On Monday night, the Chiefs will try to extend their 12-game win streak going against their only real competition for “best team in the NFL.” As our own Ron Kopp pointed out, they’ll need to be better than they were against the Chargers.
Given the marquee matchup in primetime and the alpha dog personalities leading the Chiefs team, they should be ready to rise to the occasion. Mahomes will be motivated to reclaim MVP status by defeating last year’s award-winner, and the Kansas City defense should be eager to put last week’s performance behind them.
Here are three Chiefs trending in each direction going into Week 3:
This week’s Bulls
- Mike Pennel: Welcome back, MVPennel! Just like last season, the Chiefs are struggling to defend the run as Pennel joins the rotation. Let’s see if he can orchestrate a similar resurgence in the run defense in 2020 against a Ravens team more than capable of running the football.
- Taco Charlton: The Chiefs debut for the former first-round pick went pretty well. He looks like a player who can generate consistent pressure from the defensive end position, and the Chiefs will need a healthy rotation of players chasing Lamar Jackson this week, keeping him uncomfortable.
- Darwin Thompson: It’s likely still a very limited role for Thompson this week, but the back might just see some additional opportunities against the Ravens. We’re not sure exactly how healthy Darrel Williams’ ankle will be, and given the fact that the Chiefs protected DeAndre Washington on the practice squad, the team may be preparing to play without him. If that’s the case, Thompson could be a factor on Monday night. He’s quick, tough and can be dynamic in space. Watch to see if he can build on last week’s contribution to the Chiefs offense.
Others trending in the right direction: Mike Danna, Tedric Thompson, L’Jarius Sneed, Mecole Hardman
This week’s Bears
- Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher: The Chiefs have one of the most valuable assets in football, stability and ability at both offensive tackle positions. Last week against the Chargers, both struggled. Of course, it wasn’t all their fault. We saw Mahomes drifting in his dropbacks, along with other factors that made the whole line struggle against LA. This week, they’ll face another significant test in a Ravens team that is aggressive and could send multiple blitzers at any time. It is a good bet that both Chiefs tackles will bounce back, even if it’s not against Baltimore.
- Juan Thornhill: The Chiefs’ young free safety is returning from a serious knee injury, and it appears that he doesn’t fully trust it yet. Last week, he missed a number of tackles, and one chance at an interception that he would have made last year. His role on the defense will be important this week, as the last line of defense against a scrambling quarterback or a jump ball thrown to the Ravens speedy receivers. Thornhill will get his opportunities to make plays. If he still doesn’t look like himself, perhaps it’s time Tedric Thompson takes a few more snaps.
Others trending in the wrong direction: Ben Niemann, Damien Wilson, Anthony Hitchens
Value (sleeper) pick: Willie Gay, Jr.
We haven’t seen much of the Chiefs’ second-round pick on defense. He’s been working on special teams and has shown tantalizing athletic traits, but he hasn’t found a spot in the defensive rotation. Steve Spagnuolo has deployed Dorian O’Daniel before in a very limited role, helping to contain a dual-threat quarterback. The Chiefs happen to face arguably the second-best quarterback in the game at that on Monday night. Watch for Willie Gay, Jr. against Lamar Jackson; he might just make a key play or two.