Kansas City Chiefs
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The Kansas City Chiefs Will Repeat as AFC West Champs
I think the AFC West is going to play out similarly to how it did last year. You’ve got to still love the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes.
The Chiefs Still Have Top-Tier Weapons
The Chiefs have one of the best tight ends in Travis Kelce. Their best defensive lineman, and probably their best player on the defense as a whole, Chris Jones, is coming back. They brought in Marquez Valdes-Scantling from the Green Bay Packers, and they brought JuJu Smith-Schuster from the Pittsburgh Steelers to replace Tyreek Hill.
The receiving group is going to be good enough, and Mahomes is a difference-maker. He’s a guy that can still make plays down the field. He won’t have Hill’s speed, but he’s still got Mecole Hardman, and Hardman can run, so I think they are going to win the AFC West.
The Raiders are Close Behind
The Las Vegas Raiders with Derek Carr and his new, improved receiving group with Davante Adams are going to make them better this season. You have Adams, Hunter Renfrow and arguably one of the other best tight ends in the league in Darren Waller. They also have a solid running game with Josh Jacobs, so I think Carr is going to be very happy.
I’m pretty sure I saw a smile on Carr’s face every time I saw him this summer, so I would think they are going to be the No. 2 seed in the AFC West.
The Chargers’ Fate Rests With Their QB
Justin Herbert is a great quarterback. He’s just so natural and a lot of the things he does inside and outside of the pocket you just can’t teach. It just comes with him. Herbert’s got some big receivers in Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, who I think is the best route runner in the NFL. I know he’s an older player, but he’s still got the same skill set.
Then, they got Khalil Mack, who was with the Raiders and Bears, so if he and Joey Bosa can get it together and put a pass rush on the opposing quarterbacks, then Derwin James, who is healthy this year, can get a lot of interceptions.
Denver Could Miss the Playoffs
I think the team that brings up the end of the AFC West is going to be the Denver Broncos. I know we made a big deal about them getting Russell Wilson, and we should’ve. Wilson is a generational player, who can make you a better football team. They have receivers, too. They have Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. They’ve got players, and they have a solid defense.
I just think they are playing in a stacked division that is going to put them in fourth place. I don’t think they are going to make the playoffs this year. Hopefully, in a couple of years, the Broncos fans can be happy.
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Kansas City Chiefs Are Still Impressive Without Tyreek Hill
I had a chance to go check out Kansas City Chiefs training camp, and I will say this, I was super impressed. I had a chance to talk with Andy Reid and visited with Patrick Mahomes about life and Xs and Os.
In regards to camp, I think this team is physically and mentally fit and ready for Week 1 already.
Life After Tyreek Hill
Checking out Mahomes from a bird’s eye view, he really understands the system. He understands what Reid is trying to accomplish—particularly in practice. He was in control and pretty much led the practice. He led all the drills, changed plays and called plays. The coach sat back and allowed him to embrace the quarterback position. I think that’s great for a guy going into his sixth season as he is growing as a quarterback. You look at a guy like Mahomes, he can play another 15 years if he follows the right regimen, which I think he will.
I was super curious to see how this team would look without Tyreek Hill, and I was very impressed. Mecole Hardman is going to step up, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling is going to play a crucial role. I didn’t see who was going to be the ‘X’ or the ‘Z,’ because I was all over the place and I was trying to spend as much time with Reid as I could. I was only there for seven or eight hours, so I wanted to get my time in with him.
Now that Hill is gone, I think Hardman is going to take that step. For one, Hardman is a lot bigger than I thought he was. After seeing him in person, I think he can take on that role of being a ‘Z’. He’s capable of playing a similar role to what DeSean Jackson did for us when I was with the Eagles.
He has that type of speed and explosiveness. They’re not the same because Jackson is different, but Hardman is the guy that can change the outlook and framework of that offense. You just have to put the ball in his hands. We’ve seen him line up in the backfield. We’ve seen him lineup at slot and out wide at ‘Z’ or ‘X’. You can move him around, so I think he’s gonna be the guy to step up the ship for the Kansas City Chiefs receiving group.
Offensively, I think this team is ready to go. I think they are going to pick up where they left off last year. Don’t forget they still have Travis Kelce. When you have that type of safety blanket and mismatch weapon, anything is possible, and it opens up the remainder of the guys on offense. I know Reid will use that to his advantage.
The defense looks sharp. They put themselves in a position to make plays on offense and make practice difficult, which I think is a good thing. It’s always good when the offense and defense go back and forth, and the offense doesn’t just dominate the defense or vice versa. It was very competitive, and I thought that made for good practice, and good things to come moving forward. I was excited to see how they looked without Hill, and I was very impressed as I walked away from practice.
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The Self-Awareness of Patrick Mahomes
Yes, Patrick Mahomes is coming off playing the worst half of football of his career against Cincinnati. That day, he was playing not to lose the game. He was not his usual playing to win, letting it go self.
Just today, I saw an article in which Mahomes acknowledged that he did not play the game to win, rather he played not to lose and played tight. This shows that the young man has self-awareness. He understands who he is as a player and what he is about.
A Change of Scenery
Most of Mahomes’ targets are gone, with the exception of Travis Kelce. Tyreek Hill is gone, and Mahomes now has to rebuild with Marques Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Neither is coming off of an up-year. Some rookies are being added to the mix as potential weapons for Mahomes as well.
What is most interesting is the way Andy Reid and General Manager Brett Veach approached acclimating Patrick Mahomes with this new group of receivers. They canceled some offseason activities because they know Mahomes will take care of it. Meaning, that this new group of receivers was going to go work out with Mahomes in Texas. They were going to spend time together, learn the offense, bond, and grow as a unit.
That is Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers territory. Organizations have not given them the greatest set of receivers year in and year out, but they figured that these quarterbacks could bring the best out of the receivers and more than make do with who they have around them.
Mahomes Will Take Care of It
When you have that kind of trust in your quarterback, even coming off the worst half of playoff football he has played, that speaks volumes.
After being at Kansas City training camp once before and asking about a certain issue, someone in the organization told me, “Don’t worry, 15 will take care of it.” That is how they feel about Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City.