He called it an “annual exercise of idiocy that has no official name,” but on Monday morning, NBC Sports’ Peter King published his annual offseason NFL power rankings in his “Foorball Morning in America” column. And he picked the Kansas City Chiefs to repeat in Super Bowl LV, thereby becoming the first team to do so in 15 years.
One of the big factors this year is how teams come off the challenges of this unconventional offseason. And in the Chiefs’ case, whether they come back to training camp fat and happy. Those things are impossible to tell, but it certainly has happened to some champions. I don’t see it happening to Patrick Mahomes; he respects the game too much. I don’t see it happening to a leader like Tyrann Mathieu on defense. I don’t see it happening with Andy Reid, the coaching lifer. But we’ll see.
Otherwise, where are they challenged? The offensive speed is all back, led by Tyreek Hill. (And that’s good, because slight receivers like Hill and Mecole Hardman are vulnerable to injury.) The added offensive piece, LSU back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, could give Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy an added dimension. Last year, the Chiefs were 23rd in the league in rush yards per game, but the combo platter of Damien Williams and the versatile Edwards-Helaire could be lethal.
King is hardly the first national NFL analyst to say the Chiefs will go all the way this season. But it’s striking how little hyperbole comes with this pick.
He’s among the first to even suggest the Chiefs could do what other teams have done: come into their championship defense “fat and happy,” as he put it. Like others, he saw fit to include the team’s first-round draft pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire in his calculations — but unlike others, says that he “could” give the Chiefs an extra boost, rather than take it as a given.
At this time last season, King ranked the Chiefs on top. He had the Indianapolis Colts third, the Los Angeles Rams fourth and the Los Angeles Chargers fifth. But he also saw the 49ers as the league’s seventh-best team — which at the time, seemed far-fetched to many.