The headlines will be all about Le’Veon Bell this week, as he has a real chance to make the New York Jets regret even more of their 2020 season than they probably already do.
It’s been a rough year for this weeks’ opponent, so the Kansas City Chiefs shouldn’t make things any easier. This Kansas City team has shown they can run the ball, score on defense and special teams and come from behind when they have to. Against the Jets, you would ideally like to see them get a big lead early and bury an inferior opponent. But they shouldn’t overlook the Jets, as every team is motivated to give the defending champs their best game.
Here are just a few Chiefs trending upward and downward going into Sunday’s game:
- Frank Clark: As our AP Nerd Squad has noted, it’s been a few weeks since Clark had one of those games where he popped off of the screen. Don’t get it twisted — he’s been doing his job, especially against the run. Teams are starting to learn that it’s futile trying to run to his side. But he’s due for a higher impact game rushing the passer. What better week to rack up some pressures and a sack or two, than against the Jets, who likely will be playing from behind? Watch the matchup between Clark and Mekhi Becton this week: it could be epic.
- Le’Veon Bell: The Chiefs’ newest offensive weapon looked good in his debut, with a pair of 16-yard runs. This week, he should get more opportunities, and he’ll likely have something to prove against his former team. Especially if the Chiefs get out to an early lead, we could see Andy Reid give Bell ample chances to show the Jets were foolish not to value his services.
- Mecole Hardman: After weeks of us hoping Hardman would step into a larger role on offense, he had his best game of the season against Denver. After two big catches, a first-down run and one near miss that would’ve been a long touchdown, it was clear the Chiefs insisted on getting him involved. With Byron Pringle getting more of the kick-return action, perhaps Hardman will be able to put together back-to-back respectable performances and start an upward trajectory?
- Charvarius Ward and Bashaud Breeland: The intended starters at cornerback are finally back on the field at the same time, and things are looking up in the Chiefs secondary. Both guys bring a physical style of play that fits within the Steve Spagnuolo system. Last week, Ward was able to get a sack and led the team in tackles, showing some versatility as well. Both corners should have plenty of success this week against a depleted Jets receiver group.
Others trending in the right direction this week: Willie Gay, Jr, Tyrann Mathieu, Byron Pringle, Tershawn Wharton, Juan Thornhill
- Tanoh Kpassagnon: Kpassagnon had his first sack of the season last week, but he’s not having the breakout season that seemed possible after his 2019 progress. He’s still a massive player who is an important part of the rotation, but he’s not making enough explosive plays or being particularly effective against the run in his contract year.
- Antonio Hamilton and Tedric Thompson: Once seen as filling potentially significant roles while the Chiefs rookies got up to speed, we haven’t seen an impact from either player in recent weeks, and their snap counts seem to be dwindling. Both might be special teams contributors only, like Armani Watts. All three could see the field more this week if the Chiefs blow out the Jets, but that role is likely temporary.
- Darwin Thompson: The Chiefs are still carrying too many running backs, now that Bell seems to be in the mix for the foreseeable future. De’Andre Washington was active last week, and Thompson was not. Even if Thompson gets on the field this week, it’s possible that one or the other won’t be on the roster as the team gets some players back from injury/COVID designtations.
Others trending in the wrong direction: De’Andre Washington, Ben Niemann, Nick Keizer
Value (sleeper) pick: Taco Charlton
The Chiefs need pass rush, and they’ve been thin at the defensive end position. Charlton has been relatively productive in his limited time thus far in 2020, and he’ll likely return to the field after missing last week’s contest. The Jets have exactly one really good player on their offensive line, so if Becton is battling Frank Clark, the opportunities may be there for Charlton to get to Sam Darnold and confirm that there are a number of potential game wreckers in Kansas City.