to sign a two-year, $24 million contract with $18.5 million guaranteed with the Colts, Kansas City used some of the freed up cap money to sign safety Tyrann Mathieu, who is the highest-paid NFL safety (along with Washington Redskins strong safety Landon Collins) with a yearly average of $14 million, and Frank Clark, who has a five-year, $104 million contract, which includes $62.3 million guaranteed.
Mathieu and Clark’s combined cap hit for 2019 is about $13 million.
Eric Bieniemy, Offensive Coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs
Bieniemy is the latest Chiefs coordinator hyped to be a prime coaching prospect. Bieniemy, 50, is a longtime running backs coach who worked with Adrian Peterson from 2007 to 2009 in Minnesota, joined Andy Reid when he came to Kansas City in 2013 and helped make Jamaal Charles an All-Pro, and then served as Chiefs offensive coordinator for the past two seasons. Some will knock Bieniemy because he neither calls plays (that’s Reid’s job) nor works directly with the QB (that’s quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka) in Kansas City. But neither did Doug Pederson nor Matt Nagy, two of the past three offensive coordinators who served under Reid, and Pederson has already won a Super Bowl with Philadelphia while Nagy won Coach of the Year in his first year in Chicago. Bieniemy has been at the foot of the league’s most nimble and adaptive offensive schemer for seven years.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid responded to questions about the play-call late Sunday. Why not put the ball in the hands of the league’s MVP? A day later, Reid brought up the topic before a question was even presented.
“That was a play that we all felt good about,” he said. “We were one block away from taking care of business there on that. You learn from that.”
The Chiefs are coming off their least impressive offensive performance of the year, but they’ve been productive without Hill in other weeks and Reid rejected the suggestion that the wideout’s absence was responsible for the sluggish outing.
“He’s not causing penalties on the sideline,” Reid said. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot, and like I told the guys, you figure it out and we get this thing straightened out, we’ll be right, a powerful, explosive offense whoever is in there.”
Overall, Mahomes went 8 of 9 for 115 yards with a TD vs. zone coverage compared to 12 of 28 for 186 yards facing man coverage. All four of the Colts’ sacks came when they were playing man coverage, and the Colts allowed less than half the yards per dropback in man (5.1) than they did in zone (11.9), according to PFF. The Colts’ switch to a man-heavy scheme also forced Mahomes to throw into tight windows at a much higher rate than we expected heading into the game, with a 17.9% tight-window-throw percentage (fifth-highest in a game in his career), per Next Gen Stats.
Houston (3-2) at Kansas City (4-1)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Chiefs -5.5
While Houston exploded for 53 points in Sunday’s win over Atlanta, the Chiefs’ offense scored just 13 points points in Sunday night’s loss to the visiting Indianapolis Colts. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense will surely be motivated to light up the scoreboard, but I’m riding the hot hand and going with Deshaun Watson (426 passing yards, five touchdowns against the Falcons) and the Texans to pull off the upset at Arrowhead. Kansas City’s 30th ranked run defense is another reason why I’m going with Houston.
The pick: Texans 35, Chiefs 31
Around the league
The former Patriots tight end has been hired as an analyst for FOX NFL Sunday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported. FOX announced Gronkowski will begin this Thursday on the pregame show for Patriots-Giants, alongside Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Michael Strahan and Tony Gonzalez.
Gronk will eventually be inducted in Canton himself, a development that might only be delayed by a return to the game.
Tom Brady told reporters he expects to see “hard-hitting analysis” from Gronk when informed of his former teammate’s new job.
”He’ll be good,” Brady said. “He’s been good at everything he’s done. I didn’t know that, that’s good for him. Good opportunity.”
Darnold, speaking Monday afternoon in his weekly radio spot on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York, said: “I feel good. Energy is awesome. Just looking forward to playing this week, but have to wait for doctor’s orders.”
His return should provide an emotional boost for the reeling Jets (0-4), who have scored only two touchdowns on offense. The tension in the locker room prompted a players-only meeting on Monday. Players said they called the meeting in an attempt to remain unified.
1. Christian McCaffrey, who stole the souls of Jacksonville’s linebacking corps
McCaffrey is making a legitimate case to be the league’s first non-quarterback MVP since 2012. The Panthers’ do-it-all tailback turned the Jaguars’ linebackers tasked with covering him into a teal-tinted mist en route to 237 total yards and three touchdowns in a 34-27 win. Most importantly — and extremely embarrassingly for the Jags — he did it all while running pretty much the same running play over and over again.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
So some will argue that in a situation like Sunday’s game, the Colts were simply trying to limit the total number of possessions. The Chiefs would be like Steph Curry — an offense more likely to score points. The Colts would be like you — less likely to score with each opportunity. You decide to force fewer total chances, which (you think) means you have a better chance to win.
And in a teeny-tiny way, you do..
Here’s the problem: NFL teams typically get 9-13 possessions per game; we aren’t dealing with the difference between 100 shots and just one. Through four weeks, the Chiefs averaged 10.25 drives per game, so reducing that number by 0.25 just doesn’t make a significant difference.
“Respect the game,” Sherman added, referencing Mayfield. “You can have rivals, but pay your respect in that moment — especially when you’re young. He hasn’t earned anything in this league. How many games has he won? He’s acting like he was the MVP last year. If Mahomes did that, it would be one thing. But he would never do that, because he has too much respect for the game.
”And when you see a guy who doesn’t? You humble him every chance you get. Because eventually, he will have respect for the league — or he’ll be out of it.”
Follow Arrowhead Pride on Social Media
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