The Comeback is previewing all 32 NFL teams from worst to first leading up to the start of the 2017 regular season on Sept. 7. We’ve now reached the top 10 on our preseason rankings. Cutting the tape are the enigmatic-but-scary Kansas City Chiefs.
2016 in a nutshell: Without supposed key players Justin Houston, Jamaal Charles, Jeremy Maclin and Tamba Hali healthy or productive for much of the year, and without a quarterback who can light up defenses deep, the Chiefs still managed to go 12-4 and win the mighty AFC West. Admit it, Andy Reid is good at what he does.
What’s different: Maclin and Charles are gone. Same with two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe and general manager John Dorsey, who was abruptly fired in June.
Charcandrick West e sua corrida de 50 jardas ??✔️! Será que ele conquistará uma vaga no elenco? E C.J. Spiller? pic.twitter.com/4e4L5rsQKq
— Chiefs Brazil (@ChiefsBrazil) August 20, 2017
Why they could be awesome: Quarterback Alex Smith might not be a gunslinger, but he doesn’t make mistakes and he’s still got a loaded arsenal of weapons including rising receiver/return man Tyreek Hill, top-notch tight end Travis Kelce and an exciting young running back combo in Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West. (Spencer Ware would have made it a trio, but he’s expected to miss the season with a torn PCL.)
Oh, and the defense should be better now that Houston says he’s gotten past the knee issues that caused him to miss 16 games the last two seasons. That unit ranked seventh in terms of points allowed in 2016.
Why they could suck: Strapped for salary cap space, the Chiefs got worse on paper in the offseason. They didn’t use their first-round pick on a player who is supposed to play in 2017 and for some reason they released their top receiver and fired their GM in freakin’ June.
Major additions: Defensive tackle Bennie Logan comes cheap and has the ability to step in for the departed Poe. They also traded up to draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes II in the first round, but it’s a bad sign if he’s on the field early this season.
Major losses: Charles, Maclin, Poe, Dorsey.
Tyreek Hill Top Plays Of The 2016-2017 Season? pic.twitter.com/LrPh7iFhCU
— Greatest Highlights (@Highlightmix1) August 8, 2017
Breakout watch: Hill became the first player in NFL history to score at least three touchdowns as a rusher, receiver and returner as a rookie last season, and he’s expected to play a much larger role now that Maclin is gone. We could be looking at a superstar in the making.
Position to watch: Running back is very intriguing because most figured the starting job would go to Ware after the 25-year-old accumulated 1,368 scrimmage yards in 14 games last season, but Hunt — a rookie third-rounder — has received a ton of buzz. Throw in that West has been on fire as well and they might have three really good options.
Prediction: Don’t look at the quarterback and this team is as good as the Raiders, maybe better. But again, Smith isn’t a major liability. He doesn’t win you many games, but he also doesn’t lose you many games. The Chiefs are talented and well-coached and if that late GM firing weirdness wasn’t a bad omen, they should again make the playoffs with double-digit wins. Unfortunately, though, that might be their ceiling.
10-6, 2nd place in the AFC West