Kansas City Chiefs 2019 Season Preview
By Stephanie Longley
Even after having Alex Smith quarterback this team into two AFC Divisional matches and two Wild Card games in the span of 5 years, 2018 brought a new air of confidence into Kansas City. The revelation of Patrick Mahomes is a stroke of genius Andy Reid may never be able to replicate again, but he doesn’t have to worry about that for the moment. Behind Mahomes’ arm, the Chiefs became the AFC’s most prolific offense of the season, scoring 35.3 points/game, with their offensive prowess in full display in a showdown against the Los Angeles Rams which ended at 54 – 51.
Unfortunately, their kryptonite defense reared its ugly head against the Patriots in the AFC Conference game, and they were denied of another chance to visit the Super Bowl stage. The Chiefs weren’t subdued, however. 2018 was just a glimpse of the things that are yet to come in a city that yearns for another Super Bowl win after half a century.
In direct contrast to their flashy season, the off season was marred by an unwanted scandal in the form of Tyreek Hill. While there were ultimately no charges brought and no suspension handed down, he will nonetheless be under the scrutiny of many in 2019. This is another unnecessary public affairs situation that Kansas hoped not to repeat after Kareem Hunt was dismissed the year before.
In regards to players, one can’t help but be a bit skeptical at their choices. Without a doubt, their linebackers and safety position were the two weakest links of their team. While signing Tyrann Matheiu can bring an edge to your defense, they agreed to give an extraordinary amount of draft picks to add Frank Clark to their arsenal. All in all, given their weak draft class, Tyreek Hill’s scandal, and the departure of significant players, it was a tough off season for the Arrowhead faithful.
Eric Bieniemy is the offensive coordinator by name here but Andy Reid pulls the strings. The Chiefs could not ask anything more from that combination in its first season together. They had the players, the tools, and they unleashed them on the field. Ultimately what we saw was one of the finest offenses we’ve seen this decade. Even without Kareem Hunt, Damien Williams did enough in the playoffs to make me believe in him. With Hunt gone that the backfield in Kansas City should remain stable for the upcoming season.
As for the quarterback and his receivers, I expect you have heard of them enough to know them by heart now. Mahomes presents one of the ultimate chalenges in the game right now. With his impressive technique, superb arm strength, and reluctance to yield under pressure, he s a juggarnaut. The question is, can he get better? No doubt about it, as he still has some issues such as holding the ball for too long, or throwing it off course when the game gets tough. He will have the help of star tight end Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill, a speedster with an impeccable vision. Offensively, this team is the cream of the crop.
This is where things get bleak. For a team that was in the top-five in most offensive statistics, they were in the bottom-five in many defensive ones. Bob Sutton was dismissed, bringing in Steve Spagnuolo, who I can’t for the life of me understand how is still employed within NFL ranks. He has failed to live up to the levels he set for himself in recent yeats, and the Chiefs are going all in that he can do it for them. It is a big gamble.
I don’t know how he’ll make this defense any better, when a lot of things that went wrong last year didn’t exactly mend over the off season. Dee Ford made a crucial mistake that gave the Patriots a big chance to win, but letting him go and giving up so many draft picks for Clark is not exactly a win/win situation. Tyrann Mathieu’s skills are known, but he hasn’t shown a Pro Bowl level since 2015. Justin Houston is gone, and the Chiefs haven’t done anything to substitute him. Juan Thornhill is a player I’d love to watch flourish this season, but I wouldn’t keep my hopes up for this defense to not collapse in crucial games; especially under Spagnuolo.
The way this season will be shaped rests on the defense and if the other teams have watched enough tape of Mahomes to neutralise him. Let’s not forget that AFC West has somewhat strengthened in the off season, and that two trips to Los Angeles and the disadvantageous turf of Mile High Stadium might make a couple of divisional games harder for the Chiefs. Bar any catastrophic injury, the offense will keep this team afloat. Positioning them on a seed is difficult, but I am willing to bet they’ll be AFC West Champions once more.
Record Prediction: 11-5
Image credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports