If they are to have any chance at clinching the AFC bye, the Kansas City Chiefs will likely have to win their remaining 12 games. The Washington Football Team represents an opportunity for the Chiefs to right the ship after the early-season struggles. They'll have to lean on their stars and see improved contributions from down the roster to do so. This might be the week they make some personnel changes to find a spark.
Here are a few trending Chiefs going into Week 6:
Jerick McKinnon: Darrel Williams may get the start and a substantial share of the carries, but Jerick McKinnon might also get his chance to shine. Many have pointed out that the Chiefs' running game is missing a home run threat. McKinnon is the type of player that can get to the outside and break a screen play or wheel route into a long touchdown. He hasn't done anything yet, but you'd have to think his time is now.
Josh Gordon: The addition of a 30-year-old receiver midseason doesn't usually come with this much fanfare, but Josh Gordon has been the talk of the town in the last three weeks or so. This could be the week that it becomes more than just talk. His debut featured one catch and some signs that he wasn't entirely on the same page with the offense. With another week in the playbook and working with Patrick Mahomes, it sounds like expectations are ratcheting up for Gordon. This offense has shown an inability to get guys open, and drops have been another issue. Watch to see if No. 19 can make a difference in both departments this week.
Willie Gay Jr.: He returned last week without much significant box-score impact, but there were signs of life from the defense in the second half, and the speed and athleticism of Gay was part of the reason. This week, Anthony Hitchens is questionable with a knee issue and missed a lot of practice. Even if he plays, he might be on a snap count so that the Chiefs could lean more on Gay, even in subpackages. He has an opportunity to be among the best defensive players on the field for Steve Spagnuolo this season, and we could see some big plays against the Football Team on Sunday.
Others trending in the right direction this week: Jody Fortson, Darrel Williams, Rashad Fenton, Creed Humphrey, Mike Danna, Harrison Butker, Joe Thuney, Trey Smith, Juan Thornhill
Daniel Sorensen: Listen, he's not the only problem on this defense — but he's no small part of it, either. Missed tackles, blown coverage, guessing the wrong gap in run support — the variety of problems has seemed as substantial as the quantity. Finally, this week, there have been several hints from the coaches and the media that Juan Thornhill might finally start to have his snaps increased at the expense of Sorensen. In the immortal words of Mahomes, "I'll see it when I believe it."
Tershawn Wharton: Wharton looked like a disruptive force in training camp, set to break out in his second season. He's still getting plenty of snaps, but the impact hasn't been there. He doesn't have a sack or a tackle for loss in the first five weeks, and his pressures have been few and far between. The entire pass rush has been struggling, and the interior group we thought would be a strength has been invisible. The Chiefs need Wharton — along with Jarran Reed and others — to get it going and spend more time in offensive backfields.
Mike Hughes: The problems with the Chiefs' pass defense are on both levels: the lack of rush up front and opposing quarterbacks getting the ball out quick to wide-open receivers. The secondary has been too accommodating — giving up space and getting confused in coverage responsibilities. Hughes has been part of the issue there, but he's not the only one, as the Chiefs look for the right combination of corners. Deandre Baker has seen his snaps decrease in favor of Rashad Fenton. When Charvarius Ward comes back, Hughes also faces a reduced role.
Others trending in the wrong direction this week: Anthony Hitchens, Deandre Baker, Ben Niemann, Alex Okafor, Jarran Reed
Value (Sleeper) Pick
Noah Gray: He was inactive last week against the Bills, but we still have hopes for the rookie to emerge at some point this season. This week, Blake Bell is out with an injury, clearing the path for Gray to get back on the field. Many may not have noticed, but Gray was getting high marks for his run blocking work in training camp and earlier in the regular season. The Chiefs have been giving their new offensive tackles more help from tight ends in the passing game this season as well. Ideally, they can get away from Kelce blocking in favor of more production from the best player in the world at his position. So, getting Gray involved early and often could be part of the solution, along with giving the young guy a chance to shine.