On Monday’s mailbag edition of Arrowhead Pride’s Out of Structure podcast, we answered your questions from Twitter — but before that, we made up our own over/under totals for the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2021 regular season.
We each predicted over or under on every topic, then made our predictions on who will be the team’s Derrick Thomas Award winner — the team MVP — and who will win the Mack Lee Hill award — the team’s rookie of the year.
You’ll have to listen to the episode to get our picks, plus our predictions for the team’s regular-season record. However, I chose four of the over/under props and explained each of our picks here:
Over/Under: 39.5 passing touchdowns by Patrick Mahomes
As much as I believe Mahomes will have an incredible, MVP-level season, I think two factors will keep him from reaching 40 passing touchdowns: an improved run game in the red zone and the success of the Chiefs’ defense.
I am confident that the team’s ability to convert by running in short-yardage situations will lead to more rushing touchdowns from the running back unit. I also believe the defense will stifle opponents enough to where the passing offense won’t need to be at the volume it takes to throw 40 touchdowns.
While the improved offensive line will help the run game, it’s important to acknowledge that it will possibly give Mahomes the most time and the best pockets he’s had in his career.
That means more opportunities for big passing plays, which can quickly turn into touchdowns with receivers like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman. I think he finishes around 45 passing touchdowns in 2021.
Over/Under: 15.5 sacks by Chris Jones
I’m hammering the over here. The Chris Jones we saw dominate training camp and the preseason will be motivated to set a new career-high in sacks — which is 15.5 from 2018.
The extra game will help, but I also think the improved supporting cast around him on the defensive line will allow him more opportunities to rack up sacks.
Even with an improved defensive line around Jones, he is still by far the biggest threat of the group — and offensive lines will still key in on him to double team and prevent from entering the backfield.
That said, give me the over. Jones has had a solid offseason, and the extra game allows him to get over that career-high mark.
Over/Under: 9.5 total touchdowns by Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Like the point I made about Mahomes’ number of passing touchdowns, I believe the improved offensive line will aid Edwards-Helaire in scoring double-digit touchdowns in 2021.
On top of that, Edwards-Helaire should be ready to take on a larger role in the offense in his second season. An uptick in his involvement in the passing offense should help him get enough chances at the end zone to reach 10.
I’ve been as high as anyone on Edwards-Helaire’s chances of breaking out in his sophomore season, but I think he barely fails to reach the double-digit mark in touchdowns.
His backfield mates will get their share of carries: Darrel Williams’ big frame might be utilized in the red zone to punch in runs from a yard or two out. Plus, Jerick McKinnon looks like a legitimate part of the offense and has the chance to take away receiving opportunities from Edwards-Helaire.
Over/Under: 3.5 interceptions by L’Jarius Sneed
In the two years defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has been with the Chiefs, the highest number of interceptions any player — not named Tyrann Mathieu — has earned in a single season is three. Sneed had that many last season in nine games.
While Sneed looks more talented than many defensive backs over the two years, he’s a more well-known commodity in 2021. I believe offenses will attempt to target other members of the Chiefs’ secondary over Sneed. Plus, his blitzing ability on passing downs will be utilized — naturally taking away chances for picks.
Sneed is a ball hawk. He came right out of the gate last season with two interceptions in his first two career games before the injury. He’s really going to be involved in this defense; he’ll be the guy this year.
He gets at least four interceptions in 2021, and I’d argue he gets that many sacks as well. He just makes game-changing plays.
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