2018 NFL Season Preview- Kansas City Chiefs
It was one of the weirdest seasons in Chiefs history.
After a 5-0 start, including a season opening day victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, Kansas City lost six of their next seven. The Chiefs were able to win their final four games to claim back to back AFC West titles for the first time in franchise history. However the Chiefs fell to the Tennessee Titans in the wildcard round 22-21. The loss was also tough seeing as how the team had a 21-3 lead at halftime and couldn't do anything in the second half.
Quarterback Alex Smith had a solid season but struggled to manage the offense during the midseason slump. Running back Spencer Ware injured his knee in preseason and was lost for the year while Akeem Hunt broke his ankle in the season finale. Fullback Anthony Sherman remains one of the league's best blocking backs. Outside of Travis Kelce, the rest of the tight ends were non factors. Aside from Tyreek Hill, the wide receivers need to be more reliable. Chris Conley is promising, but he ruptured his Achilles early in the year. Demarcus Robinson looked good in the offseason, but did next to nothing in the regular season. The offensive line was tested by injuries, but was solid overall outside of left guard.
The defensive line struggled with injuries and inconsistent play. Defensive end Chris Jones had 6.5 sacks as a rotational player, but tore his MCL in the team's wildcard loss. Rakeem Nunez-Roches emerged as a reliable 3-4 end. The defense showed how much Dontari Poe was needed with poor nose tackle play. Outside linebacker Dee Ford has been injured the last two seasons and the team just picked up his fifth year option. Inside linebacker Reggie Ragland was an absolute steal from Buffalo after missing his rookie season with injuries. The secondary was picked on constantly as the team never really found a good complement to Marcus Peters. Safety Eric Berry tore his Achilles in the first game and that really set the defense back.
The Chiefs produced four Pro Bowlers in quarterback Alex Smith, running back Kareem Hunt, tight end Travis Kelce, and punt returner Tyreek Hill. Smith set career highs in completions, passing yards, and touchdowns. Hunt helped the Chiefs lead the league with a 4.7 yards per carry average. Kelce posted his second straight 1,000 yard receiving season but he was really missed in the playoffs when he left the game with a concussion. Hill had a breakout season on offense with 1,183 yards and seven touchdowns while remaining one of the league's most dangerous return men.
The rookie class showed they are ready to carry the team moving forward. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes showed off his big arm in the season finale and looks to be ready to start. Linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon transition from his original defensive end spot to show promise with limited snaps. Running back Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing with 1,327 yards despite being almost invisible during the middle of the season. Wide receiver Jehu Chesson started just one game but the team expects him to take a big step in year two.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
Despite the disappointing ending to the 10-6 season, head coach Andy Reid showed optimism for 2018 with the way Kansas City was able to shake off the 1-6 streak midseason. Entering his sixth season with the Chiefs, Reid has to keep the team competitive and moving in the right direction.
After offensive coordinator Matt Nagy left to become the head coach of the Chicago Bears, the team promoted their running backs coach Eric Bieniemy to be the new offensive coordinator.
Notable Additions- QB Chad Henne, QB Matt McGloin, RB Damien Williams, RB Kerwynn Williams, WR Sammy Watkins, TE Jace Amaro, LB Anthony Hitchens, CB David Amerson, CB Kendall Fuller, CB Orlando Scandrick
Notable Departures- QB Alex Smith, RB Akeem Hunt, RB Charcandrick West, WR Albert Wilson, DT Bennie Logan, LB Tamba Hali, LB Derek Johnson, LB Ramik Wilson, CB Phillip Gaines, CB Marcus Peters, CB Darrelle Revis, S Ron Parker
Chiefs 2017 Highlights
2018 NFL Draft
Due to the team trading up to draft Patrick Mahomes in 2017, the Chiefs didn't have a pick until the second round. With such a late first pick, Kansas City has to be smart to fill spots at tight end, defensive tackle, and cornerback.
The offense relies a lot on Travis Kelce and the team needs more consistent depth behind him as Demetrius Harris continues to have trouble with hanging on to the ball.
The Chiefs don't have a true nose tackle on the roster. The defense needs a more reliable run stuffer in the middle of the defensive line.
The team traded away Marcus Peters to the Rams and lost three other defensive backs on the offseason. They brought in David Amerson and Kendall Fuller but they aren't the caliber of player Peters is.
When it finally came time to pick, Kansas City selected Ole Miss defensive end Breeland Speaks with their second round pick. Speaks has great acceleration and footwork for a defensive lineman, but needs to work on using his hands to disengage from blockers.
The Chiefs also notably drafted Florida State defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi in the third round and Texas A&M safety Armani Watts in the fourth. Nnadi was viewed as the top tackling defensive linemen in the draft, but comes with obvious size limitations. Watts was seen as the best zone coverage safety in this class, but his lack of strength and instincts could make him a liability as a run defender.
Breeland Speaks Highlights
What To Expect
Andy Reid might have high hope for this season, but I just don't see it with this team.
Patrick Mahonmes will be thrown right into the fire and has to show he can make all the throws, not just deep balls. The offense will have to rely heavily on Kareem Hunt and the rest of the running backs to carry the load as they can't afford to have a mid season slide like last year. We know Tyreek Hill is going to be a dynamic playmaker on offense and in the return game, but the rest of the receivers like Sammy Watkins have to step up and show they can take some of the coverage off Hill. Travis Kelce should remain the focal point of the offense but the lack of depth behind him could still be an issue. Jace Amaro didn't play last season and looked like a bust before that. The offensive line should be good with Parker Ehinger being the fulltime starter at left guard.
With Derrick Nnadl's size limitations, he will be mainly used as a one gap player and Chris Jones has to show he can play at a high level consistently. The reloaded linebacker corps will be interesting to watch. Reggie Ragland and Anthony Hitchens could be a nice duo on the inside while Justin Houston, Dee Ford, and Breeland Speaks will rush the passer on the edges. Kendall Fuller and David Amerson are a downgrade from Marcus Peters, but Armani Watts should be a nice compliment to a healthy Eric Berry.
With concerns at two of the three levels on defense and having what is basically a first year quarterback, I see Kansas City taking a step backwards and falling short of the AFC West title to the Chargers and even missing out of the playoffs.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 8-8