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Reminiscing On Colts’ Preseason Predictions

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Dec 30, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts middle linebacker Anthony Walker (50) celebrates with fans after a win against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts are in the playoffs. Holy cow! Winning 9 of 10 games to end the season after a 1-5 start, the Colts have snuck into the playoffs. For the first time since 2016, the Colts will be playing football in January.

Many people had questions about the Colts before the season. People questioned the Frank Reich hiring after the Josh McDaniels Fiasco. People questioned Chris Ballard’s offseason decisions. They questioned whether Andrew Luck would ever be good again. I myself predicted the Colts to finish 7-9 before the season, which was a wildly optimistic take at the time. Because it is almost 2019, nothing on the internet is forgotten. Here is a look at some of the best takes about the Colts throughout the season.

Many people weren’t too happy with Chris Ballard throughout the season, and called for his firing. There is, though, a reason he is an Executive of the Year candidate and we are not.

10-6 is the only stat I care about.

Andrew Luck probably doesn’t start on the Chiefs. Darius Leonard doesn’t start on the Panthers. T.Y. Hilton doesn’t start on the Steelers. This guy has a point.

But Andrew Norwell and Allen Robinson, right?

Frank Reich didn’t trade away two Pro-Bowlers, fortunately.

Most of the media predicted the Colts to be the cellar dwellers of the NFL, as seen below.

Hey, they beat the Bengals!

Just two wins against Tennessee, right.

Is this backwards power ranking day?

I mean Alabama is going to win the national title, so nothing wrong here.

I don’t even know where to begin here.

People weren’t too happy with Chris Ballard’s draft, which netted what should have been two Pro-Bowlers and many key pieces for the future.

Well because that guard is going to move to tackle and become an important keystone piece, duh!

This is the worst one. For sure.

So many good players we could have had, Uchenna Nwosu or Brian O’Neill to name a few.

I will bite you.

Not Andy’s finest moment.

One guy got it right!

It would be rude to not include some of my own former pessimism here.

Facts— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) October 31, 2018

I would be remiss if I omitted our good friend Jacob Infante’s Andrew Luck tweets. He really is a smart guy, by the way.

Let me preface this by saying @jacobinfante24 is a close friend of ours. He is a great football mind but was also our resident Andrew Luck hater. Since it’s #TwitterReceipts season, let’s go through some of his best takes.— FPC Colts (@FPC_Colts) November 19, 2018

And last but certainly not least, let’s not forget Maxx Hotton’s fantastic video of some of the best takes about Andrew Luck.

In honor of @ALBookClub performance today we put a little video together… #TwitterReciepts pic.twitter.com/erZXXNiNAX— FPC Colts (@FPC_Colts) October 1, 2018

Let’s put all of these old takes behind us. Onto the playoffs!

Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.

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Chiefs-Raiders Preview: Secure Home Field

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After two crushing losses, the Chiefs still have a chance to clinch the AFC’s number one seed this Sunday against their longtime rival Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are ready to play spoiler. As Andy Reid said earlier this week, the Chiefs know what they need to do to take care of business this week. “My message to the team is to go play,” Reid mentioned. “Let your personalities show and go play. I think that is the most important thing. If you get caught up in everything, that becomes an issue and then you’re not yourself.” If the Chiefs take care of things, they will have the luxury of playing at Arrowhead throughout the entire postseason. Let’s get to this Chiefs-Raiders preview.

Lean On Me

As great as it was to see Damien Williams get going last week, the Chiefs rushing offense wasn’t good enough to beat the Seahawks last week. Instead, let Patrick Mahomes try and lead you down the field more. During one drive last week, Mahomes took the Chiefs offense down the field quickly, kicking and screaming. Mahomes was hitting on throw after throw, against pretty good coverage from the Seahawks. Even back in the first meeting with Oakland this season, the Raiders were doing all they could to stop Mahomes. He basically lifted the team to a win by himself, escaping pressure and throwing bullets right through defender’s hands. The more times Mahomes gets the chance to let it fly, the chances are more likely that the offense is in a better rhythm.

A Dependable Carr

Derek Carr does not have the eye-popping numbers that other signal callers have this season. But, he has quietly played respectably throughout the second half of this season. Carr has not thrown an interception since Week 5, which shows that he has been making good decisions when passing.

Going back to that first matchup in Oakland, Carr was able to beat the Chiefs in any part of the field. Whether it was outside, over the middle or short, the Chiefs blew coverages a good share of the time. Carr had three touchdowns and led the Raiders offense well in that game. If it wasn’t for the trifecta of fumbles by the Oakland offense, who knows if the Chiefs would have still beaten the Raiders in that contest.

