AFC WEST CHAMPS
(33 votes: Baldinger, Battista, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Blair, Brandt, Burleson, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Goodbread, Grant, Hall, Hanzus, Jones, Jones-Drew, Lewis, Mariucci, O’Hara, Parr, Patra, Pioli, Rosenthal, Ross, Schein, Schrager, Sessler, Shook, Thomas, Trotter, Warner, Zierlein)
T-2. Denver Broncos (1 vote: Rank)
T-2. Las Vegas Raiders (1 vote: Carr)
Why Gregg Rosenthal chose the Chiefs: The defending champs need to go extra hard in their quest for home-field advantage. Even if the Arrowhead Stadium crowd is limited, the No. 1 seed in the AFC carries great significance: With postseason expansion, only one team per conference gets a bye into the Divisional Round.
Kansas City Chiefs 10–6
Los Angeles Chargers: 9–7
Denver Broncos: 5–11
Las Vegas Raiders: 5–11
There are people who like the Denver Broncos way, way more than I do. In fact, according to the William Hill betting house, the “Broncos’ over (of 7.5 wins) has attracted 89% of the total dollars wagered, which leads all NFL teams. Denver’s over has captured 84% of the tickets as well, which only trails Buffalo over 9 (93%), Arizona over 7 (90%) and Seattle over 9.5 (85%).” I thought Drew Lock was on the right path with Rich Scangarello calling the plays, and I’ll need Pat Shurmur to prove me wrong before I jump on board. Sample size is a dangerous thing, though I understand the Broncos’ responsiveness. Lock had a relatively low bad throw percentage of 17.8 last year over five games and 156 attempts (for perspective, randomly selected quarterbacks Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers had BT%s of 20.3 and 21.2, respectively). On to more important matters: I have the Chiefs losing to the Chargers (twice!), Ravens, Raiders and Buccaneers. While it’s entirely possible they are more dominant than they were a year ago because of the condensed offseason and the health of Patrick Mahomes, teams in their vicinity have now had two years to draft ancillary talent that should help slow them down.
After a quiet regular season, Watkins came up big for the Chiefs when they needed him in the playoffs. He renegotiated his contract to stay with the team for one more year, but it would be a surprise if Watkins is able to stay beyond 2020 with Kansas City having limited funds remaining. He hasn’t been the same since early-career foot issues but could earn another big contract if he plays well this season.
The week-long festivities begin on Wednesday, Sept. 2, as flags, banners and jerseys are placed throughout the city as part of a coordinated effort to dress the town in red. That includes banners on the exterior windows and inside the Grand Hall at Union Station, statues donning red and gold threads across the Country Club Plaza and numerous flags lining the iconic Sister Cities Bridge.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes and Chad Henne are set at quarterback, and the Chiefs would keep just two in a normal year — but this season is anything but usual. It makes little sense for the Chiefs to bring in a veteran like Matt Moore late in the offseason, as they did, if they planned to send him home at the end of training camp. Jordan Ta’amu heads to the practice squad.
Breech: The Chiefs will likely be my “best bet” to win the Super Bowl every season until Patrick Mahomes retires, so you should probably get used to reading that in this section for the next decade or so.
DeArdo: While their division should be more challenging than it was a year ago, the Chiefs should be in position to successfully defend their title when the 2020 playoffs begin. The Chiefs are expecting big things from rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who scored 16 touchdowns while averaging 6.6 yards per carry during his final season at LSU.
Dubin: Plus odds to bet Patrick Mahomes to win the Super Bowl? OK, I’ll take that.
Around the NFL
The Patriots acquired Sanu last October from the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round pick, a significant investment that resulted in Sanu playing only nine games for the team.
Still, the move doesn’t come as a surprise due to a combination of finances and overall fit in
Fournette, who was waived by Jacksonville on Monday, and Tampa Bay have agreed on a deal, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Wednesday evening. The signing is for one year with a max value of $3.5 million and a $2 million base salary plus incentives based on rushing yards and playing time, Rapoport reported.
Don’t attend mass gatherings
Stay at least six-feet apart from other people
Wear a mask
All of this is annoying but none of it is particularly difficult. At least it shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, there are still too many people who think social distancing or wearing a mask is a great affront to their personal liberty. The pandemic rages on, for who knows how long.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was asked about masks during a taped episode of the “10 Questions with Kyle Brandt” podcast. You can listen to the full episode here. At one point, Brandt asked Cousins how worried he was about the virus on a scale of 10-1. “If 1 is the person who says, ‘Masks are stupid, you’re all a bunch of lemmings’ and 10 is, ‘I’m not leaving my master bathroom for the next 10 years,’ where do you land?”
“I really didn’t want to go anywhere,” Mixon said. “I love our fans, I love my teammates and upstairs, they definitely value me in a way that a lot of people won’t. Like I said, I wanted to show my loyalty here and finish my career here. Hopefully in a few years I’ll be able to have another [contract].”
In a QB competition akin to the Chargers’, Dwyane Haskins was announced as Washington’s starter. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported there wasn’t much of a battle, with Haskins taking the bulk of the first-team reps as Alex Smith continues his miraculous comeback to the football field. “This was Haskins all along,” Rapoport asserted. That doesn’t take away from Smith’s progress. But it does speak to his uncertainty moving forward. The lack of preseason games means he still hasn’t been hit, and his recovering right leg hasn’t been tested. “It’s an incredible story,” Rapoport said. “It’s great that he’s been out there. But the reality is, there are some real questions about how well he can protect himself. ... Is he going to be safe?”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Tight end No. 3
Andy Reid has historically kept three tight ends on his roster. With tight numbers at other positions, there could be an exception made. Reid had played stretches of a season with only three tight ends. Perhaps the Chiefs could take a seventh wide receiver if they only keep two tight ends — Travis Kelce and Nick Keizer.
Ricky Seals-Jones and Deon Yelder are the candidates for the third spot. Yelder has missed most of camp due to injury and Seals-Jones hasn’t shown much on special teams to this point — a likely important factor in his roster fate as a third tight end.
With TE Travis Kelce in the lineup, the Chiefs have a 4-2 record against the Texans, including 2-0 in the playoffs. In those six games, Kelce has 41 catches for 558 yards (13.6 average) and 5 touchdowns. He had 3 TDs in the second quarter of KC's 51-31 playoff victory.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) September 2, 2020