(3) Kansas City Chiefs (11-6): They followed up their last Super Bowl victory, following the 2019 season, with another AFC title in 2020. That could certainly happen again, and maybe the Chiefs even become the first team to successfully go back to back in 19 years. But the impediments will be many. As previously noted, the conference is nasty. A first-place schedule that includes the entire AFC East is forbidding. Reigning MVP QB Patrick Mahomes will be playing in front of a pair of new tackles (Donovan Smith, Jawaan Taylor). OC Eric Bieniemy is also off to Washington, though Matt Nagy returns to the role he had when Mahomes was a rookie in 2017. Speaking of 2017, that’s the last time K.C. won fewer than 12 games – Mahomes only started once that year – so I may be selling the Chiefs short even in a year when they have to play at Jacksonville, at New Jersey (against the Jets), in Germany (against the Dolphins) and catch the Bills coming off their bye and the Bengals on a short week.
Perimeter wide receiver
First team: Rashee Rice, Chiefs
Second team: Jordan Addison, Vikings
Honorable mention: Jonathan Mingo, Panthers
Rice is a ferocious, amped-up YAC specialist with the optimal “RB-like” frame that lends itself to low-center-of-gravity power and exceptional contact balance. While Rice’s compact build — 6-foot and 1/2 inches and 204 pounds — is not inherently conducive to jump-ball dominance, his leaping ability, concentration, and rugged hands lead to surprisingly steady play in those situations vital to success as an outside receiver in today’s NFL. I, of course, trust the masterful duo of Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes to maximize Rice’s talents in Year 1.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
All hail Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs—the NFL’s newest dynasty.
The Chiefs have hosted the AFC Championship Game every year that Mahomes has been their starting quarterback. They’ve played in three of the last four Super Bowls, winning two.
Mahomes—who doesn’t turn 28 until mid-September—thinks the Chiefs are only getting started.
“I think the thing this year is how we can keep building?” he told reporters. “Obviously, we won the Super Bowl last year and it was amazing, but we still have a lot of young guys, and we want to continue to get better and better. You look around the AFC, everyone has gotten better. So, you want to continue to build and build and not be satisfied with what we did last year and see if we can take that next step.”
“Are the Chiefs the best team in the league on paper? No,” Davenport said. “There are genuine questions at wide receiver, turnover on the offensive line and the defense has some holes. But the Chiefs have at least two things going for them.
“In Mahomes, they have the NFL’s best quarterback—and possibly one of the best the league has ever seen. In Andy Reid, they have the NFL’s best coach. So long as that duo is together, betting against the Chiefs isn’t a good idea.
“You wanna be the best and sit atop these power rankings? You gotta beat the best. And the Lions aren’t doing that in the season opener.”
Kansas City Chiefs
Who will be the backup quarterback?
The Chiefs enter camp with most of their starting spots already secured, making the position battles at the second line of the depth chart most intriguing. Chad Henne, a cult hero in the franchise’s history, retired. Henne’s replacement could be Blaine Gabbert, a 12-year veteran. But Gabbert will be in a battle with Shane Buechele, the second-year player who is in his third year in Andy Reid’s system. Buechele could earn the top backup role if he has a better preseason than the statistics he produced last year: 31 completions on 51 attempts for 335 passing yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. — Nate Taylor
Is Kadarius Toney a No. 1 WR?
The Chiefs have long held the belief Toney could be a top wideout. They wanted to get into position to draft him when he came out in 2021 and tried trading for him in the spring of 2022 before finally getting the job done halfway through last season. But those are heavy expectations for a player who missed time in each of his two NFL seasons because of injuries and has a total of 55 catches. (And he already missed the first practice after he ”tweaked” a knee Sunday.) It’s a big jump, but the Chiefs declined to add a prominent veteran receiver during the offseason in part because of their belief in Toney.
9. Johnny Robinson
Johnny Robinson was a great free safety who played his entire career with the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs from 1960 to 1971. He was selected to the AFL’s All-Time Team. He was also recognized as a member of the All-Decade Team of the 1960s. Robinson ended his career with 57 interceptions. Get this: The Chiefs record was 35-3-1 in games when he had an interception.
In Super Bowl IV, the Chiefs’ first Super Bowl victory, Robinson started and had a fumble recovery and an interception. Call me an AFL/AFC guy, but I’m putting Robinson in instead of Willie Wood, Robinson’s contemporary from the Packers and Super Bowl I opponent.
Around the NFL
“The parties to the incident which occurred on June 18th, 2023 at the Haulover Marina involving Tyreek Hill have resolved their differences,” Evan Feldman, the attorney for an employee of Kelley Fleet Inc., and Julius Collins, the attorney for Hill, said in a joint statement provided to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
According to WPLG-TV in Miami, Hill allegedly hit a marina employee during a “disagreement” that Sunday. Miami sports radio show host Andy Slater reported that Hill slapped the employee on the back of the head but said the person declined to press charges at the time.
Hines suffered a significant knee injury off-site and is expected to miss the entire upcoming season, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported on Monday, per sources informed of the situation.
Pelissero reported Hines was sitting stationary on a jet ski and was struck by another rider, sustaining a serious but non-life threatening injury. Pelissero adds that Hines suffered an ACL injury in his left knee and surgery is likely to occur this week.
The Las Vegas Raiders signed three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters on Monday to help upgrade their secondary.
Terms were not disclosed but, according to multiple reports, Peters received a one-year contract.
The 30-year-old Peters, a seven-year veteran who missed the 2021 season with a torn ACL, was a free agent for the first time and is coming off a career-low one interception last season for the Baltimore Ravens. But his 32 career picks are 26 more than the rest of the Raiders’ cornerbacks combined.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Years from now, few will remember a pivotal moment in one of just three losses during Kansas City’s championship season. It’s a lot more likely that people will recall what happened at the end of the AFC Championship against the Cincinnati Bengals. With the score tied at 20 — and with just 39 seconds left in the game — Moore turned in his longest punt return of the season: a 29-yarder that set the stage for the Harrison Butker field goal that sent the Chiefs to Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But after Monday’s training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Moore acknowledged that the punt return against the Bengals sparked his confidence coming into the 2023 season — and revealed that even though special teams coordinator Dave Toub has said the team intends to try other players as punt returners this season, he’ll still be in that mix.
“I’m not going to stop,” Moore told reporters. “I really haven’t had a deep conversation with [Toub] about that. But he definitely has me [going] back there [and] catching them every practice. So I’ll still be back there for sure — like at least the practice room.”