First the good news: they have Patrick Mahomes. Sure, this is a list of depth charts, but that is a very good starting place. They also have weapons all over their offense, and when you look at players such as Mecole Hardman and Sammy Watkins as your third and fourth receivers, that shows the depth you have at that position. They can even trot out Anthony Sherman, one of the game’s best fullbacks. Plus, they drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a perfect fit in their offense, along with Damien Williams and Darwin Thompson.
They also have depth up front on defense, with players like Mike Pennell, Tanoh Kpassagnon and Khalen Saunders forming a formidable second unit on the defensive line. Depth at linebacker was a question but the addition of Willie Gay Jr., who lit up the Combine with his performance, is a certain boost.
5. Mitchell Schwartz, Chiefs
This past season was really just a great year for right tackle play in general and Mitchell Schwartz is firmly in the conversation as one of the best in the league. Even before his fantastic playoff run, Schwartz was great in 2019, earning second-team All-Pro honors. Kansas City’s offensive line was a top five unit in pass protection, ranking as the fourth-best group in adjusted sack rate, which is even more impressive when you factor in Patrick Mahomes’ fast paced offense. While Schwartz was strong during the regular season, it was the Chiefs’ run to their Super Bowl LIV title where he really shined as an elite figure along the O-line. Over that three-game stretch and 142 pass-blocking snaps, Pro Football Focus calculates that Schwartz allowed just one hurry. That’s it. Similar to Ryan Ramczyk, he may get overlooked because he plays on the right side, but that would be foolish.
2. Raiders vs. Chiefs (AFL)
Overall head-to-head matchup during the decade: Series tied, 11-11
Playoff record during the decade: Series tied, 1-1
Longest winning streak: 4 (Chiefs, 1961-62; Raiders, 1968-69)
Best game: 1969 AFL Championship - Chiefs 17, Raiders 7
The first franchise to win the AFL title, the Chiefs held the upper hand in their matchups against the Raiders before Oakland began to turn things around in 1963, when Al Davis took over as the team’s head coach. By 1967, the Raiders had supplanted the Chiefs as the AFL’s premier team, as Oakland posted a 7-1 record against Kansas City from 1966-69. That stretch included Oakland’s 41-6 divisional round playoff win over the Chiefs. The Raiders, who won the AFL title a year earlier, would not make a return trip to the Super Bowl, coming up short against Joe Namath and the eventual world champion Jets in the ‘68 AFL title game.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes)
Mahomes played in one game his rookie season. In 2018, he got the starting job and absolutely crushed it for the Chiefs. He threw for 50 touchdowns and 5,097 yards, which led to the MVP award.
Last year, Mahomes played in 14 games. Hampered by injury, and coming back from a potentially worse knee injury, he led the Chiefs on an iconic, all-time great Super Bowl run. Each game, Mahomes and the Chiefs would come back from large deficits and win.
After watching Mahomes operate during the championship run, and how well he played his first year as a starter in 2018, he’s clearly on the path to greatness. And, it might be the beginning of a new dynasty in the NFL.
3. Improbable Comeback & Road Playoff Win Over The Kansas City Chiefs (2017 )
In 2017, the Tennessee Titans snuck into the postseason as the AFC’s sixth and final seed, which paired the franchise up against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Titans reaching the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade initially seemed like an accomplishment in itself. As Tennessee trailed Kansas City 21-3 at halftime, a massive second half from the road underdogs led to an improbable comeback victory. With quarterback Marcus Mariota somehow throwing a touchdown to himself, running back Derrick Henry carrying defenders downfield and wide receiver Eric Decker finding the end zone to put the Titans up late, Tennessee pulled off the impossible by capturing an unlikely 22-21 win.
Unfortunately for the surging Titans, that win would be the only victory for Tennessee that postseason as the heralded New England Patriots eliminated them from Super Bowl contention in the divisional round the following week. However, because this game unfolded as it did with a national audience paying attention to each and every play, it is hard to argue with the fact that this is one of the top moments for this franchise.
Around the NFL
“I don’t think we took them lightly, personally. We just didn’t play well,” Harbaugh said in a 25-minute video conference call Monday. “If you want to go back and rehash it, we can. But we’re going to try to become a better team in that circumstance at the end of the season, just like we tried to become a better team throughout the season and we were very successful with that.”
2) Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Drafted: Round 1, No. 6 overall
My model forecasts Herbert starting sooner than Tua Tagovailoa, driving his No. 2 ranking in this file. One of the most useful proxies for assessing the best-case scenario for QB potential is clean-pocket performance. Over the past two seasons, Herbert threw 52 touchdown passes against just seven interceptions from a clean pocket (fourth-most TDs in FBS during span, per Pro Football Focus). That said, he also excelled against man coverage in 2019, completing 62.2 percent of his passes (sixth-best in the FBS, according to PFF) and threw 11 touchdowns against the blitz (the most without an interception among FBS QBs). That’s a lot of encouraging production, especially when considering that Herbert’s receivers dropped an exceptional number of passes: 32 in 2019, which was tied for sixth-most in the FBS, per PFF.
Haskins still has plenty of variables working against him: The team’s offensive line is, to put it charitably, a work in progress, particularly on the left side, and the skill-position group is young and lacks experience. But despite his atrocious overall rookie numbers and the coaching staff upheaval, I remain bullish on Haskins heading into this season. He’s supposedly down to 218 pounds after reporting last year at 235―no, really, he’s in the best shape of his life―and that change in body composition should help him better elude pressure behind the line. Crucially, Haskins will have another offseason under his belt building chemistry with his top targets in Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims, Kelvin Harmon, and the rest of the team’s young playmakers. Perhaps most importantly, he’s set to get all the first-team reps in whatever training camp and preseason look like―and, at least in theory, he’ll be playing in a scheme that maximizes his talent. Goff made a massive jump in his second season after posting abysmal rookie numbers, in large part thanks to the team’s change in coaching staff and scheme. After posting Goff-level stats as a rookie, Haskins has a chance for a Goff-level breakthrough in Year 2.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt said Monday that he “learned” from an incident in January, in which he admitted to police that he would fail a drug test for marijuana following a traffic stop.
“I would say that was out of character,” Hunt said. “I’ve been working to become a better person each and every day. Definitely not looking for anything like that to happen again. ... I’ve got to do better. Shouldn’t have done it. Ready to move on from that.”
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Acquiring Adams would bring not only cap flexibility but the creation of the best safety group in the NFL. I cannot stress this enough: Adams, Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill would play off each other perfectly. They all have flexibility to play anywhere, but also have distinct strengths (Adams in the box, Mathieu in the slot and Thornhill deep) that don’t duplicate. Throw in the fact that Adams reveres fellow LSU Tiger Mathieu and you could be getting the best version of an already-proven player. Good luck trying to throw between the numbers against a Chiefs defense with that trio.
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