Your Kansas City Chiefs are finally back to .500 — and they have an opportunity over the next two weeks to show they are on the right track. Many are concerned that they’ll be trapped on the tracks when the train that is Derrick Henry rolls through this game. But there are some signs that the Chiefs are a machine all their own.
If they can take care of what they do best this week, they’ll put a winning streak together. Here are some trending Chiefs this week as they take on the Tennessee Titans:
Nick Bolton: He may have some limitations in coverage, but Bolton is really starting to assert himself and get to the right spots as a run-stopper. He’s leading all NFL rookies in tackles now with 40, and his opportunity is only growing. Anthony Hitchens will miss this week, so Bolton may get some time with the green dot, getting a chance to show off his ability as a MIKE linebacker.
Chris Jones: While he’s taken a couple of extra weeks to recover from a wrist injury, Jones has faced nothing but questions and criticism. Some question his toughness and most question his ability to play on the EDGE. Any conclusions about Chris Jones this season might be premature, as his sample size has been quite limited. We’ll see if those who reported Jones moving back to the inside were correct or guessing. Either way, Jones should be back with bad intentions. He’s got something extra to prove, and the Titans are an interesting challenge for him in the run game and the opportunity to get to the quarterback. We should expect a big week from Jones.
Mecole Hardman: He’s now pacing for the best season of his career, but in a very different way, statistically speaking. Hardman is getting more targets, more receptions, but fewer touchdowns and a much lower average yards per catch. He may be settling into his role as a gadget-type chain mover. His speed and quickness are still a weapon, but he’s got an opportunity to be a reliable role player instead of someone waiting to develop. This week, we want to see Hardman hold on to the football, of course, but if he can continue to get five to 10 touches per game, he’ll help the offense continue to be efficient, which will be important against the Titans.
Others trending in the right direction this week: Willie Gay Jr., Jarran Reed, Juan Thornhill, Tershawn Wharton, Rashad Fenton, Darrel Williams, Noah Gray, Mike Remmers, Mike Danna
Deandre Baker: The Chiefs’ cornerback room has evolved quite a bit as the season has gone on — Rashad Fenton has stepped up, Mike Hughes has maintained a role, and L’Jarius Sneed has been quiet but is starting to make some plays. Baker has been either inactive or seeing minimal snaps of late, and that’s not likely to change this week. Charvarius Ward is expected to return from injury to reclaim his place in the rotation, meaning Baker will continue to wait for another chance to contribute.
Tommy Townsend: He gets less work than any punter in the league, so maybe he was out of practice last week? That shanked punt to start the third quarter felt like rock bottom for this Chiefs team and gave many of us flashbacks to the Super Bowl. This Tennessee team has an offense you don’t want to provide extra chances. Field position might be a significant factor in this game, so the Chiefs will need Townsend to be focused and on target.
Ben Niemann: There are two players that Chiefs fans are tired of seeing on defense. One of them had their role cut last week (Daniel Sorensen), but the other is in line for a more significant role this week. Niemann is likely to be on the field a lot versus the Titans, and the matchup might not be great for him. Tackling Derrick Henry will be as tricky as covering their big receiving targets. Niemann has a role on this team, but we may see too much of No. 56 chasing this week with Hitchens out.
Others trending in the wrong direction this week: Lucas Niang, Anthony Hitchens, Daniel Sorensen
Value (sleeper) picks
Jerick McKinnon and Josh Gordon: We might just have to keep these guys on the value pick list until they break out. Both bring a unique, explosive ability to this offense that doesn’t really exist without them. Neither has gotten any significant opportunity thus far. Either could start making plays this week against the Titans. With Gordon, the coaching staff keeps saying he needs to get comfortable with the offense. He’s now had a reasonable amount of time to do so, and the loss of Jody Fortson could open up at least a few more jump ball opportunities for Gordon. McKinnon showed some toughness running through tacklers for a first down last week and has a totally different skill set from Darrel Williams. Watch for No. 1 and No. 19 this week and every week from here on out.