14) Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs | Week 8, Oct. 27 (Sunday night): The marquee quarterback matchup of the season: Rodgers vs. Mahomes.
15) New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles | Week 11, Nov. 17: A Super Bowl rematch, and perhaps a preview.
16) Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots | Week 14, Dec. 8: Home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs could hang in the balance.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Who wouldn’t be excited to see Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes back in action? The Texas Tech product was absolutely electric as a first-year starter in 2018, passing for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns.
We can’t wait to see what he does for an encore.
Sure, Mahomes’ production may fall back to earth just a bit as defenses focus more on stopping him. But even if he only throws for 4,500 yards and 40 touchdowns, he’s still going to combine the improvisational skills of vintage Brett Favre with the touch and accuracy of a major league pitcher.
Yeah, he’s going to remain fun to watch. And if Mahomes is actually better? Watch out.
It’s not like he doesn’t have the weapons. With guys like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Darwin Thompson and now LeSean McCoy, Mahomes will have the tools at his disposal to again slice and dice opposing defenses with the best of them.
“We expect to score every single time we’re on the field,” said Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who last year led an offense that scored 565 points, the third-highest total in NFL history. “We plan to go out there, have positive gains and get the ball in the end zone or let [place-kicker Harrison] Butker kick it in.”
Mahomes and the Chiefs have plenty of reasons to be optimistic, mainly because the signal-caller -- the reigning NFL MVP -- and all the other significant parts are back.
So what could go wrong? Well, for starters, they could lose Mahomes to a season-ending injury in their opener, just as the New England Patriots lost Tom Brady to a knee injury in their first game of 2008, one year after scoring 589 points, second on the NFL’s all-time list. The Pats’ offensive production dropped 30% in 2008 with Matt Cassel at quarterback instead.
Storyline to follow: While it will be engrossing to see if the offense - and in particular Mahomes - can sustain the same pace or whether they are due for a regression, the results of the Chiefs’ sweeping defensive changes could really make the difference between another deep but ultimately flawed playoff run and potential Super Bowl victory.
Can new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo succeed where predecessor Bob Sutton could not?
Toughest stretch: A three-game run in October should prove to be a minefield for the Chiefs. They start in Week 6 with what promises to be a physical game against the Texans at Arrowhead Stadium. What follows is a short week and a Thursday night game against the Broncos in Denver. The Chiefs have lost their past three short-week Thursday night road games and four of their past five overall. The stretch finishes with a Sunday night game against the Packers at Arrowhead. The Chiefs need to emerge with at least two wins in the three games.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: CB A.J. Terrell, Clemson
The Chiefs offense is superbly talented with the offensive line locked up and a host of skill players few teams can compete with. What the team doesn’t have is much talent in the secondary, especially at cornerback.
If general manager Brett Veach holds on to his 2020 first-rounder, expect the pick to address coverage help to pair with safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill. The acquisition of Kendall Fuller has been solid but not an immediate help with journeymen Breshaud Breeland and Morris Claiborne acting as Band-Aids at the position. Investing a priority draft pick in the cornerback position is a must for Veach in 2020.
“Chiefs Kingdom continues to deliver incredible support for Red Friday and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City each and every year,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said. “The entire organization, including the players, coaches and staff, can feel the excitement and energy around the city and the entire Kingdom. This year’s Red Friday will be a great way to kick off what will be a special 60th season of Chiefs football.”
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is still the top fantasy quarterback heading into Week 1. For Week 1, however, he isn’t the top dog. He’ll be on the road against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that is still quite good—it allowed an average of just 311.4 yards per game last season.
Mahomes is still worth the start, unlike Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers will also be on the road, against a brutal Chicago Bears defense (just 17.7 points per game allowed last season) and playing his first game in Matt LaFleur’s offense. Rodgers is not a top-10 quarterback for Week 1.
Around the league
26. Oakland Raiders
Worst-Case Scenario: If Carr struggles and the offense lags, this season could be yet another disaster in Oakland. This defense still has a long way to go. The Raiders used this year’s fourth overall pick on Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell, and they’ll lean on the rookie in a big way this season. Arden Key, the team’s 2018 third-round pick, could take a step forward in his second season, but this team is desperately hurting for pass rushers.
Indianapolis agreed to terms with recently anointed starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett on a two-year contract worth $30 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source. Brissett will earn $20 million guaranteed at signing, Rapoport added.
Brissett was entering the fourth and final year of his rookie deal, set to earn $2 million in 2019. With the new deal, Brissett is under contact through the 2020 season.
News of Brissett’s deal came less than three hours after the Colts inked journeyman signal-caller (and fellow Tom Brady understudy) Brian Hoyer to a three-year, $12 million contract.
Bold prediction: Alvin Kamara catches 100 passes
Don’t expect a major increase in Kamara’s workload now that Mark Ingram is gone. Coach Sean Payton has made it clear he likes Kamara’s “pitch count” around 65-70 percent of the snaps, which is why the Saints signed veteran RB Latavius Murray. However, Kamara is vital to the passing game, and his 81 catches in both 2017 and 2018 are a floor. (He hit that total as a rookie even when Ingram caught 58 balls. And last year he sat out Week 17). Plus, the Saints have rarely played from behind in Kamara’s career. He would feast on catches if they get into hurry-up fourth-quarter situations. -- Triplett
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”My last two years at Buffalo, I’ve had so many trade requests,” he said. “My agent would be on the phone, ‘Hey, we’ve got a trade request.’ Back and forth. Rumors every year. I thought it would be with coach Reid, this was when (Kareem) Hunt was gone and just left, and then it was the Eagles. I said, ‘OK, I’m going home somewhere. If it is back home in Philadelphia or back home with Big Red, it is going to happen.’
“We have always stayed in touch. We always have been friends, from his wife to his kids, and then everybody back in Philadelphia. I knew it would be one of those two. My agent, Drew Rosenhaus, he kind of figured that himself. It worked out.”
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