Kansas City Chiefs, Over 12.5 wins
Peyton Manning had (overly) well-documented struggles as a rookie. After that, however, his teams ripped off double-digit wins in 11 of the next 12 seasons until 2011, when he was injured and subsequently released.
Manning is perhaps the greatest regular-season football player we have ever seen … which leads me to the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes.
It’s simple, it’s maybe square, but betting against the Chiefs to win 13-plus games is basically betting on Mahomes to get hurt and miss a chunk of the season.
A healthy Mahomes, like a healthy Peyton Manning, gives any decent team a floor of 13-4 (this 17th game is totally botching my vernacular). Andy Reid and the Chiefs have quietly rebuilt the offensive line and will undoubtedly be motivated and focused coming off their Super Bowl shellacking. Joe Thuney, Kyle Long and Orlando Brown were added to beef up an offensive line that was overwhelmed by the Buccaneers’ pass rush in the Super Bowl. As long as Mahomes is healthy, it’s hard to see five teams capable of outscoring the potent Chiefs.
Having the best player at the most important position, a plethora of dynamic weapons and a great play-caller is a recipe for another monster regular season.
Kansas City Chiefs
Led by sensational quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs have gone to the AFC Championship three years in a row, including two straight Super Bowl appearances. They’re understandably projected to finish with double-digit wins and are the early favorites to win the Conference yet again. The AFC is getting better however, and Kansas City has some tough games on the schedule.
Key matchups: Ravens, Bills, Titans, Packers
Strength of Schedule: 11th hardest
Safety: Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City Chiefs
The most dominant safeties force takeaways, make stops and occasionally apply pressure on blitzes. Tyrann Mathieu checks all of those boxes, and on most plays, he’s near the football.
The Kansas City Chiefs utilize Mathieu’s coverage skills in a variety of ways. He can match up against receivers in the slot, patrol shallow zones and play center field as a deep safety.
In two All-Pro seasons with the Chiefs, Mathieu has become a ball magnet, recording 10 interceptions and 21 pass breakups.
Though Mathieu plays at 5’9”, 190 pounds, he’s one of the most cerebral safeties in the league. Opposing quarterbacks must know his whereabouts post-snap, or else he’ll create an opportunity to make a play.
Mathieu’s versatility makes him a more impactful safety than Minkah Fitzpatrick, who also handled multiple roles with the Miami Dolphins in 2018. Since joining the Pittsburgh Steelers in September 2019, the latter has primarily served as a free safety. Mathieu’s ability to play at a high level with multiple responsibilities elevates him above his peers at the position.
TE Travis Kelce (Chiefs)
Kelce is still the top tight end in the NFL — regardless of age. Here’s what I said about Kelce after ranking him the No. 1 tight end entering 2021:
“It wasn’t the speedy Tyreek Hill, it was actually Kelce who has led the Kansas City Chiefs in receiving over the past two years. Blocking, catching, creating the big play, saving the broken play — Kelce can basically do it all. A big reason he tops our list is because he just doesn’t slow down. Even after four straight seasons of posting more than 1,000 yards receiving, Kelce turned in his best campaign ever in 2020. In 15 games last year, he caught 105 passes for a record-breaking 1,416 yards and 11 touchdowns. All three figures set career highs. Kelce then took his game to another level in the postseason, as he caught 31 passes for 360 yards and three touchdowns in three games. He set the record for most receptions in a conference championship game with 13, and passed Rob Gronkowski for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single-season in NFL history including playoffs.”
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
QB Patrick Mahomes
WR Tyreek Hill
DI Chris Jones
Being forced to leave off Travis Kelce, who will turn 32 years old next season, and the 29-year-old Tyrann Mathieu shows just how much high-end talent resides on this Kansas City roster.
Mahomes is the premier building block in the NFL, in a tier of his own atop the quarterback position at just 25 years old. He has been worth over a win more than any quarterback since 2018, according to PFF WAR, and he’s only improving. Pairing his arm with the league’s best deep threat is a big part of what makes Kansas City’s offense so difficult to defend. Hill’s 19 touchdown receptions on passes 20-plus yards downfield over the past three seasons are six more than any other wide receiver.
