Last week, we showed you an ESPN power ranking of NFL teams that had the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 1. We told you this was important because unlike many other power rankings, it wasn’t the opinion of just one writer. Instead, it was the result of a vote from ESPN’s 32 NFL beat writers.
In his weekly “Football Morning in America” column from Monday, NBC Sports’ Peter King published his 2021 offseason power ranking. While it is just his opinion, it’s one that carries more weight than most; he’s been covering the league for more than four decades — and is as well-informed about NFL teams as any national correspondent.
King agrees with the ESPN writers.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
This is such a well-coached, well-run team. I remember doing this list last year and trying to force myself to find any reason to pick another team number one after the Super Bowl win, and I couldn’t. Same after the Super Bowl loss now. KC lost to Tampa because the Bucs got on one of those can’t-stop-‘em rolls, but also because Andy Reid’s offensive line was tattered due to injury and opt-outs; Patrick Mahomes got sacked or pressured 29 times that day. So GM Brett Veach maneuvered the cap and signed/drafted/traded for a new offensive line (with the exception of returning tackle Mike Remmers). In Week 1, Orlando Brown/Joe Thuney/Austin Blythe/Kyle Long/Remmers should be a top 10 NFL offensive line—a vast improvement from number 32 at season’s end. Veach helped in another way: making Mahomes’ contract palatable. His cap number this year is only $7.4 million and I would expect the Chiefs to convert compensation in 2022 and maybe 2023 into a signing bonus so it can be prorated and keep cap numbers in those years low as well. By the time the huge Mahomes chunks start coming two or three years from now, Veach is gambling that the cap will be back to its pre-pandemic annual increases. And Kansas City (31-7 over the last two years) should keep rolling.
We would disagree with King about the final makeup of the Chiefs’ offensive line — for one thing, we think that rookie Creed Humphrey has a strong chance to start at center — but King’s experience likely leads him to believe that veterans are a safer bet than rookies in this kind of situation. It’s also possible that King — who is well-known to have a solid relationship with Kansas City head coach Andy Reid — may know something that we don’t.
But King correctly identifies the primary reasons the Chiefs lost the Super Bowl — and notes that the team has taken the proper steps to correct the biggest one. And we would agree that an offensive line of Brown/Thuney/Blythe/Long/Remmers would be an improvement over the one the Chiefs fielded to close the season — and with which they still made it to the championship.
There’s a long way to go before Week 1. But King’s ranking is another indicator that the Chiefs have navigated their offseason very well — and will continue to be a contending team in 2021.