The early surprise: The run defense has been better
The verdict: Real. The Chiefs are allowing 3.9 yards per rushing attempt, this after allowing almost a yard more per carry last season. But Nick Bolton and Willie Gay are giving the Chiefs better play from their full-time linebackers than they have been getting in years. They are also faster as a complete unit, allowing them to chase down plays that might have been out of their range before. — Adam Teicher
1 - Patrick Mahomes
There are no limitations in Mahomes’s game. Any criticism of him—which typically has something to do with his work out of structure—can be refuted with one simple question: “And then what happens?” Usually, it’s something good.
It’s hard to evaluate Mahomes using the rubrics we apply to other NFL quarterbacks because he is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. He doesn’t just read a defense; he feels it. And he isn’t bound by the mechanical constraints most quarterbacks are. Mahomes breaks all the rules because he can and the defense is powerless to stop him. Plus, it’s not as if Mahomes needs to improvise to put up big numbers. He is proficient at all of the “boring” stuff, too. He anticipates openings, sees through a progression, and rarely gets fooled by the defense. Sure, his accuracy could be a bit more consistent, and there is plenty of room for improvement in the pre-snap phase, but this is in comparison to the league’s elite class of passers. Calling them “weaknesses” would be unfair.
2 - Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 6
2022 stats: 2 games | 73 pct | 595 pass yds | 8 ypa | 7 pass TD | 0 INT | 4 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble
An up-and-down version of Mahomes remains finer than 99.99 percent of what Earth has to offer. He’s 22-3 against the AFC West, making the Chargers his latest victim despite a trio of turnover-worthy plays. Asante Samuel Jr. appeared to pick off the Chiefs’ quarterback on a would-be game-changing grab that was overturned by officials. A Nasir Adderley interception was conked out by an illegal contact penalty. Mahomes turned both of those fortunate tics into touchdown drives. His on-the-run scoring strike to Justin Watson feels meat and potatoes for Mahomes when it would stand out as the next guy’s season-long high point. His field awareness, sidearm spellcasting and unshakeable demeanor paint the picture of a quarterback at peace with his day job.
Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are a mess right now. They have a lot of injury issues, but it’s the offensive line that is a major concern. The Chiefs have rolled up impressive numbers on offense, and will do so here. Look for another good game from Patrick Mahomes as the Colts stay winless.
Pick: Chiefs 30, Colts 17
The Kansas City Pioneers have added another member of the Kansas City Chiefs to their roster of ambassadors and influencers. Trey Smith officially announced on Tuesday via a video on his Twitter account that he’d be joining the Pioneers esports organization.
“What’s up y’all, my name is Trey Smith, offensive guard for the Kansas City Chiefs,” Smith began. “I’m proud to be a new member of the KC Pioneers. I’m excited to partner with the KC Pioneers. If you know me, gaming is a huge part of who I am. I just want to bring more exposure to esports and gaming in my city.”
Smith isn’t kidding about video games being a big part of his identity. In one of his earliest press conferences with the Kansas City media back in May of 2021, Smith told reporters that he didn’t even watch the 2021 NFL draft. He was at his computer playing Rocket League the whole time.
The highest-graded defenders by position after Week 2 pic.twitter.com/hYJ6x1porR— PFF (@PFF) September 21, 2022
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Reason for hope: They started 1-4 last season and STILL should have made the playoffs.
A little less than a calendar year ago, the Colts were having to answer big questions about the state of the franchise following an 0-3 start (including an 0-2 mark at home), with the defense mostly to blame.
The reasons for this year’s 0-1-1 start might be slightly different, yet they’re just as frustrating. It’s hard to get shut out by the team that picked first in the draft this year (and suffer five sacks and three interceptions) and maintain a rosy disposition.
And yet, even with two gut-wrenching overtime losses to the Ravens and Titans later last season, the Colts found themselves at 9-6 on Christmas, with a playoff berth there for the taking. No, we can’t justify how they finished last season, which looked eerily similar to how this season is starting. But we also clearly can’t write off this one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans’ one-game suspension without pay was upheld by appeals officer James Thrash, the NFL announced Wednesday.
Evans will miss the Buccaneers’ home opener Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
Evans’ one-game suspension will cost him $62,222. His base salary is $1.12 million after he restructured his contract during the offseason.
The wide receiver was suspended Monday for his role in Sunday’s altercation with New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. He appealed the suspension and the hearing before Thrash, who is jointly appointed by both the NFL and the NFL Players Association, was held Tuesday.
As for the Raiders, they receive a developmental tackle that the coaching staff and front office are extremely familiar with thanks to their ties to New England. Not only is McDaniels now in Las Vegas, but he also brought offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo with him. Bricillo held that same title during his final season on Bill Belichick’s staff and has worked with Herron throughout his entire career. So, they know exactly what kind of player they are getting in this trade, while also not losing too much in terms of draft capital as late Day 3 picks are largely a dart throw anyways.
Herron also has two more years left on his rookie contract, so they’ll be able to bring him along for quite a while.
“He’s gotten a lot of rest since the last game,” Staley said. “He’s feeling more comfortable. I know that he was able to do some light throwing yesterday, some rotational work, but we’re just going to take it day by day and see where his comfort level is.”
Herbert did not throw any passes during the brief portion of practice open to reporters Wednesday. The third-year quarterback watched as backup quarterbacks Chase Daniel and Easton Stick took throwing reps.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Orlando Brown Jr.: Kansas City’s left tackle came into training camp late — and will end this season basically where he began it: with a franchise tag and a long-term contract negotiation looming. So he needs to have the kind of season that forces the Chiefs (or some other team) to pay him what he thinks he’s worth. The season opener wasn’t much of a test — but Week 2 against the likes of Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa in prime time? That’s the type of game that can get guys paid. Brown responded pretty well, allowing only two pressures, one quarterback hit and no sacks against the Los Angeles Chargers. In fact, over two games, he hasn’t allowed a sack. Meanwhile, Kansas City’s running backs are all finding some level of success behind Brown and his fellow linemen. Against the Colts, they’ll face a couple of other big-name pass rushers (Yannick Ngakoue and DeForest Buckner), but neither are likely to threaten Brown’s solid start. While his PFF grades haven’t caught up with him, a strong showing on Sunday should make us feel good about where Brown is headed.