Any team with a healthy Patrick Mahomes can overcome roster flaws or shortcomings to make a Super Bowl run, but this Kansas City bunch is not just a one-man show. The team has done an excellent job of replenishing the roster from the bottom up, thanks to some recent quality draft classes and smart free-agent additions.
There are questions at wide receiver again, but there’s hope the group can develop, even after losing JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a solid performer, while Kadarius Toney could be in line for a breakout season after being sprinkled into the offense as a gadget guy last year. Skyy Moore showed some flashes down the stretch, second-rounder Rashee Rice is intriguing and even Justyn Ross is a wild-card possibility.
8. Chiefs (AFC West)
2022 record: 14-3 | Division title streak: 7 seasons
It really doesn’t matter what else occurs around the West — the Broncos have a fiercer leader in Sean Payton and should revert to the run-based concepts that benefitted Russell Wilson earlier in his career, the Chargers have a laser-armed face of the franchise in Justin Herbert and the Raiders made lateral swaps to import Josh McDaniels’ old Patriots friends. At the end of the day, as long as Patrick Mahomes is playing QB for Andy Reid and Travis Kelce is lining up as his top target, the Chiefs cannot be bet against.
Kansas City Chiefs
Most anticipated matchup: Week 4 at New York Jets (Sunday Night Football)
A year ago, some in the NFL media world were throwing dirt on the Chiefs, saying the rest of their AFC West competition (the Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Broncos) improved enough to overtake them while they regressed after losing in the AFC Championship Game to the Bengals and All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill departing to the Miami Dolphins. No one is making that mistake again this offseason, but the addition of Aaron Rodgers to the Jets created another potential road block for Kansas City in the AFC.
Patrick Mahomes, the reigning NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP, has stated multiple times throughout his career that Rodgers was his football idol, and this game represents the first time they will be playing against each other in a game. Mahomes missed the first opportunity in 2019 with an injury while Rodgers missed the second chance in 2021 when he tested positive for COVID-19. A battle between the Jets’ top-five defense and Mahomes while Rodgers showcases how high he can lift New York’s young playmakers is one of the best games on the league’s 2023 slate.
Kansas City Chiefs: OT Jawaan Taylor
As Kansas City comes off of another Super Bowl victory, protecting Patrick Mahomes remains chief priority. That led to the signing of Taylor in free agency. Will he play right tackle, where he has spent much of his career, or left tackle to replace the departed Orlando Brown Jr.? Taylor, who played four seasons for the Jaguars, aims to answer that question this offseason.
Kansas City Chiefs: WR Rashee Rice
For the second straight offseason, the Chiefs have lost their top wideout. They traded Tyreek Hill last year and went on to win Super Bowl LVII with JuJu Smith-Schuster as their top perimeter target. Smith-Schuster then left for the New England Patriots in free agency.
Kansas City has been able to thrive with a rotating supporting cast because it has head coach Andy Reid, an offensive guru, and MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. There will be a new No. 1 receiver this season, and the results could easily be the same.
Though the Chiefs did add veteran Richie James, rookie second-round pick Rashee Rice is best suited to take the mantle from Smith-Schuster. He’s a big (6’1”, 204 lbs), physical receiver who can fill a variety of roles in Reid’s offense.
“For more creative teams, Rice’s bully-ball YAC skills and alignment flexibility will make him a nifty weapon to move around the formation,” Klassen wrote.
At SMU last season, Rice logged 1,355 yards and 10 touchdowns. He probably won’t approach those numbers as a rookie, but he can quickly become Kansas City’s second-biggest mismatch behind tight end Travis Kelce.
Around the NFL
The NFL’s smallest city isn’t big enough to host a Super Bowl, but it is getting the next best thing.
The league announced Monday that the 2025 NFL draft will be held in Green Bay, Wisconsin, population 107,395.
This has been nearly a decade in the making. Packers president Mark Murphy first revealed in 2016 that the team combined with local government and tourism officials to put in a bid to host the draft in as early as 2019. There had been concerns about whether the Green Bay area had enough infrastructure, including hotels and convention space, to host such a large-scale event.
Since then, efforts were ramped up with additional construction around Lambeau Field and the Titletown District to add more hotels, restaurants and exhibition space. Green Bay was one of three finalists to host the 2024 draft, which was awarded last to Detroit last March.
At the Spring League Meeting on Monday, NFL owners approved the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium as the host site of Super Bowl LX in 2026.
Levi’s Stadium, located in Santa Clara, California, will host its second Super Bowl since opening in 2014.
“The Bay Area was an incredible host for Super Bowl 50, and we are thrilled to bring the Super Bowl back,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement on Monday. “We look forward to working with the 49ers and the Bay Area Host Committee to create an impactful Super Bowl LX in 2026 that showcases all the great things the region has to offer.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Despite the direct competitive disadvantage that could go along with it and the disapproval of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs were among 24 teams that voted to approve flexible scheduling for “Thursday Night Football” on Monday afternoon at the spring meetings in Minneapolis, according to several reports.
There are further rules that go along with a flex to Thursday night, such as 28 days advanced notice — and no team playing two Thursday night games on the road. Only two total games can be flexed to Thursday night all season, and a flex to Thursday can only occur between Weeks 13 and 17.
Considering that window, it is highly unlikely Kansas City will be flexed to “Thursday Night Football” during the 2023 regular season. The Chiefs are already scheduled for primetime games in Weeks 13 and 15, and their Week 16 game is the first of a tripleheader on Christmas Day. That only leaves Week 14 (Bills) and Week 17 (Bengals) — and we’ve talked in detail on these pages about CBS protecting both matchups in the late-afternoon slot.
A tweet to make you think
Raiders’ owner Mark Davis told ESPN’s @PGutierrezESPN: “We have come to an agreement for Tom Brady to become a partner in the Raiders and we have submitted it to the NFL for approval. We’re excited for Tom to join the Raiders.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 22, 2023
More coming soon on https://t.co/rDZaVFhKto.