TWO ADDITIONAL STORYLINES
How will the Chiefs approach the season as defending champions? After winning the Super Bowl, teams often deal with battling overconfidence and contract issues. I think the Chiefs are in good shape to handle the former but contract issues are another matter, and it’s hard to predict how they will affect the team. For the Chiefs, it all starts with the workmanlike attitude of head coach Andy Reid. His business approach of being steady — never getting too high or low in his emotions — will set the tone. The way this offseason has gone — with no celebratory tours or banquet circuits for players — has probably kept everyone from getting overconfident in their chances to repeat. The key to keeping the right attitude rests in the hands of leaders Patrick Mahomes and Tyrann Mathieu. They set a high standard with their work ethic and passion for the game. They will hold others accountable. The team could use that Tom Brady mentality of one title is NOT enough.
Super Bowl Favorites
1b. Kansas City Chiefs
1a. Baltimore Ravens
Picking between these teams requires splitting hairs, and the Ravens win the tiebreaker because (cliché alert) they are hungrier. That is not a knock on the Chiefs. Kansas City is the defending Super Bowl champion with the rare distinction of returning all three coordinators, 20 of 22 starters, and 22 of 23 assistant coaches from their championship squad. That’s rad. Also, Patrick Mahomes still exists.
But the Ravens get the nod after also returning all of their coordinators, all 17 assistant coaches, and every starter except future Hall of Fame guard Marshal Yanda, who retired after the season. They improved their defense significantly by adding Calais Campbell, and they have an entire offseason to tinker with the offense that set the record for rushing yards and rushing yards per attempt in the Super Bowl era. Also, the Ravens had one of the best four defenses in football, and that combination is why they went 14-2 and earned the 1-seed last year. In 2020, Baltimore has one of the four easiest schedules, according to Warren Sharp. Only one AFC team is getting a bye in 2020, and the Ravens look like the most likely candidate
“I mean, just bringing another weapon to the table, honestly,” Travis Kelce said of Edwards-Helaire on FOX Football Now in May with Erin Andrews, Peter Schrager and Charissa Thompson. “And I know one thing about the Kansas City Chiefs organization — (head) coach (Andy) Reid, (team owner) Mr. (Lamar) Hunt, you go down the line — what they do is they grab good character guys to bring into the facility, to bring into the building, to make coming into work fun, to try and weed out the guys that may be in it for other reasons or whatever they’ve got going on.
“Most of the guys that are coming into this office love to play football and love to learn and get better at football, and that’s what you can appreciate about the Kansas City Chiefs — they’re always going to bring in hard workers and people that’ll give you fuel in life instead of draining you all the time.”
7. AFC West
Broncos’ Drew Lock
Chargers’ Tyrod Taylor / Justin Herbert
Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes
Raiders’ Derek Carr / Marcus Mariota
Mahomes is the best player in football regardless of position, making him the best quarterback in football by a wide margin, but even he couldn’t elevate the AFC West. Nobody really doubts Mahomes’ credentials after his MVP season and his Super Bowl winning season, so let’s just move onto the other three.
Maybe Lock will develop into a good or great quarterback. I don’t doubt his potential. But he’s an unknown after a five-start rookie season. He has many traits that are easy to like, but traits don’t automatically translate to success in the NFL. Maybe he finds success in Year 2. Maybe he doesn’t. The point is, we just don’t know after a five-start rookie season. It could go either way.
On Tuesday, Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker will release his own clothing line, dubbed BUTKER, in partnership with a company called NOVUS. The newly released items will be available on Butker’s website.
“I wanted to deliver a product that the fans would love to wear,” Butker said. “The biggest thing for me is that the fans are proud of what they’re wearing (and) that they’re getting something that is super-high quality.”
After Butker’s rookie season, he came out with red “Buttkicker” T-shirts in homage to his nickname. Kansas City shirt store Charlie Hustle then helped him produce another one. But Butker wanted to create additional products that he could completely personalize.
No. 68: Will Shields, G
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Shields was a mauler in the run game and helped pave the way for the likes of Marcus Allen, Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. He played in 12 Pro Bowls, which is a league record. He was also named an All-Pro following seven of his 14 NFL seasons. Shields has since been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame.
No. 69: Jared Allen, DE
Allen was just as entertaining off the field as he was on the gridiron. He was selected to five Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro four times. He scored an NFL record four safeties in addition to 136 sacks, 31 forced fumbles and six interceptions. On a random note, Allen had committed to Washington before the Huskies pulled his scholarship offer over an alleged yearbook stealing prank.