On the other side of the ball, Jones has been the league’s best interior pass rusher not named Aaron Donald in recent years. His 19.6% pass-rush win rate is over three percentage points higher than the third-place interior defender (Fletcher Cox) since 2018.
Ultimate Gunslingers: These Guys are Proven, Baller-Shot Callers.
Aaron Rodgers/ Patrick Mahomes
These are just the guys who are so good by themselves. They are the reason their team wins games and the only thing that holds them back is their team. It’s hard to argue with but you can exchange these guys and put them on any other roster and they would automatically win more games for that team.
Perez had a solid night, though. With 28 home runs on the evening, Perez posted the second-highest total in the first round (sans tiebreakers) to only Alonso, who posted a whopping 35 home runs. He also had a long home run of 491-feet.
Mahomes quote tweeted the Royals response to the performance by Perez, adding his own response:
“Dude went crazy!!”
The Chiefs are currently slated to start Taco Charlton and the massively overrated Frank Clark at one of the most important positions in football. A huge upgrade would be pretty useful here, but Kansas City doesn’t have the money or the necessary draft capital to make that happen. Instead, the Chiefs should settle for Barnett.
Barnett has never lived up to his first-round selection, but he’s a decent player. The former Tennessee Volunteer has shown flashes of great pass rush ability but is often hurt by his less-than-stellar run defense. Putting him in a committee role with the other edge defenders on the Chiefs could be a perfect match for both sides.
Barnett’s name has been on the rumor mill for a while now, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to entice the Philadelphia Eagles into a trade. Edge rusher is a premium position, so the cost would likely be a mid-round pick.
The top 4 players remain unchanged in the unofficial rankings.
Jared Allen, Chris Jones and Bill Maas drop out of the top 10 leaderboards with the addition of pre-1982 sacks.
Three players from the Super Bowl LV team (Buck Buchanan, Jerry Mays and Aaron Brown) all have moved into the top 10 leaderboards.
Around the NFL
Former Denver Broncos offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, a key part of the staff that helped the Broncos win back-to-back Super Bowls in the late 1990s, has died, the team announced. He was 80 years old.
The team said Gibbs died from complications from a stroke and was surrounded by his family in Phoenix.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Alex Gibbs, who had a profound impact on the Denver Broncos and the National Football League as an offensive line coach. During his 14 years with the Broncos, Coach Gibbs left a lasting legacy on this league with his innovative blocking schemes and outstanding teaching ability. He helped the Broncos to Super Bowls during three different decades — including back-to-back World Championships — while forging a reputation as one of the greatest assistant coaches in NFL history,” the team said in a statement.
“Our hearts go out to Alex’s wife, Trina, and the entire Gibbs family as well as Alex’s many former players and fellow coaches.”
Los Angeles introduced its alternate top, which it termed the “modern throwback,” on Tuesday:
Contradictory title aside, this jersey is gorgeous. The Rams turned back to their lengthy history of playing with horns on their sleeve caps — an element that was notably missing from their redesign last year (more on that later) — by returning the horns to the caps in a bold, but familiar fashion. This accomplishes the “throwback” portion of the name of the new jersey, while the elements first introduced in 2020 carry over to this jersey, checking the “modern” box in the process.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Before digging deeper into their impact, I’ll lay the foundation with how statistically productive these players were in 2020. These are regular season statistics.
Danna had the fourth-most sacks on the team last season with 2.5 — a half-sack shy of Alex Okafor in third place. He totaled 25 tackles, four tackles for loss and six quarterback hits. He played 31.1% of the snaps on defense.
Wharton was tied for the fifth-most sacks on the team with two. He also racked up 27 tackles, four tackles for loss and four quarterback hits. He played 48.2% of the defensive snaps.
PFF’s pass-rush win rate is the “percentage of ‘wins’ vs blocking on non-penalty pass rush snaps.” Danna had a rate of 10% — two tenths shy of Frank Clark’s season percentage. Wharton’s win percentage was 8.6%, which led all interior defensive linemen besides Chris Jones.
A tweet to make you think
Arrowhead Pride adds seven new contributors to its team: https://t.co/XmwIwwwMsE— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) July 13, 2021
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