Ben Baldwin of The Athletic tweeted out a graph of every quarterback’s efficiency on third down the past two seasons. The number was determined by completion percentage over expected and expected points added per play (passes, rushes, penalties). Many quarterbacks were bunched up next to each other on the graph, and then there’s Mahomes, who has the highest success rate on third down!
2019 record: 5-11
Odds to win AFC West: +1000
If these rankings were based on how talented your roster is, the Chargers definitely wouldn’t be in the last spot, but these rankings aren’t based on that at all, they’re based on whether or not a team has any chance of winning its division in 2020 and it doesn’t feel like the Chargers really have a shot. The problem for the Chargers is that they’re in the same division as the Chiefs and it’s hard to picture any scenario where Los Angeles is able to overtake Kansas City to win the division, especially when you consider that the Chargers are just 1-11 against the Chiefs since 2014. Also, to win the AFC West, the Chargers will ostensibly need to win a few divisional games, which isn’t something they were able to do last year (They went 0-6 against AFC West teams in 2019).
4: Kansas City Chiefs
Frank Clark and Alex Okafor offer up a quality pair of pass rushers for the Chiefs, but are also the weakest starting duo of any team in the West in terms of potential and upside.
Typically, I weigh proven production overpotential, but these two players have probably bumped up against their ceilings as players. Both in their late twenties, both more solid than elite, both are known commodities.
Clark offers high-end pass-rush ability and is a quality run defender, posting eight sacks and 46 total pressures despite missing a pair of games last season. There might be some more untapped potential as a pass rusher, as Clark has a pair of 10-plus sack seasons on his resume, most recently in 2018 when he was a member of the Seahawks. It seems like the potential for a breakout season is still there, but he can’t quite get over the hump on a consistent basis.
Wide Receiver: Tyreek Hill (Chiefs)
It’s still a bit difficult to view Tyreek Hill as a pure wide receiver of the same type as Allen or Sutton – after all, he is a little bit of a one-trick pony. The thing is, he’s really, really good at that one trick – which is running really fast – faster than probably anybody else in the league. And also not having hands of stone. Combine that with one of the best deep passers in the league for his quarterback, and you’ve got a very deadly weapon.
Tight End: Travis Kelce (Chiefs)
Like his teammate Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce has benefited heavily from the arrival of Patrick Mahomes. He’s had exactly 200 receptions over the past two years, 2,500+ receiving yards, and 15 touchdowns. He’s currently dueling with George Kittle for the title of best in the league at tight end, but he’s pretty easily the best in the AFC right now.
DT Xavier Williams
Williams has appeared in 44 regular season games and four playoff contests since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He has recorded 83 combined tackles, three sacks as well as three forced fumbles while spending time with the Arizona Cardinals (2015-17) and the Kansas City Chiefs (2018-19). The 28-year-old was part of the Super Bowl winning Chiefs last year, even though he did not appear in the title game and spent time on temporary injured reserve because of a high-ankle sprain.
Adding the veteran to the defensive tackle position makes sense considering that free agency signee Beau Allen has been sidelined throughout the early portions of training camp for undisclosed reasons. With Allen out, the Patriots’ depth chart at the position also includes Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Byron Cowart, undrafted rookie Bill Murray and now Xavier Williams. Darius Kilgo, who was recently added to the equation, was released again as part of today’s transactions.
Around the NFL
“Saturday’s daily COVID testing returned several positives tests from each of the clubs serviced by the same laboratory in New Jersey. We are working with our testing partner, BioReference, to investigate these results, while the clubs work to confirm or rule out the positive tests. Clubs are taking immediate precautionary measures as outlined in the NFL-NFLPA’s health and safety protocols to include contact tracing, isolation of individuals and temporarily adjusting the schedule, where appropriate. The other laboratories used for NFL testing have not had similar results.”
Replays showed Jackson’s helmet colliding with that of offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi as the two engaged at the line of scrimmage. Jackson fell to the turf and remained there for several minutes before the team’s medical staff strapped him onto a backboard, with the face mask removed from his helmet, and loaded him into an ambulance.
The Ravens announced they had terminated his contract for personal conduct that has adversely affected the team. The Ravens are expected to try to void his $10 million guaranteed salary this season. It is expected the safety will file a grievance.
A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Thomas punched Clark during Friday’s practice.
QBs: Drew Brees, Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Tommy Stevens
Having quarterback-whisperer status is paying big dividends for coach Sean Payton. Last year, Teddy Bridgewater declined a chance to start in Miami for at least one season in favor of returning for another year of backup duty behind Drew Brees. That decision couldn’t have turned out better; Bridgewater parlayed a 5-0 stretch filling in for Brees into a three-year, $63 million contract to start in Carolina. Such success caught the attention of former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston, who accepted a below-market offer to try to reinvent himself in New Orleans after flaming out in Tampa. The fact that Winston threw for a league-high 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2019 shows he can thrive under center. The one thing that has held Winston back is a propensity for turnovers, as evidenced by another category in which he led the league: interceptions (30). The hope is that he’ll become more judicious with the football after working with Payton and watching Brees, who threw roughly half as many picks in the past three seasons combined (17) as Winston piled up in 2019 alone.
“I wasn’t good enough,” Mack said, via USA Today. “Wasn’t good enough at all. Understanding that, there are different intangibles that came with it. I don’t make any excuses. I just rise to the occasion and I am getting ready for this one. It’s gonna be a fun one, man, I can’t wait.”
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
It remains to be seen how the Chiefs line up Week 1 against the Houston Texans. Wilson missed Saturday’s practice, and Gay has been incredibly impressive in his limited reps. Niemann understands that this all could change — and quickly — as he explained on Friday.
NIEMANN: “I’m mean just getting into my book, learn as many spots as possible, so I can plug in and play wherever they need me to. You know, line-ups shuffle, things change, guys come in, guys leave, guys get hurt so just being able to plug and play kind of wherever and this offseason just tried to attack everything in terms of working out the playbook and all that.”
That versatility at linebacker may make Niemann even more important in an uncertain NFL season. If Wilson, Hitchens or Gay have to miss time, having a linebacker that knows the spots and keeps the communication strong is incredibly valuable.
A tweet to make you think
Top Max Speeds Reached by Chiefs’ WR 2019 Season, Incl. Playoffs:— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) August 23, 2020
Hardman- WK 10 - 21.87 MPH 2nd
Hardman- Div - 21.85 MPH - 3rd
Hardman- WK 3 - 21.74 MPH 4th
Watkins- WK 1 - 21.33 MPH T-10th
Hill- WK 10 - 21.33 MPH T-10th
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