The way the Chiefs are built around Mahomes, they just need their defense to be competent to be in position to win the Super Bowl. And this group, directed by veteran defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, should easily clear that bar.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones, currently holding out for a new contract, is one of the NFL’s most disruptive linemen, and edge defender George Karlaftis is coming off a promising rookie season. The Chiefs are good at linebacker with Nick Bolton and Willie Gay, and deep at corner with a number of young players who gained valuable experience last year.
The Chiefs finished 17th in defensive DVOA in 2022, when they had six different rookies play at least 250 defensive snaps. There’s significant upside with this group, especially if those young players improve. But I’ve got them at around the same level as last season. This ranking assumes that Jones will be back early in the season. If he’s not, I think I’d drop the Chiefs six to eight spots. Jones is that much of a difference maker.
Zarda Bar-B-Q and Hy-Vee will offer L’Jarius Sneed’s “The KC Takeaway” for a second year.
The barbecue sandwich features thin-sliced ham, burnt ends, pulled pork, melted pepper jack cheese and Sneed’s favorite Zarda sauce — all on a toasted Roma bun.
The KC Takeaway will be available starting Wednesday at both Zarda locations in Blue Springs and Lenexa, as well as 20 Kansas City-area Hy-Vee locations starting Sept. 6.
The sandwich will be available throughout the entire Chiefs season.
The best part? A portion of all proceeds from the KC Takeaway will benefit Sneed’s Turn the Corner for Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles bolstered a defense that already ranked No. 2 in the league last year in yards allowed by drafting a pair of Georgia stars fresh off back-to-back national championship runs. They selected a potential generational talent in Jalen Carter at No. 9 overall and then bolstered their linebacking corps by nabbing Nolan Smith with the penultimate pick of the first round.
Those two could help neutralize a Kansas City offense that lost its top receiver in JuJu Smith-Schuster, but is expected to rely more heavily on young wideouts Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore in addition to rookie second-rounder Rashee Rice 2023.
While each squad brought in some intriguing prospects and made minor changes in free agency, the stars of their Super Bowl rematch would remain the same. The quarterback duel would once again take center stage after it more than met expectations last season.
Jalen Hurts proved to be a worthy adversary for reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes by making a statement in his Super Bowl debut, throwing for over 300 yards and a score while adding a whopping three touchdowns and 70 yards on 15 carries. The Eagles signal-caller should be hungry to avenge a painful loss, especially after his critical lost fumble led to a decisive Kansas City defensive touchdown.
Kansas City Chiefs (defeated Cleveland Browns 33-32)
The good: Justyn Ross is ready for liftoff. He showcased his ability to go up and win on contested catches with this three-yard touchdown catch on a fade route. Ross was once thought to be a first-round pick, but injuries have hampered his career. Now, he looks ready to contribute in a Chiefs offense with plenty of opportunity given their lack of established receivers.
Now, the model has simulated Chiefs vs. Lions 10,000 times and just revealed its coveted NFL picks and predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see the model’s picks. Here are several NFL odds and betting lines for Lions vs. Chiefs:
Chiefs vs. Lions spread: Kansas City -6.5
Chiefs vs. Lions over/under: 54 points
Chiefs vs. Lions money line: Kansas City -286, Detroit +230
KC: Chiefs have scored 30 or more points in an NFL-record seven straight season-openers
DET: Lions have lost seven consecutive meetings with defending Super Bowl champions
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, Toney suffered a knee injury on the first day of full-team training camp back in July. Now a month-plus removed from the ailment, though, the club is growing more and more positive in its outlook on him potentially being available for Week 1. Reid said on Saturday that Toney was “doing great,” and James Palmer of NFL Network reported on Monday that Kansas City shares the same optimism:
“I’m told, Andrew (Siciliano), there’s some optimism that he’s going to be able to go for the Kansas City Chiefs in this opener to start the regular season against the Detroit Lions. Now remember, he partially tore that meniscus at the start of training camp and hasn’t done anything since. At the start of this offseason, they made it very clear that he was their clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver heading into the 2023 season. But he has missed all of this time with that knee injury.
“This week, I’m told, is going to be very important. They think he’s doing great in terms of his recovery but how he practices this week would be big. Now if he’s limited in any capacity at the start of the regular season, the good thing is the Chiefs are very deep at the wide receiver spot. They think in year two of this system, with MVS (Marquez Valdes-Scantling) and Skyy Moore, they both made a big jump in year two.
“And also, they believe Justyn Ross has had a very good camp. Remember him shining early in his career at Clemson before some foot issues? They believe their medical staff have done a very good job with him, and they’re expecting some big things from Justyn Ross and obviously the rookie Rashee Rice as well.”
Around the NFL
A 2022 second-round pick by the Bills (61st overall), the 6-foot-3, 281-pound Basham has 4.5 sacks over two seasons. He has played in 23 regular season games.
The Giants got Basham and a 2025 seventh-round pick in exchange for a 2025 sixth-round pick.
Basham, 25, could play as a hand-in-the-ground defensive end or as a standup edge defender for the Giants. He adds depth to a group where I had only Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward and Tomon Fox predicted to make the 53-man roster. In 2022, Pro Football Focus shows Basham as having played the majority of his 291 defensive snaps as a standup edge defender.
The Patriots weren’t done shaking up their QB room on Tuesday’s deadline for teams to reduce their rosters to 53 as they also waived rookie QB/WR Malik Cunningham, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported. The two moves leave New England currently with one QB on its roster: starter Mac Jones.
The Indianapolis Colts did not trade Jonathan Taylor on Tuesday after not finding what they felt was a fair-value offer for their All-Pro running back, sources told ESPN.
With no trade materializing Tuesday, Taylor remains on the physically unable to perform list, making him ineligible to play in at least the first four games of the season.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Running backs (3): Isiah Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jerick McKinnon
With the Chiefs keeping seven wide receivers and 10 offensive linemen — which we will get to in a minute — Veach had to borrow spots from other position groups. The running back and tight end rooms kept three players apiece. In the running back room, young up-and-comers Deneric Prince and La’Mical Perine were waived — as was Jerrion Ealy, who signed on with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent following the 2022 NFL Draft. I think all three have a shot at the practice squad. Kansas City keeping Edwards-Helaire — a popular hypothetical trade candidate — speaks volumes. Especially earlier in the season — when the Chiefs budget snaps for McKinnon — expect Edwards-Helaire to garner touches as the change-of-pace back.
The end of an era is now official.
Wide receivers (7): Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson, Richie James, Rashee Rice, Justyn Ross
In my preseason projection, I assumed that Ross would be on the outside looking in simply because the Chiefs had never kept seven wide receivers at the deadline since Reid took the helm in 2013. But Ross’ talent won out — and history was made on Tuesday afternoon. We now wait for an update on the health of Toney, who hasn’t been seen at practice since the opening minutes of training camp. Reports continue to say that Kansas City remains optimistic about Toney’s Week 1 status.
A tweet to make you think
The immediate juxtaposition in the Super Bowl between Jimmy’s missed throw to Emmanuel Sanders and Mahomes hitting Tyreek from four blocks behind the line of scrimmage is really what changed the course of everything.— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) August 29, 2023
I think it directly lead to Kyle and John doing the trade up. https://t.co/eAmNOXJse4