The Kansas City Chiefs are perhaps the biggest unknown commodity in the NFL heading into the 2018 season.
The club endured another failure in the post-season in the 2017 campaign, losing to the Tennessee Titans in the Wildcard Round.
Kansas City’s failure prompted change at the quarterback position. Alex Smith enjoyed arguably the best season of his career, although it was not good enough to even earn his side a bye in the AFC Conference, resulting in their clash against the Titans in the first weekend of the post-season.
He failed to rise to the occasion at Arrowhead Stadium, which has been the story of his career. He was traded to the Washington Redskins, allowing 2017 first-round pick Patrick Mahomes to assume the mantle of starting quarterback.
The Chiefs also allowed fellow veterans Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali to leave the club, while All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. Kendall Fuller was acquired as part of the deal to take Smith to the Redskins.
Andy Reid and his coaching staff are putting faith in their young talent to guide their team over the hump in the AFC. With Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce, they could be the team to knock off the New England Patriots or equally struggle to find their feet in the playoff picture.
Kansas City got off to a flying start to their 2017 campaign, winning their opening five matches of the season, including a brilliant victory over the Patriots in their opener. Smith was the architect of their success, putting his team in position for a run at the number one seed. However, he was unable to maintain his form throughout the term, which saw a drop off in results on the field.
The Chiefs won the AFC West, but were forced to play on Wildcard weekend against the Titans. Tennessee stunned the Chiefs with an incredible comeback to advance. Smith paid the price and now Mahomes is the man under center for the club. It was inevitable that Reid would move the 22-year-old in place as the Chiefs moved up to selected the quarterback with the 10th overall pick in 2017.
Mahomes was a standout player during his college days at Texas Tech. He has the ability to throw from the pocket as well as provide a running threat. Mahomes is more dynamic than Smith and should offer a more potent problem for opposing defenses on the move. Reid is a good judge of quarterbacks and it would be a surprise if the 22-year-old were to flounder in his offense.
However, he has ample support around him to thrive. Kelce has developed into the second best tight end in the NFL. His concussion against Tennessee loomed large in the defeat. Kelce will continue to be an active part of the passing game, providing mismatches against safeties and linebackers. Hill is one of the most explosive wideouts in the NFL.
There are few players that can match his sheer speed. Last season was a breakout year and he will be expected to match that level of performance in 2018. Hunt had a nightmare start to his career, fumbling on his first NFL snap. However, everything after that was brilliant. He led the league in rushing with 1,327 yards and it would be no surprise if he were to do so again this term.
The Chiefs’ defense has been an issue in big moments in the past and was so again last term, allowing Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry to take the game away from them at Arrowhead. Johnson and Hali were the veterans to make way, with the former looking a step slow in the linebacking corp. Hali was released after playing only five matches last term, although his play had been on the decline for a few seasons.
Eric Berry’s return from injury will be huge for the Chiefs. He missed all but the season opener after rupturing his Achilles against the Patriots. At the peak of his powers he arguably the best safety in the game. However, a second major injury may limit his ability on the field after previously tearing his ACL. Kansas City need him at his best.
Peters was brilliant between the lines for the Chiefs, but his behaviour off the field resulted in his trade to the Rams. Fuller arrived to offset his departure, and between him and Steven Nelson, there’s enough talent as a starting tandem.
The Chiefs have been suspect against the run in recent years. Breeland Speaks and Derrick Nnadi were drafted in the second and third rounds. Chris Jones in the current anchor on the line and the rookies will be aiming to make an immediate impact to aid their side in the trenches. Justin Houston had 9.5 sacks, working his way back to full health following an ACL tear in 2015.
The Chiefs need him to be dominant, while Dee Ford and Tanoh Kpassagnon also need to provide pressure off the edge. Anthony Hitchens has big shoes to fill following his arrival, replacing Johnson in the middle of the defense. The linebacker signed a lucrative deal and has to rise to the occasion.
Unless Mahomes proves to be a total bust then there’s no way the Chiefs should miss the playoffs. Take them at odds of 23/202.15+1151.151.15-0.87 with TopBet to get over the line for the fourth season on the bounce. They should have enough to see off the threat of the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West. The question remains over the quality of Mahomes.
If he is a notch below the form of Smith then there could be trouble. However, back the Chiefs to win the West at odds of 14/53.80+2802.802.80-0.36 with TopBet, while take them win over eight games at 3/41.75-1330.75-1.330.75 with 888Sport. Should everything fall into place they could challenge for the AFC Championship, but only bet on the value at 15/116.00+150015.0015.00-0.07 with TopBet as they’re not ready yet for a run at the Super Bowl.
Hunt was the leading rusher in the NFL last season. Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson will be playing a full complement of games this term. It will make it harder for the back to repeat his feat, but take him at odds of 14/115.00+140014.0014.00-0.07 with BetOnline to win the rushing title.
Hill passed 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career in 2017. He could be in line for another improvement in 2018. Take him at odds of 1006/2541.24+402440.2440.24-0.02 to lead the league with Bookmaker. Berry has bounced back before to impress on the NFL field, back him to storm his way back to prevalence by winning defensive player of the year at 66/167.00+660066.0066.00-0.02 with BetOnline.
Kelce has surpassed the 1,000 receiving yard mark in his past two seasons. Take him on the over on 1,001 yards at odds of 83/1001.83-1200.83-1.200.83 and over seven touchdowns at 87/1001.87-1150.87-1.150.87 with BetOnline. Back Hill to achieve the same feat for yards at 87/1001.87-1150.87-1.150.87 , but over eight touchdowns at 4/51.80-1250.80-1.250.80 . Hunt has an interesting line at 1,099 rushing yards – take the over on the number at 87/1001.87-1150.87-1.150.87 and over 11 touchdowns at 87/1001.87-1150.87-1.150.87 .
Kansas City Chiefs To Reach The Playoffs
Kansas City Chiefs To Win Over Eight Matches
Kansas City Chiefs To Win AFC West
Kansas City Chiefs To Win AFC Championship
Kareem Hunt To Be NFL Rushing Leader
Tyreek Hill To Lead NFL In Receiving Yards
Eric Berry To Be NFL Defensive Player Of The Year
Travis Kelce To Record Over 1,001 Receiving Yards
Travis Kelce To Record Over Seven Touchdowns
Tyreek Hill To Record Over 1,001 Receiving Yards
Tyreek Hill To Record Over Eight Touchdowns
Kareem Hunt To Record Over 1,099 Rushing Yards
Kareem Hunt To Record Over 11 Touchdowns