The Kansas City Chiefs came within a defensive stop in overtime of beating the New England Patriots in the AFC title game, the closest they’ve come to reaching the Super Bowl in nearly five decades.
Not surprisingly, expectations among fans are to take that next step.
They are among the Chiefs, too.
’’Last year was a good moment for us,’’ linebacker Reggie Ragland said, ‘’but we strive to get to win the AFC championship this year and go to the Super Bowl, so we have to keep working - keep getting better, keep being physical, keep being tough mentally. So far, we’re doing a good job of it.’’
5) Kansas City Chiefs
Rostered QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Chase Litton, Kyle Shurmur.
Like the Patriots, the Chiefs are here largely by virtue of the star power of the starter. Only one other quarterback in NFL history has ever accomplished what Mahomes did in 2018, throwing for more than 5,000 yards and 50-plus touchdowns in one season -- and Peyton Manning was well into his career when he did it. Mahomes, on the other hand, still has room to grow as he enters his third NFL season. It’s not controversial to suggest there is a step down from Mahomes to, well, anyone else who might play quarterback for Kansas City, should Mahomes have to miss time. Even so, Henne is not chopped liver. If he had to fill in for Mahomes, I think he’d do alright, even though he’s thrown just five passes as a reserve since he last started a game, in 2014. Keep an eye on the competition for the third-string spot between Shurmur, the son of Giants coach Pat Shurmur, and Litton, who has a chance to be something in the long run.
Tyreek Hill, Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
Recent off-field issues in which he was accused of child abuse has complicated things for Hill. Prior to that news breaking, reports suggested that the former late-round pick was in line for a record-breaking contract. Now that the situation seems to be settled without any discipline from the NFL or charges from authorities, Hill might very well earn that pay day. Though, the Chiefs still have to be concerned about previous off-field incidents from college, including domestic violence.
As it is, Hill remains one of the most eye-opening skill-position players in the game. He recorded 87 receptions for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and has earned Pro Bowl honors in each of his first three seasons. Still only 25 years old, Hill’s abilities on the field could lead to a rather large pay day with less guarantee than what he’d have seen prior to this offseason.
Prediction: Five-Year, $100 million with $50 million in total guarantees.
Weaknesses: Defense kept Chiefs from potentially beating Patriots in AFC title game, leading to wholesale rebuild. Spagnuolo has changed scheme from 3-4 to 4-3 base, and GM Brett Veach overhauled roster to better fit system. Mathieu and Clark were pricey acquisitions but give defense sorely missing grit, leadership and playmaking. Question remains: Will it be enough?
Fantasy Players To Watch: Mahomes is only QB worth taking ahead of first dozen RBs and top WRs in most leagues. New weapons and experienced offensive line mean reigning league MVP could produce even gaudier stats than last season.
Vegas Says: Win Super Bowl 8-1. Over/under wins 10 1-2.
Kansas City Chiefs: In theory, it should be a surprise that the Chiefs might burn the $800,000 signing bonus they gave to running back Carlos Hyde by potentially cutting him. But since that possibility was forecast in this space a month ago, the bigger surprise is that I’d rather draft rookie Darwin Thompson in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts than take Chiefs starting running back Damien Williams in the top 40.
Player: Travis Kelce
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Shawn Childs rank: TE1
Kelce keeps getting better, which was helped by the upgrade at the quarterback position last year. Kelce has over 1,000 yards and over 80 catches in each of his previous three seasons, highlighted by his electric year (103/1336/10 on 150 targets) in 2018. Kelce finished with five games over 100 yards receiving (7/109/2, 8/114, 5/100, 10/127/1, and 12/168/2) and eight games with seven catches or more. Last year Kelce was the 15th highest-scoring skill player and created a 100-plus fantasy point edge in PPR leagues over the fifth-highest scoring TE, and more than a 150-point edge over the TEs ranked nine through 12. A special player who will have another great opportunity in 2019. More of the same in 2019, while expecting his most significant growth this season coming in TDs.
The flagship of the collection is “Handcrafted Reserve,” a California cabernet blend, which comes in a deep-etched and hand-painted bottle, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the club’s victory in Super Bowl IV. In addition, Mano’s Wine is also introducing two different commemorative metallic bottles of “Celebration Bubbly,” a sparkling white wine that also pays homage to the club’s Lombardi Trophy moment following the 1969 season.
“At some point you have to move on,” Garoppolo said. “You’re still trying to correct those mistakes and not make the same mistakes twice, but if you just dwell on the past and dwell on that one game, you’re going to get stuck there and have no success going forward. I think it’s good to be hard on yourself, but at some point you have got to move forward.”
Moving forward this week for Garoppolo means a trip on Saturday to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, the same venue in which Garoppolo tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Sept. 23 of last season.
Around the league
As the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders ventured north to Winnipeg to play a Week 3 preseason tilt on Thursday, they decided to play on a shorter field of 80 yards due to safety concerns over field conditions.
An NFL spokesman said in a statement, “Tonight’s game is being played on a reconfigured field. The field met the mandatory practices for the maintenance of surfaces for NFL games based on an inspection yesterday. Concerns arose today surrounding the area where the Blue Bombers’ goal posts were previously located. The 10-yard line will function as the goal line at this game. In lieu of kickoffs, the ball will be placed at the 15-yard line.”
The injury has been characterized as a sprain and X-rays were negative, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source. Newton is scheduled for further tests on Friday.
”He’s in a walking boot, that’s all I can tell you,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said grimly in the postgame press conference, adding he had no further details and had yet to fully talk to trainers.
Newton’s night ended on a third-and-10 play when he was sacked by defensive lineman Adam Butler. Newton’s return saw him complete 4 of 6 passes for 30 yards and most troubling was sacked twice in his three series.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Even given Watkins’ injury history, he did look very impressive during training camp practices. He has talked about a change in his offseason methods — and his belief that it will pay off.
We know that a player is always going to say they feel great during the preseason, but I’m buying in. That means I’m also buying that Hill, Watkins and Kelce can put up the best statistics an NFL receiving trio has registered in the last 20 years.
Here’s how I think it will shake out:
Tyreek Hill: 88 catches, 1,600 yards, 15 touchdowns
Travis Kelce: 95 catches, 1,300 yards, 13 touchdowns
Sammy Watkins: 75 catches, 1,050 yards, 12 touchdowns
That’s 258 catches for 3,950 yards and 40 touchdowns — in each statistic, more than any of the four receiving groups I’ve shown here.
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