MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
1 - Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · QB · +500
(16 votes: Battista, Bergman, Brandt, Goodbread, Grant, Hanzus, Jones-Drew, O’Hara, Parr, Pioli, Rank, Reuter, Rosenthal, Ross, Sessler, Shook)
20-0?: Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl odds: Chiefs +500
Wright’s thoughts: ”That’s gonna be the intrigue for the season. Can the Chiefs go 20-0? We know they have the best quarterback. They have the best coach ... best team in football.”
Mahomes’ career TD passes: 114
Mahomes’ career ranking: Tied for 121st
Mahomes’ best in a season: 50 touchdowns
Notable names ahead of Mahomes: Bernie Kosar (tied for No. 108, 124 TDs); Michael Vick (No. 103, 133 TDs); Hall of Famer Bart Starr (tied for No. 90, 152 TDs); Hall of Famer Roger Staubach (No. 89, 153 TDs); Jim Plunkett (tied for No. 77, 164 TDs); Hall of Famer Troy Aikman (No. 76, 165 TDs).
CBS Sports Staff Best Bets
Kansas City Chiefs +500
Prisco: The reason they lost to the Bucs in the last Super Bowl was because they couldn’t protect Patrick Mahomes. The upgrades on the offensive line will change that which is why the Chiefs will go back to the Super Bowl and win it it this time.
Dajani: The Chiefs are motivated to hoist the Lombardi Trophy again after being embarrassed by the Bucs in the big game last year. Tight end Travis Kelce told me this offseason that he wants the second Super Bowl more than the first, and Kansas City is built to win it all.
Dubin: The Chiefs are my pick to win the Super Bowl and I get 5-to-1 odds here, so I’ll take that.
Jones: It’s less than I’m picking against Tom Brady and more that I’m picking for Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs invested in their OL this offseason and looked like their usual selves in the final exhibition against the Vikings. I also like how they close with the Bengals and Broncos when their playoff spot could well be secured and could get a little more rest heading into the postseason.
Edwards: If I am getting plus money — even as the favorite — for the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl after falling short, I am taking it. It is not exactly going out on a limb but Kansas City upgraded the protection of Patrick Mahomes and that is all that tripped them up a year ago.
Kansas City Chiefs… The Chiefs are never going to be too far away from contention with $500 million quarterback Patrick Mahomes at the helm. Kansas City were stung by last season’s Super Bowl loss to Tampa and will be itching for revenge. But is their defense reliable enough?
Kansas City Chiefs
Shortest: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (5-foot-7)
Tallest: OT Orlando Brown (6-foot-8)
2020 record: 5-11
Odds to win AFC West: +600
If the Broncos had one big problem last year, it was their offense, which struggled, and that’s mostly because their quarterback struggled. The Broncos only averaged 20.2 points per game in 2020, which was the fifth-lowest total in the league. With Teddy Bridgewater taking over the starting job, the Broncos offense should be better. Their defense is a good enough to win a division title, but the big question is whether or not Bridgewater and the offense can keep up with teams like the Chiefs and Chargers. They couldn’t do that last year, which is a big reason why they went 1-5 in the division. The Broncos almost certainly will improve upon that division record, but the reason they’re not higher on this list is because they’re stuck in a division with the best team in the AFC.
4 - Rodney Hudson
Drafted: Round 2, No. 55 overall.
I’m still stunned the Raiders moved on from one of the best centers in football, trading him to a Cardinals team that desperately needed help at the position. Hudson has allowed just three sacks in the past six seasons, and he’s an outstanding communicator. With Hudson helping in pass protection, dynamic QB Kyler Murray should have an easier time staying upright than he did last season, when he was slowed by a shoulder injury.
Around the NFL
Odell Beckham Jr. (Browns)
Beckham was in the NFL’s best wide receiver discussions when he was traded from the Giants to the Browns for 2019 first- and third-round picks and safety Jabrill Peppers. He had career lows (when healthy) of 74 receptions, 1,035 receiving yards and three touchdown catches in 2019, his first season with Cleveland. Beckham tore the ACL in his left knee seven games into the 2020 season. He had 23 catches for 319 yards with three touchdowns prior to his knee injury. Beckham must develop better chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield to have a shot of regaining his status as an elite wide receiver this season. Otherwise, 2021 will likely be his last season in Cleveland.
“Like I’ve said all along, this is the place I want to be, this is the place I want to retire. Those feeling haven’t changed,” said Ertz, speaking for the first time publicly since an emotional news conference in January that came off as his farewell to Philadelphia. “I’m moving on from everything that happened this offseason. There have been apologies, there have been things that we’ve mended and, ultimately, I’m here, I’m excited to be here and I’m excited to be a member of this football team.”
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton underwent surgery to relieve a neck injury and will start the year on injured reserve, Colts general manager Chris Ballard told reporters Wednesday.
Ballard said that Hilton will return “sooner than later” and that the veteran already feels some relief after the procedure, per The Athletic. There was no precise timetable on Hilton’s return but he will stay on IR for at least three weeks.
It was already assumed that Hilton would miss the start of the season after injuring his neck in practice last week. The 31-year-old didn’t partake in any of the Colts’ preseason games.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Before the release of the initial roster, there had been a lot of speculation about how many tight ends Kansas City would keep on final cutdown day. Some believed that keeping four would be difficult — at least without negatively impacting other position groups.
But then, during Friday night’s preseason finale against the Minnesota Vikings, head coach Andy Reid called a play with four tight ends on the field — 14 Personnel, meaning one running back and four tight ends — which resulted in a touchdown pass to Bell. It sure looked like the Chiefs were seriously considering keeping all of them.
“We were committed to the four tight end process,” Veach confirmed. “But the combination of these guys earning it, Coach certainly having a plan to utilize these guys — and just knowing how hard they are to find — all played into the process.”
But Veach also acknowledged one other factor: his phone had been ringing since Friday night’s game ended.
“I also took three or four calls from teams asking about our tight ends over the weekend. So it became clear that [if they were waived], these guys weren’t making it through the claim period.”
Still... Veach was reluctant to say that particular factor ended up carrying much weight in the team’s decision.
“I don’t think it was a situation where we thought, ‘Well, they want these guys, so let’s keep them — because we can’t get them on the practice squad,’” he maintained.