Now that the NFL schedules have been out for a while, it’s a good opportunity to do some deep-tissue analysis of the Chiefs’ schedule to find out if the football gods blessed them with a lineup gracious enough to follow through with a solid title defense.
SECOND QUARTER: RAIDERS WEEK, BABY (FEAT. @ BILLS, @ BRONCOS, JETS)
Pretty self explanatory: IT’S RAIDERS WEEK, BABY. The Las Vegas Raiders hit the road and come to Arrowhead with a whole lot of new goodies for Derek Carr to play with. Gruden’s plan to match speed with speed starts with rookie Henry Ruggs. The dude ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but he might need some time to develop into a bona fide NFL deep threat.
Outside of that, you’ve got the human swiss army knife in Lynn Bowden Jr. who will probably find some use somewhere on the field, and there’s a big-body slot threat in Bryan Edwards. The offense is ripe with young talent, it’s just a matter of Carr tapping into some of that MVP-esque juice he had a few years ago. The Raiders also bagged Damon Arnette to help shore up their secondary situation, as well as former Cowboys DT Maliek Collins to beef that pass rush. We’re getting close to this team being a complete NFL product. If they can average over 20 points a game on offense this season, they might be in good shape.
Honestly this Bills game for Sunday Night Football is the game that should make you sweat if you’re a Chiefs fan. That Bills defense was second in the league in points allowed last year, sacked the quarterback 55 times, forced 16 fumbles, and features a house of horrors in the box – occupied by Ed Oliver, Shaq Lawson, Jordan Phillips, Lorenzo Alexander, and Trent Murphy – that will try to beat the Chiefs O-Line off the ball. Once you get past that, though, on the other side of the ball is an offense that’s still…a work in progress. Devin Singletary and Josh Allen are going to have to be checked on the ground, and Allen’s got a cannon that is just accurate enough to make the deep ball a threat. If the Chiefs can disrupt the pocket and force Allen to improvise, though, they could be in for a good time.
The first Broncos/Chiefs throwdown is at Mile High, and like their Las Vegas rivals, Denver also got their quarterback a fresh batch of offensive weapons. They picked up arguably the best wide receiver in this year’s draft in Jerry Jeudy, and Mizzou TE (and former favorite Drew Lock target) in tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, to go along with Courtland Sutton and dual-threat running back Phillip Lindsay. Even once Joe Flacco got replaced with Lock last season to finish the season on a high note (winning four out of your last five games ain’t bad), though, the offense still had some issues getting to the groove.
Since Bradley Chubb and Bryce Callahan are both healthy now, I wouldn’t expect Fangio’s defense to take too much of a dip in quality. Really the only things that should be concerning are: A) How Drew Lock can improve and B) if Fangio is the right kind of head coach to facilitate it. This could serve as a good tune-up game for a couple of teams who may honestly need it… for the Chiefs it depends on how that Bills game goes.
And if THAT doesn’t work out for the Chiefs, enter a home matchup with the New York Jets. The Jets are… a whole bunch of mess on offense. Remember when Sam Darnold got caught “seeing ghosts” against the Patriots? Yeah, things didn’t get much better from there. Hopefully, the only thing Darnold will have to worry about this year is his offensive line, though the addition of Louisville big boy Mekhi Becton should eventually yield some positive returns as he becomes a more refined lineman. The Jets also snagged Baylor WR Denzel Mims to give Darnold a solid WR prospect to throw to, but outside of that you’d probably have to pray for a miracle if you want the Jets to succeed offensively.
Things are less dire on the flip side of the ball, as New York’s defensive line and secondary (which could be even better if stud rookie from Virginia Bryce Hall can stay healthy) aren’t anything to plug your nose at. Jamal Adams and Quinnen Williams are beasts, and if the Jets can grow themselves a solid pass rush, they could be a force to be reckoned with on defense. Maybe even enough to compete with the rest of the AFC East? If not that, the Chiefs should at least get a good workout from them.