The Kansas City Chiefs look like the team to beat in the AFC heading into their 2021 season preview. They’ve reached the Super Bowl the past two years and would cement themselves as the next dynasty in the AFC if they make it three straight. Other teams in the AFC are steadily improving year to year. Have the Chiefs done enough to keep themselves at the top of the NFL?
Kansas City Chiefs 2021 season preview
Despite being one of the top two teams the past two seasons, the Chiefs have only the 14th-toughest schedule in the NFL next year. They’re not forced into too many games against high-end franchises. The Bills, Packers, and Ravens are the three teams they must play that are projected to win 10 or more games.
They also play three teams projected to win less than seven games. They face the Eagles, Bengals, and Giants, helping bring their schedule down to an even amount of tough and easy battles. The rest of their contests come against mid-tier teams. However, games against the Cowboys, Chargers, Titans, and Washington look like intriguing matchups as we examine the Chiefs’ season preview.
Offseason additions and losses
For a team coming off back-to-back Super Bowls, the Chiefs turned the roster over in the offseason. They immediately cut ties with veteran offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz after the season. Many people believed that spelled the end for Kansas City’s offensive line, but that was far from the case. They acquired Joe Thuney and Mike Remmers in free agency and traded for Orlando Brown. The Chiefs even talked Kyle Long out of retirement to play guard for them.
Kansas City lost other keys players in the offseason. Damien Williams joined the Bears; Sammy Watkins took his talents to Baltimore. On defense, they lost Tanoh Kpassagnon, Damien Wilson, and Bashaud Breeland. On the other hand, the Chiefs added Jarran Reed and re-signed Daniel Sorensen to help even things out.
2021 NFL Draft
The Chiefs went after their needs hard in the 2021 NFL Draft, and it could pay dividends for them in the future. They spent their first of two second-round picks on Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton. Bolton is a fantastic run defender who processes information well to supplement his range. He also covers well in spot-drop zone concepts and is athletic enough to match running backs out of the backfield.
Their next selection was even better. Somehow, one of the best athletes ever at center in Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey fell to No. 63. His tape screamed first-rounder, and with his athletic testing, it seemed like a no-brainer. The Chiefs got a steal here.
Joshua Kaindoh and Noah Gray were both upside picks. Kaindoh was a highly-rated recruit who is still a moldable ball of clay coming out of Florida State. Gray is a move tight end who needs to become stronger as a blocker.
Cornell Powell plays bigger than his size would suggest. The 200-pound receiver stands at 6’0″ but has a long wingspan for a receiver that helps him finish in contested situations. Their next choice, Trey Smith, could be the biggest steal in the entire draft. He fell to Round 7 because of medical concerns. If he remains healthy, he has the potential to be a solid NFL starter.
Where do Kansas City players rank in PFN’s Top 100?
The Chiefs have six players on PFN’s Top 100 NFL Players rankings. Five of those players land inside the top 40.
100) Joe Thuney, Guard
A year after the Chiefs suffer massive injuries to their offensive line resulting in a Super Bowl defeat, Kansas City cut both tackles to make room for new acquisitions. One of those acquisitions was Thuney. The really great thing about Thuney’s game is that he’s not missed a contest in his five-year NFL career.
33) Tyrann Mathieu, Cornerback
Some regard Mathieu as the best safety in the league. His versatility is his calling card. He rushes the passer, covers the slot, defends the run, and plays the back half equally well.
29) Chris Jones, Defensive Tackle
If it weren’t for Aaron Donald, Jones would have a case for being the best interior defender in the NFL. In a passing league, only Donald fosters more fear in the hearts of opposing quarterbacks. The Chiefs’ defensive tackle is still improving, too.
17) Tyreek Hill, Wide Receiver
Hill is the most electric player in the league, save for maybe Lamar Jackson. There may be more technically refined receivers with better size, but nobody is scarier than Hill. And if other receivers are more technically refined, it’s not by much. Hill is a legitimate route runner who functions perfectly as a traditional receiver.
6) Travis Kelce, Tight End
Kelce is an outrageous weapon. His volume in 2020 was rivaled by only Darren Waller, who also had 145 targets. Kelce can separate from defenders and use his frame to box defenders out and finish contested catches. He’s used in creative ways offensively and allows the Chiefs to largely ignore their need for a high-end WR2.
2) Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback
If Donald were a human, this man would easily be the best player in the league. We’ve seen quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford make some of the throws Mahomes makes, but Mahomes does it seemingly on a weekly basis.
Chiefs 2021 prediction
Andy Reid isn’t just one of the best coaches in the NFL; he’s one of the best coaches of all time. His offenses continue to evolve, and he’s consistently received the most out of his quarterbacks.
Eric Bieniemy routinely gets talked about as a potential head coaching candidate, but he’s been passed over the last few seasons. Although he doesn’t call the plays for the Chiefs, he is one of the architects of one of the most creative offenses in the league.
There isn’t much to say about the Chiefs’ offense. They’ve been a top-five unit since Mahomes first took the field. Even before Mahomes arrived, the offense was consistently efficient. That shouldn’t change in 2021.
Kansas City’s defense probably won’t finish in the top 10 next year, but they don’t have to. As long as the offense continues to hum, the defense will have opportunities to turn the ball over as teams try to throw their way back into games.
2021 Chiefs record prediction
The Chiefs are in the middle of the pack in terms of schedule strength. Two of their tougher games come in the first two weeks. If they can go 2-0 in those games, they have a chance to win 14 contests. However, the NFL is a fickle beast. Las Vegas has the Chiefs winning 12 games. As long as they’re relatively healthy, 13-4 seems realistic for Kansas City’s season preview with Mahomes under center.
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