It finally feels like your Kansas City Chiefs have some momentum heading into what could be an epic game against the Dallas Cowboys. With Patrick Mahomes confident and having fun, all things are possible for this team. The defense has also seen an incredible resurgence on the backs of an improving front seven. Luck also finally appears to be favoring the Chiefs, as the Cowboys will be short a star receiver (Amari Cooper), a pass rusher (Randy Gregory) and likely a starting offensive lineman (Tyron Smith) in this shootout.
Here are a few Chiefs who might be trending going into this week’s matchup:
Byron Pringle: Pringle was a significant part of last week’s win, even before his touchdown catch. He’s being recognized around the league as one of the best blocking wide receivers, and the team seems to be rewarding him with increased snaps. Pringle was on the field for 61% of offensive snaps and kept his usual role on special teams. Then, he went out and caught 4 of 5 targets for 46 yards and a score. Pringle will be a valuable player heading into the playoff run if the Chiefs can continue to get that kind of production from him consistently, along with the other things he does. The Chiefs face a good Cowboys secondary, who will likely be very focused on Tyreek Hill, leaving opportunities for Pringle to do his thing.
Chris Jones: When Patrick Mahomes was struggling, we all pointed to a couple of plays at the end of a game as the turning point. Jones had a pair of batted passes to help close out the Raiders and an intense look about him. Perhaps his production is about to spike to the level we had expected. When he works on the inside, the matchup could be in his favor this week against the Cowboys. Connor McGovern will start at left guard, replacing the league’s most penalized player in Connor Williams (10 flags, 8 for holding). Chris Jones certainly puts guards in unwinnable situations, so it’s fair to expect him to disrupt this game.
Derrick Nnadi: We may be sleeping on Nnadi a bit, but he’s been an absolute monster as the season has gone on. He’s always been stout at the point of attack, but he pops off the screen on many of the big plays for the defense this season. His ability to occupy blockers, keep gap discipline and disrupt against the run have been critical in the turnaround. He’s also been able to log a couple of sacks in recent weeks, which is a nice bonus. It’s a tall order defending against the Dallas running game, but Nnadi and company appear poised to show they are for real.
Others trending in the right direction this week: Melvin Ingram, Willie Gay, Jr, Rashad Fenton, Jarran Reed, Blake Bell, Bryon Pringle, Darrel Williams, Noah Gray, L’Jarius Sneed, Orlando Brown, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith
Mecole Hardman: Anyone who expected Hardman to be No. 2 wide receiver has to be disappointed after his role seems to have decreased recently. Hardman had only three touches for 30 total yards against the Raiders, while Mahomes threw for 400. Hardman also was removed from return duty, even though his replacement wasn’t any better at holding on to the ball. There’s still a spot for Hardman to produce, but it’s a limited, gadget-type role. He might get loose against the Cowboys, but we should keep expectations low.
Mike Danna: Danna has been a good player for this Chiefs defense all season, but his lack of dynamic ability might be part of why the team brought in Ingram. Ingram has stood out in limited action, and his role figures to expand against the Cowboys and in the future. Danna is already down to 44% of the snaps, similar to Okafor, but he could see even less time going forward.
Demarcus Robinson: Another guy whose role might be on the decline is Robinson. He’s already getting out-snapped by Gordon and outproduced by Pringle. Those trends feel likely to continue in the coming weeks. This team might be rounding into form, with guys settling into their respective roles, Robinson might just be that No. 4 wide receiver that doesn’t see the field, and any production is incidental. Or, it could be that a different receiver unexpectedly produces each week.
Others trending in the wrong direction this week: Mike Hughes, Daniel Sorensen, Tershawn Wharton
Value (sleeper) pick
It’s still Josh Gordon.
When the Chiefs offense is humming along like it did last week, the need for another wide receiver is less apparent. But, there will come a game — perhaps even this week — in which another big target could be the difference between winning and losing. Andy Reid spoke about Gordon this week, and reports mentioned that the team was not unhappy with his progress so far. The safe money is on his emergence after the team’s bye next week. But the Cowboys do present the possibility of a shootout, so he may get on the board on Sunday.