Another fall brings another NFL season for fans around the world to enjoy and gawk about at the water cooler.
This season, the opening game is between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots; the NFL’s reigning champions.
As the Patriots look to defend their title throughout the course of the season, the Chiefs are looking to get past the hump that they could call Divisional-Round exits. The Chiefs’ game plan in the Andy Reid era has been consistent with ground-and-pound football; running the ball often and having wide receiver routes primarily as a second option. In the Andy Reid era, there has only been one 1,000 yard-receiving years from a Chiefs’ wide receiver (this excludes TE Travis Kelce who has multiple). This shows the likelihood of the Chiefs having a true vertical threat; little to none. As long as they have a plethora of solid running backs (Rookie Kareem Hunt, Charandrick West and vet CJ Spiller) paired with Travis Kelce, the offense will still be a threat.
The Patriots will also have a myriad of running options this year in James White and Dion Lewis paired with Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee. They will be at a loss without Julian Edelman on the field, but hopefully finding a replacement at the slot shouldn’t be too hard with their talent.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, the wideout to watch for in filling Edelman’s role would be Malcolm Mitchell. The addition of Phillip Dorsett could also be for the slot position, but he has a history as a vertical threat for Indianapolis. Still, I’m not going to pretend like I know Bill’s formula. It’s possible Dorsett moves to the slot and lives up to the hype of an early round draft pick in a new role.
One thing to note going into the season is the New England defensive backfield. There are already star players in corner Malcolm Butler and safety Devin McCourty, but now the team has added a top corner in Stephon Gilmore as well. Aside from those three, they have a great starter in Patrick Chung and solid depth in safety Duron Harmon.
Although it’s tough to predict, the Patriots shouldn’t really have much of a struggle this season. Their commitment to execution puts Brady and Bill above and beyond the rest. Until they finish the back 9 of their careers, it’s tough to not make an AFC Championship game assumption each year.