10. Chiefs (2018-present)
Andy Reid’s team earned a seat at this exclusive table after winning last year’s Super Bowl. They made the list ahead of the 2000s Steelers, late ‘90s Broncos and Bill Parcells’ Giants of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Each of those teams also won two Super Bowls during their respective eras.
The Chiefs’ recent run of success is even more impressive considering that it is happening during the Super Bowl era. Kansas City joined the Patriots as the only teams this century to play in four Super Bowls over a five-year span. It did so after winning the first two road playoff games of Mahomes’ career.
Why they’re No. 10: Kansas City has one of the game’s all-time great coaches in Reid, the best quarterback in today’s NFL in Mahomes, and a future Hall of Fame tight end in Travis Kelce. They also have other elite players like offensive linemen Creed Humphrey and Joe Thuney, defensive lineman Chris Jones, as well as a slew of other talented players who continue to play integral roles in their success.
The Chiefs will move much further up this list if they can do something that hasn’t been done in nearly 20 years: win back-to-back titles, a feat that has only been accomplished by the Brady-Belichick Patriots since the start of the millennium.
PRESEASON WIN-SHARE RANKING: 16th
FINAL WIN-SHARE RANKING: 10th
I know that the difference between the preseason ranking and the final ranking doesn’t seem like a lot at first blush. But in this 2023 season — including the playoffs — defensive efficiency is significantly more corelated to wins than in the previous four seasons, so you should think of the six-spot jump in the win-share rankings as more like a vault of 10-to-12 slots. Additionally, the Chiefs had the most drops in the regular season and just generally struggled with offensive consistency, which put even more pressure on the defense to hold the fort.
NGS shows that the Chiefs generated the most unblocked pressures (73) at the highest rate (11.3 percent), while also allowing a grand total of +2 yards after catch over expected (ranking second, behind just the Falcons). On third down, they were able to get pressure on opposing QBs at the fourth-highest rate (49.4%) with the second-highest sack rate (16.3%). And of course, when it comes to Steve Spagnuolo’s blitz rate, Kansas City ranked fifth (37.5%).
We all know how dominant DT Chris Jones has been for years, but second-year DE George Karlaftis took his game to a new level in 2023 with 55 pressures, a 12.7 percent QB pressure rate and 10.5 sacks in the regular season. As for the secondary, second-year corner Trent McDuffie generated 14 QB pressures from the slot (most in the NFL), while veteran L’Jarius Sneed allowed a league-low -19.2 target EPA as the nearest defender in coverage in the red zone.
24. WR CALVIN RIDLEY, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Potential landing spot(s): Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs
With D.J. Moore in place, Chicago could get two players who are interchangeable as X-receivers up on the line and as good move/Z-receivers with alignment versatility. Both can create separation vertically, but Ridley could take the top off defenses even more and let Moore utilize his high-end after-the-catch abilities at the short and intermediate levels.
Kansas City has shown time and time again that it isn’t going to make free agent splashes on older players, but perhaps the Chiefs buy low on a very good player who fits their play style profile as a really good separator with late hands. Every single mock draft from now until Round 1 of the 2024 Draft kicks off will have Kansas City taking one of the many great wide receivers in this class, but now picking either 31st or 32nd overall, the Chiefs address their biggest need in March and still leave the door open for a rookie.
5 - Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have orchestrated another strong postseason run to the Super Bowl, but it wasn’t all daisies and roses in the regular season. Mahomes had his worst statistical season, mainly because of the team’s issues at the wide receiver position. The Chiefs dropped 30 passes in the 16 games that Mahomes started (he did not play in Week 18), per Next Gen Stats. Kansas City worked through a lot of ups and downs offensively, but Mahomes knows how to win, and he did enough of that to hand Kansas City its eighth straight AFC West title.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Ladd McConkey WR
GEORGIA • JR • 6’0” / 185 LBS
Shifty with great hands and plenty of explosiveness, don’t be surprised if McConkey lands in Round 1. He’d be a fun addition to the Chiefs offense, and can hit the ground running in Kansas City.
Sneed, the Kansas City Chiefs cornerback, was bumped from an 88 overall in the AFC Divisional round to a 90 overall following the team’s win over the Baltimore Ravens in the conference championship game.
Much like McCaffrey, Sneed played a critical role in his team’s conference-clinching victory.
Around the NFL
The Seattle Seahawks have hired Mike Macdonald, 36, as their new head coach. He becomes the youngest coach in the league, supplanting 37-year-old Jerod Mayo of the New England Patriots, who was hired earlier this month. Macdonald also replaces Pete Carroll, 72, who had been the league’s oldest coach, in the Pacific Northwest.
With Macdonald headed to Seattle, the Washington Commanders are left as the only team with a vacant HC opening.
Macdonald spent the past two years as defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. For the last 10 seasons, he’s been working for the Harbaughs – nine years on Baltimore’s staff in various defensive capacities for head coach John Harbaugh but one season (2021) as defensive coordinator for Jim Harbaugh’s University of Michigan Wolverines.
The two sides are nearing a deal to make Wilson the first coach added to Brian Callahan’s staff.
Wilson just completed his 12th season as an NFL coach, and ninth leading defensive backs at the pro level. He spent two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he served as defensive passing game coordinator (2022) and a defensive backs coach (2021 and ‘22).
Wilson helped Philadelphia establish the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense (179.8 yards allowed per game), leading to a Super Bowl LVII appearance.
Before working for the Eagles, Wilson spent four years with the New York Jets (2017-20).
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Unfortunately, [Omenihu] is going to miss more than just championship Sunday.
Following surgery from a torn ACL, return to play will be at least nine months, but potentially longer. A quicker return to play is also assuming there is no other ligamentous or meniscus damage suffered. If other structures within the knee joint are injured, the recovery timeline is obviously longer.
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of four main stabilizing ligaments for the knee. It is crucial in providing stability for running, jumping and cutting — and generally giving the knee the support it needs for any power move. The ACL functions to prevent forward translation of the tibia (shin bone) on the femur (thigh bone), as well as providing rotational stability.
Surgical reconstruction of an ACL involves a soft tissue graft replacing the torn ligament, tissue either from a person’s own body, donor, or cadaver. The months of rehab involve restoring range of motion, quadriceps function, lower extremity strengthening, as well as static and dynamic stability for the knee joint.
Omenihu will likely be undergoing surgery very soon in order to start his rehab process and preparations for the 2024 season. Assuming all goes well with his surgery and rehab, as well as a nine-month timeframe, Omenihu may be ready to return in late September or October. Some defensive linemen returning from ACL injuries often take closer to 11 to 12 months to return.