2. The Broncos have scored the second-most points in the NFL on opening drives.
Denver currently owns the No. 10 scoring offense in the NFL, but interestingly enough, 25 percent of their 107 total offensive points this year have been scored on opening possessions. In fact, the Broncos’ 27 points on opening possessions this season rank second in the NFL to only the San Francisco 49ers.
The Broncos have found the end zone on four of their five opening possessions this season, and in the lone game in which they didn’t score on their initial drive (Week 3 vs. Miami), Denver scored a touchdown on its second series.
It sets up a great matchup on Thursday against the Chiefs’ defense, which has yet to allow a single point on an opening possession this season. Additionally, Kansas City has allowed a grand total of 77 offensive yards to opponents on opening possessions this year, forcing four punts, two “three-and-outs” and a fumble.
The Chiefs are the only team in the NFL to hold the opposition under 22 points in all five games this season, and in terms of offensive points allowed, Kansas City has yet to yield more than 20 in a single contest.
1. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
He was perennially one of the best coaches in the NFL during his stop in Philadelphia. With help from Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs look a lot like the Patriots when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were together. But it’s not exactly the same, because Reid is an offensive mastermind at a point in NFL history where that’s most advantageous. Reid, at 65, is ahead of the curve, using rule changes to his advantage. He hasn’t lost touch with his players — he empowers them to design some of their own plays.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5)
The Broncos are 1-4 coming off a home loss to the Jets. They have defensive issues, which is never a good thing against Patrick Mahomes. The weather might be bad in this one, which would help Denver. But it doesn’t really matter. Look for the Chiefs to roll.
Pick: Chiefs 31, Broncos 13
MHR: What is the biggest area of concern for the Chiefs right now? From the outside, it appears that receiver is a liability for the KC offense. Is that accurate?
Tom: 100%. They’re just not producing. We’re getting flashes from players like Rashee Rice and Justin Watson. But it’s the other two guys that take the bulk of the snaps that concern me. MVS and Skyy Moore play just as many snaps as Watson and double what Rice does. — yet neither is producing at nearly a level that is good enough.
Preseason favorite Justyn Ross has looked dangerous when playing but he isn’t seeing the field nearly enough. Personally, I think the snaps are going to the wrong guys based on what we’ve seen so far.
Going forward I would love for the Chiefs to give Ross and Rice more snaps and relegate Moore and MVS to the bench. In a dream scenario, I would like for the Chiefs to trade for a receiving threat of any kind before the deadline. Kyle Pitts perhaps?!
IT’S NOT TOO late for Toney to become the player the Chiefs long envisioned. The Chiefs have seven wide receivers, but none has played consistently well this season. Tight end Travis Kelce is the team’s leading receiver.
In any case, the Chiefs have no receiver quite like Toney.
“He brings energy,” Kelce said. “I think his ability speaks for itself. He’s very quick, can put his foot in the ground with the best of them. And he’s special with the ball in his hands. He’s one of those guys where his awareness is crazy. You think he’s got eyes in the back of his head because he sees guys coming from different angles and stuff.
“He’s electric. ... He was that piece for us in the Super Bowl and he was that piece for us through the year last year.”
The NFLPA called the 2021 data an outlier, and players are becoming increasingly outspoken on this topic.
“It’s pretty simple: The numbers say that grass is healthier for the players,” Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “I want to play on the best surface that will keep me healthy.”
Green Bay Packers tackle David Bakhtiari said: “We already play a violent game, so why increase the risk?”
NFL officials don’t dispute the relevance of the data on playing surfaces but say it represents only a portion of a more holistic approach to reduce lower extremity injuries, one that includes better equipment, smarter training habits and better monitoring of exertion levels.
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Both Lawson and Hardman were healthy scratches in Week 5. Players in that type of situation are ripe for trades.
Lawson took a pay cut to remain in New York, then watched as his playing time was cut. After missing Week 1 due to a back injury, the edge rusher has played 52 total snaps, including 14 in Week 4 (20%). The Jets have a deep D-line, and Lawson is clearly squeezed out. Barring injury to the youngsters in front of him in the pecking order, Lawson seems unlikely to regain much of a role with Gang Green.
Hardman’s usage has been head-scratching. In four games, he caught one pass for six yards while playing a grand total of 22 snaps on offense. The decision to sign him to a one-year contract this offseason now has the look of a disconnect between the front office and coaching staff. Why sign a gadget player you’ll never use?
Hardman is limited but can be useful in the right offense. If the Jets aren’t going to play him, they might as well see if someone else will take a flier.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen said he’s “tired of hearing all this nonsense from people” regarding teammate Stefon Diggs’ emotions after a clip of the receiver throwing a tablet on the sideline went viral.
The televised incident happened with 5:40 remaining in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Diggs sat on the bench and slammed the tablet down before throwing it on the ground as he stood up.
“He’s a competitor; he’s a fiery competitor. I’m tired of hearing all this nonsense from people,” Allen said. “There’s a lot of guys in the league that have that same fire that don’t get talked about. He’s a lot of our juice on the sideline, making sure the offense is staying up and as energized as possible and we feed off of that.”
Having already arrived ahead of the Ravens’ Week 6 showdown with the Tennessee Titans, Jackson was taken aback by the realization that he has an international fanbase.
“I didn’t know until people recognized me,” Jackson said, via the team website. “I was like, ‘That’s crazy, I’m known in London?’ A few guys walked up to me, they were like, ‘Are your Lamar?’ in the London accent. I took a picture with those guys. It was fun.”
Jackson has done more than his share of crazy things on the gridiron, having emerged as one of the most dynamic quarterbacks to ever take to NFL soil. Now he’s set to play for the first time in England and he’s clearly excited about it.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Asked about Ross’ usage on Tuesday, head coach Andy Reid preferred to speak in generalities.
“The young guys seem to be getting better every day they have a chance,” he offered. “It’s just a matter of experience — and there’s one way of getting that: getting tossed in there and seeing how you do.”
While Reid acknowledged that Ross has put in a few reps he’d like to have back, the second-year wideout is still improving.
“Hopefully, he grows from that,” said Reid, “and keeps progressing like he has been.”
After spending his first Kansas City season on the Reserve/Injured list, the former Clemson wideout is working on understanding everything around him.
“It’s basically just understanding more than the scheme,” he noted. “Understanding the defense’s understanding — like, ‘Why is he here? And why is he [there]?’ Just understanding everything that goes on in the field.”
But there’s one thing he already understands: it will take some time to get comfortable with all of it.
“It’s gonna come as time goes,” he said. “I mean, just with more experience — and just seeing everything play out as fast as it does on the field. I feel like it’s going to get easier as time goes.”