It makes sense, you know. After all, Mahomes produced video game numbers in 2018, tallying over 5,000 yards passing and 50 touchdowns on the way to becoming the NFL’s youngest MVP in 35 years. And Mahomes was also announced as the coverman for this year’s game, which would justify the addition of a few of Mahomes’ trademark moves to the game.
But when the “Madden” team decided to unveil “X-factor” player traits as this year’s “New Feature Designed to Entice People Into Buying the Game,” Mahomes also became a mortal lock to not only be the game’s highest-rated quarterback (even greater than the G.O.A.T. in real life, Tom Brady) but also someone capable of performing the type of video game feats fans of the game haven’t seen in years.
Despite being the sixth seed in the AFC last season and having to rip-off nine wins in their final ten games to reach the playoffs, the Colts are one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL. Seeing them take on last years’ fist seed Kansas City Chiefs and reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes will be a huge test for how high their ceiling is in 2019.
One particular part of the Chiefs front seven that will be key to watch in this matchup, as well as throughout the season is the linebackers. Anthony Hitchens was signed as a free agent heading into last year. While he improved some throughout the season, Hitchens’ 2018 campaign was disappointing. He missed more tackles than he had in previous years with Dallas, and struggled to consistently fill his gaps. The same can be said about Reggie Ragland, too. This new look defense is exciting and the scheme change seems ultra aggressive. But, it may take time for an entire new defensive personnel to gel early in the season. However, both linebackers may be better suited for gap assignments and running downhill in this regime.
How will the Kansas City Chiefs adjust if Tyreek Hill is suspended?
It remains unclear whether — and for how long — Hill will be suspended by the NFL following a law enforcement investigation into suspicions of child abuse. While the on-field ramifications pale in comparison to the severity of the allegations, Hill’s absence would have a significant impact on the Chiefs’ offense.
It was already unrealistic to expect quarterback Patrick Mahomes to match last year’s total of 50 touchdowns, given that when Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady produced 50-plus-touchdown seasons, they dropped into the 30s the next year. Hill, the team’s top playmaker, opens things up for Mahomes and Coach Andy Reid, and while the Chiefs traded up to draft Mecole Hardman in the second round as a potential Hill replacement, it’s unlikely he can make an immediate impact anywhere close to what Hill provides.
Despite the Chiefs’ aggressiveness in acquiring edge rusher Frank Clark, safety Tyrann Mathieu and others, they are still challenged enough on defense that the offense might again need to score more than 30 points per game.
If you look at the 2019 projections for Ertz, you’ll see we’re expecting him to regress toward his career averages. Specifically, we have him projected for 91 receptions, 976 yards and seven touchdowns.
But even though we’re projecting Ertz to take a step back this year, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t think you should draft him.
After all, he’s likely to be a top producer at a position plagued by inconsistency and scarcity.
Along with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, Ertz is one of “The Big 3” — and it’s a little painful to finish a fantasy draft if one of these guys is not on your roster
Wide Receiver: Demarcus Robinson vs. Mecole Hardman
Now that Chris Conley is in Jacksonville and attempting to revive his career with incoming quarterback Nick Foles, the Kansas City Chiefs No. 2 wide receiver spot for potentially the first four games of the 2019 season (Tyreek Hill’s situation leaves his status entirely up in the air) is essentially a two-way race between Demarcus Robinson and rookie Mecole Hardman.
Williams leaves something to be desired in his physicality, but he’s not shy about contact in the least. It’s just that most of his success came when he bounced it outside or caught a pass. Inside running plays rarely led to long gains. And while he has the heart to pass block, he was rarely asked to do it, frequently running a route on passing plays.
The Chiefs worked around these minor deficiencies last year and they had an amazing rushing presence because of it. The hope is that those few shortcomings don’t come back to unravel a potential monster season for Williams.
Raiders vs. Chiefs
Defensive line: The Chiefs made some changes in the offseason, bringing in new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo while cutting Justin Houston and trading edge rusher Dee Ford to the 49ers. They also acquired Frank Clark from the Seattle Seahawks.
KC is transitioning from a 3-4 base to a 4-3 and as such could have some growing pains. Only Clark and nose tackle Chris Jones are locks to make the roster in camp.
The Raider’s defensive line has issues of its own, but another year for Maurice Hurst, PJ Hall and Arden Key should buoy Oakland’s unit and Ferrell hopefully will provide instant impact off the edge. Don’t sleep on Eddie Vanderdoes who returns after missing the entire 2018 season while recovering from a torn ACL. Edge: Raiders
And while it’s a heavy lift to essentially move the Chiefs’ practice facility 60 miles to the north, the work is well worth it for the Chiefs’ equipment staff.
“At the end of the day, even though I’ve been here for 37 years, I’m just a fan like anybody else. I’m the same as somebody who’s sitting up in the stands. I feel the excitement in this city and I want to win a Super Bowl just like the guy in section 325” Wright said. “When we start moving this stuff up there, it’s like Christmas for us.”
Around the league
It’s called the Bell Effect around the NFL, and it’s making teams nervous. It also has two of the game’s premier running backs threatening to hold out of training camp.
Last year, then-Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell sat out the entire season over his desire to get a new contract and not be tied to the franchise tag Pittsburgh had offered him. The Steelers allowed him to become a free agent this offseason, and he signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the New York Jets in March.
The Broncos are the first team to have all their players in house due to the early date of their first preseason test: the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 1. Denver’s opponents in that preseason opener, the Atlanta Falcons, open camp to rookies on Thursday and veterans on Sunday.
Signed in 2011, the current CBA is set to expire after the 2020 campaign, but both the NFL and NFLPA have previously expressed an eagerness to strike a deal before the start of the 2019 season.
That optimism changed after this most recent meeting. Sources told Garafolo that it is “extremely unlikely” that a new CBA will be agreed upon before Week 1 and that goal is not something the league is pushing hard to achieve.
”Everyone would like to get this done earlier rather than later,” Garafolo said on Total Access on Wednesday, “but everyone wants to do the right deal not just the quick deal.”
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Reid’s former Chiefs offensive coordinator — Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson — is listed right behind Reid at fifth. Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears — another former Chiefs coordinator — is listed 14th. Between those two are former Reid assistant coaches John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens (seventh) and Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers (13th).
While Reid himself hasn’t yet won a championship, those four former Reid assistants are not only in the top half of the league (even by Harrison’s calculation) but have a pair of Super Bowl wins among them. Few coaches can lay claim to that.
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Never has a particular set of sports fans been as excited about a computer game quite like the Chiefs Kingdom are excited for Madden 20. If the cover boy is as good on the game as people are saying, then we have to consider the Chiefs the favourites (sorry... favorites. I’ll have to get used to that one) for the Super Bowl in both reality and the virtual world.
We’ve all pre-ordered it, right?