4. Chiefs at Chargers
This game is tempting, and, if I was still operating under my protocol of the past few years, I think I would have put it in my No. 1 spot. But I have learned my lesson. This game is possibly too good. These two teams could be playing to settle the AFC West title, and/or for one team to get a wild card. But the Chiefs also might have the division wrapped up by multiple games at this point. They could be resting starters before the playoffs, and The Crown Jewel of the Regular SeasonTM will not involve Blaine Gabbert. We must account for that possibility. It’s hard to believe I have three games above this one. There are highly compensated executives who spend most of their waking hours trying to figure out how to maximize the amount of time Patrick Mahomes is playing football on national television. But I am going with three other games ahead of this one.
Potential breakout: Trent McDuffie
The second-year corner out of Washington is going to be a household name after this season. McDuffie injured his hamstring in the Chiefs’ Week 1 victory against the Cardinals last season and missed six weeks. The Chiefs pass defense was ranked 26th over the first seven weeks of the season without McDuffie. With him back in the lineup starting in Week 8, the Chiefs pass defense ranked ninth in efficiency until the end of the regular season.
McDuffie was the Chiefs’ best coverage defender in the slot last season, but I see him playing outside for most of this campaign. He finished last season ranked as the second-best rookie corner by Pro Football Focus and 16th overall. That’s particularly impressive considering he missed six weeks. He was also seventh in yard per reception allowed.
Kansas City Chiefs: Edge Carlos Dunlap
The Philadelphia Eagles were a prime example of what a team can do when they stockpile talented pass-rushers. Their ability to create pressure with their front four made them a nightmare that only the Kansas City Chiefs were able to beat in the playoffs.
The Chiefs are similarly built. They are middle-of-the-road when it comes to blitz rate, but Chris Jones and the defensive line generated pressure at a top-five rate last season.
However, they might need to add to their arsenal of edge defenders if they want to keep doing that. Charles Omenihu is suspended for the first six games of the season, and first-round pick Felix Anudike-Uzomah might have some learning to do as a rookie.
That leaves little outside of George Karlaftis to threaten on the outside. To that end, bringing back Carlos Dunlap is worth exploring.
Dunlap was a part-time player for the Chiefs last season, but he notched four sacks and 20 total pressures. That’s only four fewer than Frank Clark had even though Clark played more snaps on the same team.
“We’re not scared of the expectations,” Holmes said. “The expectations are earned through, I think, what we’ve built and what we’ve done up until this point in terms of how we finished the end of the season and through our player acquisition process. But now we’ve got to just prove them right.”
For the first time in Ford Field history, Lions season tickets have already sold out. Holmes calls the “hype train” a little surprising this past season “because we didn’t make the playoffs,” but they’re embracing the early fanfare.
“I didn’t think it would be to this magnitude, but regardless of whatever or how much positive news is coming out, we’ll still keep that same mindset that we’ll always be the hunters and we’re not succumbing to the targets on our back,” Holmes said. “We’ll always be hunting and aiming for the target, and it doesn’t really change.
Benjamin: Patrick Mahomes (+600). Boring, but there just isn’t anyone as automatic under center. Give him any combo of WRs, and he’ll ball out.
Dubin: Patrick Mahomes (+600). I see no reason to pick anybody else when he’s very obviously the best and most valuable player in football.
1) Humility. This boils down to the three most important people in leadership roles — owner Clark Hunt, head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes — who continue to drive the organization. Hunt is one of the humblest people — not just owner — I have ever been around. The same goes for Reid, the fifth-winningest coach in NFL history. And sure, it helps that Mahomes is the best player in football right now, but the fact that he is obsessed with winning — yet not in a way that’s detrimental to the team — despite having already won multiple MVP awards and Super Bowl titles, undoubtedly motivates the rest of the roster.
CBS Sports’ Super Bowl best bets
Kansas City Chiefs +500
Dubin: I get 6-to-1 on Mahomes? Thank you.
Kernish: I will not pick against the Chiefs so long as they have Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. It’s entirely possible the offense will miss former OC Eric Bieniemy, but I’ll take my chances on them figuring out how to score enough points.
Around the NFL
Right tackle Terence Steele has agreed to terms on a five-year, $86.8 million extension, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported Sunday, per Steele’s agent.
The deal includes $50 million guaranteed, and a max value of $91.8 million, Pelissero added. The team later announced the extension.
Steele is the latest Cowboys player to put pen to paper on a new deal this offseason, after cornerback Trevon Diggs and safety Malik Hooker each got extensions earlier in the summer.
The block left Giants safety Bobby McCain concussed and angered outside linebacker Jihad Ward. Ward and Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers went face-to-face on the following drive as a result.
“Everybody going to get pissed off at that. The whole team was pissed off, you know what I’m saying?” Ward said. “It’s preseason and all that stuff and you’re going to do some reaction like that?”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon were clearly the top two running backs on the depth chart. But who were going to be the third and fourth running backs? Three players were fighting those spots: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Deneric Prince and La’Mical Perine.
Unlike with many positions, the Chiefs’ third man up will likely be very important. As I explained in my “10 Biggest Questions” series, Pacheco returning from offseason surgery (and McKinnon having a limited his role to keep him healthy) creates a situation where this player will receive more opportunities than almost any other team’s third back. While McKinnon would be likely to get most third-down snaps, the third back will share time with Pacheco — and If the starter is slow to start (or is re-injured), whoever wins the job will suddenly be at the top of the rotation.
Through most pf training camp, it seemed like Prince was the leading candidate for the job. During OTAs, he became an option as a kick returner option as he excelled as a open-field runner. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub compared Prince to former Kansas City running back Knile Davis. To me, Prince seemed more viable as a special teams player — and had one elite trait: open-field speed. In contrast, at this point of his career, Edwards-Helaire appears to lack any distinguishing traits. I felt would cause him to fall behind in the rotation.
Regardless of my own view, however, I knew the preseason would make the team’s intentions clearer. Once we got opportunities to see each of these players perform in their respective roles, the pecking order would come together in a way that was easy to understand.