The 2016-2017 Season; A rollercoaster ride for Chiefs fans. Following a heartbreaking 18-16 playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chiefs brass had major decisions to make. Was it time to start thinking about Alex Smith’s replacement? Would resigning All-Pro Safety Eric Berry to a long term extension be the right move? Well, we got their answer.
On February 28th, the Chiefs inked Berry to a monster 6 year, $78 million dollar contract. The move showed their loyalty to Berry, as well as the fanbase. However, the Chiefs were not done with their offseason additions. Following the departure of DT Dontari Poe, the Chiefs signed former Eagle Bennie Logan to a 1 year deal. Logan, 27, played for head coach Andy Reid back in Philadelphia, so a reunion will undoubtedly maximize his talents. The off-season spending did not stop there, as the Chiefs signed veteran RB C.J. Spiller to a 1 year deal, allowing him to compete for a job. The Chiefs biggest addition, with future implications, was the first round selection of Quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In his final season at Texas Tech, Mahomes threw for over 5,000 yards, on top of 41 touchdown passes. While Alex Smith‘s job is still safe this year, there is no doubt Mahomes is the Chiefs Quarterback of the future.
The last two additions the Chiefs made were trades with the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs started by acquiring young linebacker Reggie Ragland. Ragland missed the entire 2016 with a knee injury, but is healthy and ready for the Chiefs season. He will be making his NFL debut with Kansas City, as he was a top pick out of Alabama just two years ago. The second addition Kansas City made was acquiring center Cameron Erving. Erving, 25, is another former first round pick. With this move, the Chiefs are getting depth and physicality. They are also hoping they catch lightning in a bottle, as Erving has untapped potential.
While the Chiefs made some significant splashes this offseason, they still sustained a couple of significant losses. Back in July, the Chiefs parted ways with veteran receiver Jeremy Maclin. The Chiefs run a red zone offense that isn’t highly reliant on Wide Receivers, but Maclin was the rare exception. Prior to an injury derailed season in 2016, Maclin had a career year. In 2015, Maclin hauled in 87 receptions for 1,088 yards and 8 touchdowns. A healthy Maclin was a difference maker for Kansas City, but his injuries, as well as the emergence of Tyreek Hill, shortened his tenure.
Perhaps the most significant loss Kansas City sustained occurred just days ago. Following multiple tests, NFL Insider Ian Rapoport reported leading running back Spencer Ware tore his PCL and LCL, an injury that would sideline the young star for the entire season. In his breakout season last year, Ware averaged 4.3 yards a carry on the season. Losing a player of his caliber will hurt the Chiefs. Ware’s replacement will be rookie Kareem Hunt. Fans of the Chiefs are very excited about the young back for all the right reasons. One being his 141.0 Elusive rating, per PFF. A rating that ranks 2nd among 29 active running backs.
In the opinion of many, the Chiefs are one of the most well rounded teams in the NFL. They don’t have any glaring weaknesses. There is stability and depth at nearly every position. Alex Smith may not be great, but he’s definitely good enough to take the Chiefs back to the playoffs. There is young talent at running back and offensive line, and Travis Kelce is a big time threat at the tight end position. The defense has multiple All-Pro caliber players on it, ranging from Eric Berry to Tamba Hali to Marcus Peters. The key to the chiefs is health and closing out games. If they can do that, Chiefs fans should be very optimistic about their team. Now, let’s take a look at their schedule…
The AFC West plays the NFC East and AFC East this season, presenting travel concerns. However, the Chiefs will travel less miles than the rest of their division opponents. Their schedule is highlighted by road games against the Patriots, Cowboys and Giants, all in the first half of the season. It is key the Chiefs stay afloat after those games, because they finish with 4 out of 6 games at Arrowhead.
Record Prediction: 11-5, 1st in AFC West
Reasoning: Like I said before, the Chiefs don’t have any glaring weaknesses that scare you away from predicting them from winning 11 games. They have a somewhat difficult schedule, but taking care of divisional games will be key for the team. I have them finishing with a 5-1 record vs the AFC West (Loss @ Oakland). All in all, it should be a very exciting season for the Chiefs Kingdom!