AFC West champs
1. Kansas City Chiefs (22 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Gbajabiamila, Grant, Hall, Hanzus, Jones-Drew, Mariucci, O’Hara, Patra, Rank, Rosenthal, Schein, Sessler, Trotter)
2. Los Angeles Chargers (4 votes: Casserly, Dameshek, Jones, Thomas)
3. Oakland Raiders (3 votes: Carr, Parr, Reece)
Why Marc Sessler chose the Chiefs: The Chiefs return the entire offensive core, with added weapons in Mecole Hardman and Darwin Thompson. Football heads close to the team believe Patrick Mahomes has grown even more comfortable in the offense. EVEN MORE COMFORTABLE. Fill my belly with bath salts and I’ll pick someone else to win the West.
The Chiefs will be willing to make Mahomes the highest-paid player in the league. The question is by how much. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported in January that Mahomes could land the first $200 million football contract.
“A $200 million contract is certainly feasible,” Jason Fitzgerald, founder of Over the Cap, wrote via email. “The top of the market is already at $35 million a season, and all that means is a six-year deal would easily lead to a $200 million contract.”
Louis Riddick’s top 10 head coaches
2. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs: Reid is a terrific offensive innovator who now has potentially the best young quarterback to come into the NFL maybe ever.
2) Do the Chiefs have enough on defense?
It’s best to wait and see on this one. On one hand, the Chiefs have made significant changes. They hired Steve Spagnuolo to replace Bob Sutton as defensive coordinator. They switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 as their base defense. They also have seven new starters compared to Week 1 from last season, based on the depth chart posted to the team website. What all this means is that there is new energy and optimism surrounding a unit that ranked 31st in the league last season and deserves the most blame for Kansas City losing to New England in the AFC Championship Game.
The Chiefs are hoping that new defensive end Frank Clark brings a vital intensity up front while new safety Tyrann Mathieu offers critical leadership on the back end. There are still major question marks at linebacker and cornerback, but Kansas City also doesn’t need a top-10 defense to succeed. If that unit can just avoid the major issues of the past -- shoddy tackling, lousy coverage and back-breaking mental errors -- the Chiefs should ride the league’s best offense to the Super Bowl.
RUNNING BACK (3): Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson, Darrel Williams
The Chiefs are living dangerously if they go with fewer than four but that appears the way they’re headed. Carlos Hyde didn’t play in the third exhibition game until the third quarter, long after the starters were gone. They’ve needed the depth in previous years and often left themselves short. Damien Williams has yet to prove he can be a featured back over a long season.
Kansas City Chiefs: Cornerback
Landing Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade (swindle?) with the Skins was brilliant, but I’m not sure Bashaud Breeland, another ex-Skin, is going to hold up on the other side. Adding Mo Claiborne is a nod toward addressing this concern, I guess, but I figure teams will put them in nickel and dime a ton and unless this pass rush is top 10 this could be an area that screams out for a trade between now and the deadline.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiver corps might be the fastest the NFL has ever seen, with new addition and former college sprinter De’Anthony Thomas saying that he felt slow when he joined the squad. They’re so fast that some are already dubbing them the “Legion of Zoom.”
That got us thinking, considering the nickname itself is a reference to the Seahawks’ imposing “Legion of Boom” secondary of the mid-2010s. That nickname was an all-time great -- partially due to how cool it sounds, but also because Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and company made it stick. Will the Chiefs’ receivers cement “Legion of Zoom” as a legendary nickname? Let’s go down the list to see what they’re up against.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Barring a last-minute injury, it appears the Chiefs will release Hyde after handing him an $800,000 signing bonus in the offseason
Two-time All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce was spectacular as well, setting career highs in catches (103), yards receiving (1,336) and touchdowns (10) last season.
The 25-year-old Kittle keeps track of peers on his iPad, studying every move made by most of the starting tight ends. He takes a particularly close look at how the 29-year-old Kelce and 28-year-old Ertz are perhaps the best in the business at the position.
“I just try to pull stuff from them,” Kittle said. “Ertz and Kelce are two of the top guys in the league, so if I can learn something from them, I can get to that level, too.”
“We want to thank all of the new and returning partners that we have this season,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said. “The local business community and the national sponsorship landscape have taken an incredible interest in what we’re building here in Kansas City. We look forward to expanding on our current relationships while developing new and exciting partnerships with all of these companies throughout 2019 and beyond.”
“We have worked hard on our partnership program over the years and feel like we have created an environment that allows for unique opportunities and mutually beneficial relationships to thrive,” Chiefs Vice President of Partnerships and Premium Sales Kim Hobbs said. “This announcement is a culmination of a lot of effort and attention to detail across both our sales and activation teams and we, along with our partners, are looking forward to the upcoming season.”
These are the guys who will get most of the targets for their real-life teams and your fantasy football teams. There aren’t many of them, but if you are drafting in the mid-to-late first round, there is a good shot you will be able to get at least one of these guys on your team.
• DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
• Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
• Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
• Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
• Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
• Odell Beckham, Jr., Cleveland Browns
• JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
Around the league
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Texans pass rusher, who has yet to sign his franchise tag, is willing to miss regular-season games as he awaits a resolution to his contract situation.
”This one could go into the regular season,” Garafolo said on NFL Total Access on Wednesday. “I know a lot of people are looking at this, saying is Jadeveon Clowney really going to punt on $1 million per week and sit out a game, two, three or whatever? Yeah, at least according to what he has told other people.”
Approximately 60 percent of the Dolphins roster
Miami’s in the midst of a rebuild, leaving their depth chart in a greater state of flux than anyone else in the league. We’ve already seen general manager Chris Grier be proactive with his decisions. He cut presumptive starters like McDonald, Akeem Spence, and Jordan Mills between his third and fourth preseason game, leaving a handful of empty lockers waiting to be filled by rising prospects. With the team focused on youth, almost every tenured and semi-expensive option on the roster is vulnerable.
Based on a combination of potential, production, and dead cap space investment, only about 15 players are rock-solid locks to make the Dolphins’ roster in 2019. That includes building blocks like Xavien Howard, Reshad Jones, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Christian Wilkins alongside role-filling veterans like Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
By 3 p.m. (Arrowhead Time) this Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs — and 31 other NFL teams — will have trimmed their 90-man rosters down to 53 players. Over 1,100 professional football players will suddenly find themselves out of work.
A few will sign with other teams within hours or days — but when that happens, they will displace other players who had just breathed a sigh of relief at making their team’s “final” roster. About a third of the youngest players will eventually be signed to an NFL practice squad, where their dreams will continue.
But for most, Saturday will be the end of their time in the NFL. For some, it will mark the end of a career that spanned years; for others, it will be the cruel end of a dream that seemed so close to fruition just a few months ago. Some will have the satisfaction of knowing that there was at least a time they could make the grade; others will eventually understand that it was never even possible.
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