We’re roughly a month out from the beginning of the NFL season. Unfortnuately, the absence of preseason games will prevent fans from getting any sort of preview on their upcoming opponents.
So I went through every Kansas City Chiefs opponent in 2020, looking for a statistic that is relevant in the matchup:
Week 1 vs. Houston Texans
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has played in 100% of quarterback Deshaun Watson’s career starts.
Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals this offseason. The Texans’ fourth-year quarterback has lost one of the best receivers in the game.
Hopkins’ ability to make contested catches — and make plays on the sideline — could be sorely missed. The Texans did not effectively replace his skill set.
Week 2 and Week 17: Los Angeles Chargers
In two 2019 games against the Chargers, Patrick Mahomes earned a 74.6 passer rating.
This was his lowest rating against any one team in 2019. Elsewhere within the division last season, Mahomes had a 118.1 rating against Denver and a 111.6 rating against Las Vegas.
The Chargers were also the only team to intercept Mahomes multiple times in the regular season.
Week 3 at Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson had a career-high 42 passing attempts against the Chiefs in 2019.
That career high is for the regular season. Jackson topped that with 59 attempts in the Divisional round loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Including the playoff loss, Jackson has lost three of the four games in which he threw 34 or more passes.
Week 4 vs. New England Patriots
Last season, the Patriots allowed 29.3 points per game to the Ravens, Texans and Chiefs.
Against the rest of their schedule, they allowed just 10.5 points per game.
Week 5 and Week 11: Las Vegas Raiders
In 12 career games against the Chiefs, Derek Carr has committed 16 turnovers.
This includes four in the two 2019 matchups with Kansas City.
During the offseason, the Raiders signed former Titans starting quarterback Marcus Mariota. If Carr is unable to make the Raiders competitive, could head coach Jon Gruden get impatient and switch to Mariota?
Week 6 at Buffalo Bills
In 2019, cornerback Tre’Davious White allowed passer rating of just 46.3.
That was the fifth-lowest passer rating allowed by any cornerback with at least 500 pass-coverage snaps last season.
White plays alongside veteran cornerback Josh Norman and safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. The Buffalo secondary is one of several reasons why this Thursday Night Football matchup could be among the most difficult contests on the schedule.
Week 7 and Week 13: Denver Broncos
When Drew Lock started, Denver offense averaged nearly six more points per game.
They scored 15.9 points per game in the 11 games before Lock took over in Week 13. From that point on, the Broncos averaged 21.4 points and went 4-1 — their only loss being to the Chiefs at Arrowhead during a snowstorm.
Week 8 vs. New York Jets
In his career against the Chiefs, Le’Veon Bell has averaged 5.83 yards per carry.
For Bell, that’s the second-largest against one opponent. Bell’s rushing effectiveness against Kansas City stretches over four regular-season games.
This game will be Bell’s first against the Chiefs as a member of the Jets.
Week 9 vs. Carolina Panthers
In 2019, the Chiefs allowed the most targets and receiving yards to running backs.
The team allowed 138 targets to be converted into 100 receptions — third in the league — good for 951 yards.
This is significant because of Panthers starting running back Christian McCaffrey. In 2019, McCaffrey’s 116 receptions ranked second among all players, earning him 1005 receiving yards.
Week 12 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In the final 12 games of 2019 (including the postseason), quarterback Tom Brady had one game with a passer rating above 100.
Last season, Brady got a pass for his subpar performance because the Patriots had little talent in their receiving corps. Tampa Bay’s receivers will be a big upgrade for him — but it’s also true that in 2019, Brady showed the league how uncomfortable he is against constant pressure.
Week 14 at Miami Dolphins
The 2019 Dolphins defense gave up the most points in the league — and the third-most total yards.
I wouldn’t bank on a similar result in 2020. The Dolphins got better and better as the 2019 season progressed — culminating in an upset victory in New England over the Patriots in Week 17. With former Patriots defensive assistant Brian Flores at head coach, you can expect the Dolphins to be a tougher out this season.
Week 15 at New Orleans Saints
Quarterback Drew Brees’ completion percentage, passer rating, and yards per attempt significantly increase when playing at home.
The future Hall of Famer has had the advantage of playing in a dome for a while — and it’s helping him statistically. His completion percentage goes up nearly 9% at home, his passer rating is almost 10 points higher and he averages 8.32 yards per attempt at home — compared to 7.12 on the road.
Week 16 vs. Atlanta Falcons
The 2019 Falcons forced 10 turnovers during their four-game win streak to end the season.
Last season, the Falcons started off slow — but finished strong with good defense in the final quarter of the year. Defensive-minded head coach Dan Quinn saved his job with the team’s late-season performance.