On Sunday, they’ll host an opponent who is going through some turmoil both on (and off) the field. The Week 3 matchup against the Chicago Bears should be a get-right game for a Chiefs’ offense that has struggled through much of the first two games. Meanwhile, the Kansas City defense has been pretty dominant — so if the offense can stop shooting itself in the foot, this game shouldn’t be close.
Still, knowing the Chiefs, something strange could happen on Sunday afternoon. Just the same, here are the Kansas City players we believe are trending.
EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah: The Chiefs’ first-round rookie got his first NFL (half) sack against the Jaguars — but throughout the preseason (and the first two games), his progress has been evident. The Kansas City pass rush is starting to look like the unit that ranked second in the league last season — and with defensive tackle Chris Jones back in the fold, everyone is benefiting. But Anudike-Uzomah’s skill set — specifically, his ability to bend and fly around the edge — is one that is unique to the team. He’s already logged four pressures on just 28 rushes. He’s going to get better every week — and against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, Chicago gave up six sacks. This could be a game where the Lee’s Summit High School graduate starts getting more national attention.
Linebacker Drue Tranquill: Nick Bolton has been declared out of Sunday’s game with an injury — which means the former Los Angeles Chargers linebacker is likely to get most (if not all) of the MIKE snaps. The Bears’ offense is one that will give Tranquill ample opportunities to make plays; he could get a sack, force a turnover and have a couple of tackles-for-loss. Look for No. 23 to be flying around the field this week — and demonstrating why the Chiefs were so excited to give him a desk in their linebacker room.
Tight end Travis Kelce: It wasn’t a great Week 2 for the All-Everything tight end. We’re not used to going two weeks without seeing a big game from Kelce — and I don’t think we’ll see three; there’s every reason to believe he return to form. Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans and Cade Otton had plenty of success against against Chicago last Sunday, so Kelce should be able to find plenty of room in the secondary where he can work his magic. He also knows that he lost his cool against the Jaguars. He won’t want that to happen two weeks in a row.
Others trending in the right direction: Cornerbacks Jaylen Watson, L’Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie, wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Justin Watson, defensive tackles Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi, tight end Noah Gray, defensive end George Karlaftis and linebacker Leo Chenal.
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Last week, the Chiefs running game got going a bit better— and this time, the fourth-year running back played no significant no role in it. Although he did have a couple of catches, Edwards-Helaire logged only one carry for zero yards. Isiah Pacheco was the man in Jacksonville, turning in a 31-yard, third-quarter run that was one of the game’s biggest plays — not to mention the first-down run to put the matchup on ice. Assuming Pacheco remains healthy enough to play, it appears that he’ll continue to dominate the carries — leaving Edwards-Helaire to (mostly) watch from the sidelines.
Tight end Blake Bell: The tight-end-quarterback sneak is dead. In Week 2, Bell wasn’t targeted in the passing game, either. At this point, it looks like the Belldozer is strictly a blocking machine. That doesn’t make him unimportant, but it does seems that tight end Noah Gray has become all-around No. 2 tight end.
Cornerback Joshua Williams: The see-saw battle for the third cornerback spot continued against the Jaguars. Jaylen Watson saw a spike in his snaps, responding with a couple of huge plays. Williams — who had taken all the thrid cornerback snaps in Week 1 — seemed to have a few struggles against Jacksonville receivers like Christian Kirk. For the Bears, D.J. Moore was just as productive in Week 2 — and he is probably a worse matchup for the Chiefs’ corners. Whether it’s Williams, Watson or Sneed, the Kansas City defense will need to find some answers to keep Moore (and Chase Claypool) from becoming effective.
Others trending in the wrong direction:: wide receiver Richie James, tackle Lucas Niang, running back Jerick McKinnon and safety Bryan Cook
Value (sleeper) pick: Wide receiver Rashee Rice
On Saturday, wide receiver Richie James was placed on injured reserve. Considering that the offense has already been struggling, the Chiefs might be looking for a young player who can provide a spark. In his rookie season, Rice has been very solid so far — but this could be the week in which he takes a shorter pass and breaks it for a long run. He’s got the contested-catch skills (and run-after-catch ability) to help give the offense some new downfield dynamics. There have been social media reports that the Chiefs have been looking to push the ball downfield more often — with a focus on Marquez Valdes-Scantling — but Rice could be the player who surprises us with a few big plays.