5. AFC West
Thanks to the Chiefs, the AFC West has turned into the most predictable division in football. The Chiefs have won the division four straight times and they’re a heavy favorite to do it again in 2020. Of course, the Chiefs aren’t perfect. One reason the division is ranked so low is because the AFC West’s top team actually struggled against non-divisional teams in 2019. The Chiefs went just 6-4 outside the division, and just as a reminder, only one of the losses came while Mahomes was injured.
The Chiefs are repeating as Super Bowl champions.
Congrats to Andy Reid and Chiefs Kingdom. Can’t wait for another parade through downtown Kansas City in February of 2021. Patty Mahomes, getcha beer-catching hand ready.
Hyperbole? Hardly. The champs won July. Owned it. Crushed it. Solidified their standing atop any and all power rankings. Cemented their status as the team to beat, likely for years to come. At this moment, picking any other squad to win Super Bowl LV is contrarian cuteness.
It’s important to start with the 450 Million Dollar Man. Or is he the 503 Million Dollar Man? Whatever you want to call him, Patrick Mahomes just signed the richest contract in the history of American team sports. He’s the best player at the game’s most important position. He’s the best player in the NFL. He’s the best player — the best show — in sports today. Not to mention, Mahomes is the epitome of class and leadership, on and off the field. You hand him that cash without a second thought. And here’s something the rest of the NFL doesn’t want to think about:
Mahomes is only getting started.
Who would win in a race between Tyreek Hill and Marquise Goodwin?
If only we could get video of Hill’s reaction. You better believe he’s probably laughing things off. Just recently, he challenged Dolphins running back Matt Breida to a race. Not only that, Hill said he’d give up his Cheetah nickname if Breida were to beat him.
Well, what would he do if Goodwin were to take him down? Retire from the Chiefs for a season? That obviously won’t happen, but getting these two receivers to battle it out on the field sure would be entertaining. Last year, Hill posted a top speed of 22.81 miles per hour chasing down teammate Damien Williams on a long touchdown run.
In a normal year, the reigning Super Bowl champion often faces a disadvantage due to shortened recovery time. Five of the 10 winning squads in the last decade failed to earn a playoff victory the following campaign, and there hasn’t been a back-to-back champ since 2003-04. However, a pandemic-impacted offseason could give Kansas City an unprecedented advantage.
Kansas City Chiefs (+2500)
Last year’s Super Bowl champions are poised to repeat but let’s not forget that as good as they were, Patrick Mahomes and his crew were not perfect as evidenced by their four regular-season losses to Indianapolis, Houston, Green Bay, and Tennessee. This season the Chiefs are tied with Carolina for 18th in strength of schedule as their opponents average a .500 winning percentage from last season.
And although the combined average of their opponents’ records is rather ho-hum, and certainly avails itself to the Chiefs punishing several stiffs on the docket, we cannot overlook more than a few daunting foes including the Patriots, Bills, Bucs, Saints and of course, the formidable Ravens…in Baltimore no less! That showdown occurs in Week 3 and if the Chiefs can defeat a goliath like Baltimore in its own crib, then it would be a huge step in the right direction.
Chiefs star safety and team leader Tyrann Mathieu has the second-best overall rating of all the safeties in the game with a 93 overall rating. Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith is the only player with a better rating coming in at 95 overall.
Check out the top 10 safeties in the game by overall rating below:
Mathieu started the 2019 season as an 87 overall in “Madden NFL 20.” It’d seem that becoming a Super Bowl LIV champion and being voted as the team MVP was good enough for an overall rating bump of six points. We still don’t have the individual ratings, but those should be here on Friday.
There was nary a running back off the board in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft until the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs secured dynamic Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the final pick, and then a whopping nine running backs went in Rounds 2 and 3. Fantasy managers love dreaming about immediate impact for the rookie running backs, and they should to some degree, since so many NFL organizations seem to view the position as mostly interchangeable parts and loathe investing major money into their choices.
Around the NFL
Is there a way for this deal to work out better, for both the Titans and Henry, than so many other recent running back contracts? Henry’s pact will reportedly include two years in guarantees. In practical guarantees, that’s $25 million, since the AAV of the deal amounts to $12.5 million (fifth among running backs, according to Over the Cap). Ultimately, it’s a good haul for a running back. It also allows for Tennessee to potentially move on from Henry, who’s entering his age-26 season, ahead of his age-29 season. Henry, who’s 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, has generated production to this point in his career similar to that of fellow 220-pound-plus running backs Ricky Williams, DeMarco Murray, Larry Johnson, and Gerald Riggs. As The Athletic’s Mike Sando has noted, each of those players drastically declined by their seventh season; only one of those players (Williams) amassed more than 700 yards in their seventh pro year. The Titans, however, will be able to focus on what Henry can do for them in the short term.
In the past week, three team employees abruptly parted ways with the organization after the Post presented its findings to the organization.
Two of those employees are radio broadcaster Larry Michael and director of pro personnel Alex Santos. Michael, seven former employees said, regularly commented on his female colleagues’ physical appearance with sexual overtones. Six former employees say Michael was overheard on a “hot mic” in 2018 remarking on the attractiveness of a college-aged intern.
Michael announced his retirement Wednesday, offering no reason for his decision but expressing gratitude to team owner Dan Snyder.
In the Post’s report, six former employees and two reporters who covered the team said Santos made inappropriate comments and romantic overtures. He was the subject of an internal investigation after Rhiannon Walker, a reporter for The Athletic, told Washington management that Santos had pinched her in public, asked whether she would date him and made inappropriate remarks about her appearance.
As NFL teams continue making preparations for the start of training camp, one major question remained about the Green Bay Packers’ annual events. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, fans will not be allowed at practices — an edict that came down from the league some time ago — and the team has gone to an all-virtual annual Shareholders Meeting.
But what of Family Night?
The annual event — first a scrimmage and now a more traditional practice — is always one of the highlights of training camp, as Packers players get their annual introduction to Lambeau Field each August. Even more fun is the opportunity for local fans and their families to participate, sitting in the seating bowl for a low price per person. And of course the event helps the community as well, with ticket sale revenue going to various charitable causes.
The 72 number is difficult to put into context, because not every player in the league, or even a very large number, has been tested. But estimating 32 traditional 90-man training camp rosters would give you a number of 2,880 total NFL players at the moment, which means the 72 represent 2.5% of the league’s player population.
Jacksonville Jaguars · QB
Thrown into the fire when Nick Foles went down with a broken collarbone in the first quarter of the 2019 season-opener, Minshew put forth an effort that would have been considered more than solid for any rookie quarterback, let alone one drafted in the sixth round, as Minshew was last year. He went 6-6 as a starter, with 21 touchdown passes against six interceptions, while building a strong rapport with young receiver D.J. Chark (1,008 receiving yards, eight touchdowns). Minshew apparently did enough to earn a chance this season to cement himself as the team’s long-term starter, given that the Jags did not draft or sign a serious competitor for quarterback snaps. The hiring of former Washington head coach Jay Gruden as Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator will only help Minshew’s cause — I think this player is going to be pretty good, when it’s all said and done.
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The players will be tested for COVID-19 on Monday. As we noted from Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt’s tweet from Thursday afternoon, players have not been given a disease response plan, they don’t know how they will conduct camp safely and don’t know if there will be any preseason games. Still, Texans players were also told to report on Monday.
The Chiefs are scheduled to host the Texans on opening night, Thursday, September 10.
The various question marks can’t stop the Chiefs from telling their players to report, and now it will be up to the NFL Players Association to file an expedited grievance if they want to hold camp back.
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