Buccaneers at Patriots, Week 4 — The GOAT returns to where it all began in Tom Brady’s first showdown against his old team. Even with first-round pick Mac Jones likely starting at QB for New England, Brady is sure to receive a raucous homecoming from the Foxborough faithful as the Hoodied Genius plots to stop him. (Oct. 3, 6:20 p.m., NBC)
Bills at Chiefs, Week 5 — The AFC’s two top contenders meet in a rematch of last year’s championship game, won 38-24 by Kansas City. The Bills’ Josh Allen looks to take another gigantic leap following an MVP-caliber season in 2020, while cornerback Tre’Davious White and the Buffalo secondary face their biggest test of the year. (Oct. 10, 6:20 p.m., NBC)
Which team will win Super Bowl LVI?
11 votes · +500
Brian Baldinger: Chiefs over Buccaneers. With the sting of last year’s Super Bowl loss still weighing heavy, Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and Co. are on a mission. They blaze through the postseason and exact revenge on Tom Brady’s Bucs on the game’s biggest stage. This time, the Chiefs’ overhauled offensive line proves to be the difference.
Judy Battista: Chiefs over Packers. Aaron Rodgers finally gets back to the Super Bowl, but in a high-scoring game, the Packers can’t overcome a rebuilt offensive line protecting Patrick Mahomes.
Jeremy Bergman: Chiefs over Packers. This Super Bowl I rematch (same teams, same locale) will rival Eagles-Patriots for highest-scoring title game, with Patrick Mahomes running to the end zone — not for his life — capturing his second Lombardi in three tries.
Gil Brandt: Chiefs over Buccaneers. Unlike last year, Patrick Mahomes will be fully healthy and well protected. With an improved defense, too, the Chiefs avenge their Super Bowl LV loss to the Bucs.
1. Patrick Mahomes will be better
Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL — and the biggest reason why Kansas City is perennially a championship contender. The Chiefs quarterback continues to set records every time he touches the field, having the most pass yards (14,152), pass touchdowns (114), and highest passer rating (108.7) through a player’s first 46 starts in league history. The Chiefs have made the conference championship game in each of Mahomes’ three years as a starting quarterback and reached back-to-back Super Bowls.
Already an excellent quarterback, Mahomes had a bitter taste in his mouth after last year’s 31-9 defeat to the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. The Chiefs quarterback was pressured a record 29 times in that game, forcing him to try and make anything happen behind an offensive line that gave him no time to throw (more on that later). Mahomes discussed the improvements he’s made to his game this offseason to overcome this flaw — giving himself more time in the pocket before flushing out.
“For me, I’ll always try to stay within the pocket, especially during training camp,” Mahomes said last month. “I always feel like I can scramble, and that stuff can happen. We work on it, what can happen throughout a game, but working within the pocket and going through the reads and see how the play is working.”
Mahomes has strived on improving the fundamentals the last two years and found ways to be an even better quarterback since his MVP season in 2018. The Chiefs will be playing in Los Angeles come February because Mahomes continues to work on his game.
One of the Chiefs’ rookie starters on the offensive line was even recognized by Pro Football Focus for his performance during the preseason, earning preseason All-Rookie honors. That player was none other than second-round draft pick, Creed Humphrey.
Here is what PFF’s Michael Renner had to say about him:
“Humphrey was one of the most battle-tested centers in the draft, making his smooth transition unsurprising, to say the least. He earned a 75.6 run–blocking grade to go with an 83.7 pass-blocking grade. That looks even more impressive when you consider it came while running with the Chiefs starters.”
Even without the numbers from PFF, it’s hard not to come away impressed with Humphrey’s preseason performance. He didn’t allow a single sack during the preseason, let alone a single pressure. There were no snapping problems between him and Patrick Mahomes, despite being one of the only left-handed snappers in NFL history. Also, Humphrey’s athleticism was on display numerous times, getting out in space and making key blocks.
San Francisco 49ers (-7.5) at Detroit Lions (Over/Under 45.5)
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-6) (Over/Under 53)
Mitchell Schwartz (32)
One of the underrated tackles in the NFL for years, Schwartz is still a free agent after playing just six games last season because of a back injury. Schwartz has contemplated retirement, but has been rehabbing in hopes of a comeback.
Schwartz has allowed just eight sacks in his last 2,269 pass-blocking snaps (54 games) dating back to 2017. The former first-team All-Pro selection could be an option for Kansas City, even if the Chiefs have depth at tackle entering the year.
Around the NFL
Crowder’s vaccination status isn’t known, and that will likely help determine his availability. Players who are unvaccinated must sit a minimum of 10 days, according to league protocols. A player who is fully vaccinated can return after two negative tests 24 hours apart.
“It breaks my heart to hear of David’s tragic passing at such a young age,” Bill Belichick, Patten’s coach with the Patriots, said in a statement. “I am grateful to have coached David. He is an essential person and player in Patriots history, without whom we would not have been Super Bowl champions.
“I’m definitely ready. I’m excited,” he said after Friday’s practice in full pads. “I put in a lot of work to get to this point. Whether it was months ago, rehabbing the ankle, to the last few [weeks] keeping the feet working while I was letting my arm rest. There is so much work I put into this I’m just excited to go out there and be a part of the full game. Just being out there with my brothers and being able to do something I love.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead.
In recent years, the Chiefs have become so good that they have been scheduled for fewer and fewer games at Noon Arrowhead Time. But that acknowledged, there are still seven on the calendar this year (Week 3, Week 4, Week 6, Week 7, Week 13, Week 14 and Week 17). For those days, in particular, planning is paramount for the “homegate.”
Get your grocery (and grilling) shopping done and assign your guests items to bring, so you have options. Use that time in the morning to get that smoker started early, spruce up the house for guests to arrive — or if all that is done, roll out of bed with everything ready around 11 a.m.
Know your time and channels.
As mentioned, there are seven games in the upcoming season in which the Chiefs are scheduled for noon CT — but they are also in the late-afternoon slot and primetime five times apiece. With different game times come different television channels, so be sure to bookmark this link.
The advice is this — go into game day aware of what you plan to put on pregame, be it ESPN, NFL Network or KSHB 41 (home of the Chiefs) — and know when it is time to switch the television over to take in the game. Some folks like to turn down the volume on their sets and listen to Mitch Holthus. Mitch and the Chiefs Radio Network is available on 106.5 FM The Wolf.
A tweet to make you think
Man these college games got me so ready to be back in Arrowhead with the fans!!! #ChiefsKingdom— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) September 3, 2021