The Kansas City Chiefs are operating like a team that knows it’s time to rebuild but doesn’t think it has enough in the tank to “go for it.” It made perfect sense for them to trade up to take a quarterback in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but to take Patrick Mahomes II with Deshaun Watson sitting on the board was troublesome. Whereas Watson seems NFL-ready, Mahomes is a project pick who figures to need at least a full year to develop. That ensures Alex Smith is going to be the team’s starting quarterback for at least the rest of 2017.
The Chiefs aren’t that far away. They were the No. 2 seed in the AFC last season for crying out loud! But they really didn’t make any splashy moves in the offseason that could prove to be that last piece to the puzzle necessary to get over the hump. Thus, the results could be devastating this fall.
Why The Chiefs Will Overachieve In 2017
There are times when measuring overachievement and underachievement is relative. As a Chiefs fan, you would hope your team would take some steps forward from last year. But the realistic ones know that that team overachieved. Merely duplicating a spot in the Divisional Round of the playoffs is about as much as KC can hope for this fall.
Smith is who he is: a game manager. He’ll throw for under 200 yards in most games and will probably fail to get anywhere near 20 touchdowns, but his style of play has worked for this offense.
The one flashy star of this offense turns out to be Tyreek Hill. It’s a bit predictable to see Hill turn in a great season in 2017, particularly with Jeremy Maclin getting cut in June, What we end up seeing, though, is amazing. Hill finishes the season with 250 rushing yards, 1,500 receiving yards and over 1,000 yards as a returner, breaking the all-time single-season all-purpose yardage record along the way.
The defense does the rest. The Chiefs finish the year No. 1 in the NFL in total defense thanks to a league-leading 55 sacks on the campaign. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston both have double-digit sack seasons, and they turn out to be two of the five Pro Bowlers on this defense.
The Chiefs finish with 12 wins once again and prove to be great for our NFL Pick ‘Em Contests. But when push comes to shove in the playoffs, they still aren’t good enough to contend with New England.
Why The Chiefs Will Underachieve In 2017
At some point, consistent scoring is needed in the NFL, and the Kansas City offense just isn’t adept at doing that. The skill players on this team are Hill, Chris Conley, Travis Kelce, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, and that flat out doesn’t work at this level. Teams wise up to Hill as a speedster and simply try to keep the ball out of his hands, and Smith ends up really being lost in this offense without Maclin.
After getting blasted 38-3 on opening night against the Pats, the Chiefs come home and fail to score a touchdown in a second consecutive game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Clamoring begins for Mahomes to take over under center, but there’s no way that he’s ready to play this early in his career. Smith is the only option the team has, and that turns out to be its demise.
But the real issue here for Kansas City turns out to be its schedule. The Chiefs have to play the Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos twice, road games against the Patriots, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, as well as home games with the Eagles, Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins. Going from 12-4 to 4-12 isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
2017 Kansas City Chiefs Schedule
Week 1: at Patriots
Week 2: vs. Eagles
Week 3: at Chargers
Week 4: vs. Redskins
Week 5: at Texans
Week 6: vs. Steelers
Week 7: at Raiders
Week 8: vs. Broncos
Week 9: at Cowboys
Week 10: Bye
Week 11: at Giants
Week 12: vs. Bills
Week 13: at Jets
Week 14: vs. Raiders
Week 15: vs. Chargers
Week 16: vs. Dolphins
Week 17: at Broncos
Chiefs Pick ‘Em Contest Best Bet: Week 4 vs. Redskins
The Redskins only allowed 23 sacks last season in spite of the fact that they threw the ball 607 times. But you’re not going to be able to stand in the pocket and throw the ball 40 times against this Kansas City defense without getting your quarterback killed by Hali and Houston. Washington’s lack of a running game could end up being a big problem in this one, especially on the road in Arrowhead.
Chiefs Pick ‘Em Contest Top Fade: Week 1 at Patriots
Sure, it’s a trite pick, but the Chiefs don’t stand a chance in Week 1. Remember the Sunday Night Football game last season when KC went to Pittsburgh and was beaten 43-14 in a game that wasn’t all that close? This could be a similar result. It’s banner-raising night in Foxboro, and Tom Brady is still out to prove that he’s elite in his quest for a sixth ring. Sure, Smith ended up hanging in there two years ago in the playoffs at Gillette Stadium, but the Chiefs were never close to pulling the upset in spite of the relatively close 27-20 final score. That figures to be as close as they can come in Week 1.