And we’ll continue our preseason look at the postseason awards rankings with our top contenders for MVP (Odds courtesy of Oddsshark.com).
5) Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs (+600)/ Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens (+750): This has nothing to do with how good I think these guys will be. It’s more so a commentary on how good they’ll need to be to win the award. Again, these awards are tied to storylines, and either of these guys just being awesome again probably won’t be enough. They’ll have to top what they’ve done before, and that won’t be easy.
5. Andy Reid vs. Sean Payton (Week 15: Chiefs at Saints)
The NFL might want to make sure there’s two scoreboard operators working this game, because if there’s only one guy, he might not be able to keep up with all the points that will likely be scored in this December showdown, which will be televised on CBS. Reid and Payton are arguably the two best offensive coaches in the NFL right now, and unfortunately for us, it’s not often that we get to see them coach against each other. Over the past decade, Reid and Payton have only met ONCE, and that meeting came in 2016 when the Chiefs beat the Saints 27-21. That was before Reid had Patrick Mahomes though, so you should probably expect a few more points this time around (Reid and Payton would have coached against each other in 2012, but Payton was suspended for the entire season due to bountygate). This coaching matchup is also intriguing, because it could end up being a Super Bowl preview.
Around the NFL
FedEx, which has naming rights to the stadium in which the Washington Redskins play, made a request Thursday that the team change its nickname.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement obtained by ESPN.
FedEx paid $205 million to the Redskins for naming rights to the stadium in 1998 in a deal that runs through 2025. Frederick Smith, the chairman, CEO and president of FedEx Corp., also owns a minority stake in the Redskins.
Team owner Dan Snyder has been under renewed pressure to change the nickname, with protestors reportedly targeting the team’s sponsors, according to Adweek.
FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo each received letters signed by 87 investment firms and shareholders worth a combined $620 billion asking the companies to sever ties with the team unless it changes its controversial name, Adweek reported Wednesday.
Quarterback Cam Newton explained his viewpoint on the modest one-year contract he has agreed to with the New England Patriots, writing on Instagram, “This is not about money for me, it’s about respect.”
Newton, who has made more than $100 million during his 10-year career, is guaranteed just $550,000 as part of his one-year contract with the Patriots, according to a source. His base salary is $1.05 million, which is the minimum for a player with his experience.
Newton, 31, can earn an additional $6.45 million in incentives and per-game roster bonuses. There is no provision that restricts the Patriots from assigning him the franchise tag in 2021.
The New York Giants announced on Thursday a number of changes to their football operations staff. Among the 10 people entering new roles with the team is 25-year-old Hannah Burnett, who has the added distinction of being the storied franchise’s first full-time female scout.
According to the team’s website, Burnett, a former lacrosse standout at the University of Massachusetts, was interviewed via Zoom by vice president of football operations and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams, director of college scouting Chris Pettit and assistant director of player personnel Tim McDonnell. Upon speaking with general manager Dave Gettleman the following day, the decision to hire her was quickly made.
“I played sports forever, ever since I can remember. To be able to be part of a team again that’s working toward one common goal is what I’ve been doing my whole life,” Burnett said, per Michael Eisen of Giants.com. “I’ve always been a part of a team. It’s helped me transition into the NFL. When I got to UMass and majored in sports management, I knew I wanted to work in sports in some capacity.”
In an ongoing effort to recognize social justice, the NFL is discussing with players the possibility of wearing helmet decals or jersey patches recognizing those impacted by systemic racism and police brutality throughout the 2020 season, NFL Network’s Steve Wyche reported Thursday, per a source with knowledge of the development.
For example, a player could wear a helmet decal with “G.F.” for George Floyd, whose death in May while in Minneapolis police custody has sparked a global reckoning over police brutality and racial prejudice.
The decision to wear decals or patches would be left up to individual players, although teams could decide to act as a whole, Wyche added.
Jason Reid of ESPN’s The Undefeated first reported the news Thursday.
In addition, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, known as the Black national anthem, will be played before all 16 Week 1 games. The song will be played prior to the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Garafolo is not optimistic that a long-term deal will be done — and neither am I. Since the Indianapolis Colts made an aggressive trade to acquire DeForest Buckner from the 49ers and pay him a massive contract, I’ve believed Jones will be playing on the tag this year. The Chiefs do not look remotely close to meeting the $21M APY number that Buckner earned. You would have to think Jones is looking for similar.
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