Latest Chiefs News

Bring the Heat

On the flip side of the Raiders passing game, we must look towards the Chiefs pass rush. If Kansas City can jump out to an early lead, then the defense could be in for a whopping to put on Carr. Oakland has allowed the fifth-most sacks (49) in the league. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have produced that same number in sacks. Rushing the passer has been arguably the best part of the Chiefs defense.

Last week, Chris Jones set a new NFL record for recording a sack for an eleventh straight game. There’s also been added talk about Xavier Williams this week. He doesn’t register many sacks, but he could be more motivated this week. The hometown KC kid gets his first chance as a member of the Chiefs to play against this rival at Arrowhead Stadium. Finally, you can’t rule out the ability of Dee Ford and Justin Houston in division contests.

Matchup to Watch: Chiefs Rushing Offense vs. Raiders Run Defense

The Chiefs were able to freeze the Raiders front in the first matchup by misdirection, reverse fakes and rushing outside the tackles. Oakland has allowed at least 100 rushing yards in eight of their nine games after their bye week. Look for the Chiefs to force the Raiders to have to make reads on outside zone runs and possible reverses.

Statistical Notes

The Chiefs have a few offensive players that could set historic marks in this game. First, Mahomes has a chance to become the youngest quarterback since Dan Marino to throw for at least 5,000 yards and also he could become the youngest quarterback to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season. Second, Travis Kelce is a mere 54 receiving yards away for setting the record for receiving yards in a single season by a tight end. Lastly, Tyreek Hill is 14 yards away from becoming the Chiefs all-time leader in receiving yards for a single season. It’s quite possible that both Tyreek and Kelce finish as the top two all time, in the same season.

We mentioned how Derek Carr has been dependable as of late. But it’s safe to say, he has struggled at Arrowhead. In his career, he has averaged just 186 passing yards per game at KC. Also, he owns a touchdown to interception ratio of 3:3, has an average quarterback rating of just 62.8 and is 0-4 all-time at Arrowhead.

Thank you for reading. Enjoy this 2018 regular-season finale, preceding what will hopefully be a long playoff run for the Chiefs. You can follow along at Full Press Coverage, during the entirety of the NFL post-season.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs Opinion: Eric Berry Can Save Chiefs Defense

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The Chiefs are coming off of a loss where the defense blew a fourteen point lead. It’s hard to feel any better about this unit that seems to be going into a nosedive at the wrong time of the season. But if there’s one guy who can bring enough effort to save this defense, it’s Eric Berry.

When Berry returned last game, it was the first time he had stepped on the field in over fifteen months. Since he left the opening game in the 2017 season with a torn Achilles, Berry had served basically as an assistant coach for the Chiefs defense. He also continued to be a motivational leader for the team as well. Berry looked really good in his return as if he had not missed any games at all. Berry flew around, running through blocks to create tackles.

Due to the amount of time he missed though, Berry was on a pitch count and only played in the first half of the loss to the Chargers and his presence was deeply missed in the second half. Kansas City likely comes away with a win if Berry would have played in the second half. The Chiefs allowed almost a whole yard more per rush attempt without Berry, compared to when he was in. Plus, the accountability was not there, especially in the final two and a half minutes.

Counting on Accountability

Let’s look at that for a second. The accountability of the Chiefs defense seems to come in spurts. When the defense can only come through every once in a while, the Chiefs have been handcuffed into running a more simple defense.

With Berry in the fold, the accountability will not be as much of a worry. The Chiefs though have a need to change up their looks more. When defensive coordinator Bob Sutton disguises different looks that is where he has had success.

Sutton: Success or Suck?

Now let’s take a look at the Chiefs defense as a whole since Sutton became the defensive coordinator in 2013. In 2013-15, Kansas City’s defense was in the top ten in total defense, passing defense and scoring defense in at least two of those three years in all three categories. Afterwards, in 2016-18, Kansas City’s defense is in the bottom in all three categories all three years. Also, Sutton’s defense was top ten in points allowed per drive every year, except for the last two seasons. In 2017 and 2018, the Chiefs defense was in the bottom twelve in that category in both seasons. Bottom line, what used to work for Sutton’s defense has been figured out by opposing offenses.

When you look at Berry’s importance in this defense, you can see how much they have fallen without him over the years. His ability to create plays for others on the defense by getting into the right spot and disrupting the opposing offense’s plans is where Berry brings so much to everyone on the team.

Latest Chiefs News

By helping to improve in run defense, the Chiefs can put Berry in the box to help contain the running game. By trying to do that with Ron Parker, Daniel Sorensen or even Eric Murray does not provide a solution at all. We mentioned how Berry blows through blocks, but his ability to recognize where the run is going is something that he seems to solely posses among the Chiefs safeties. Berry is also more capable of being disciplined in man or zone coverage, which is something the other aforementioned safeties have struggled on this season. They brought back Parker at the end of the preseason because he “knew the playbook.” But, that seems to have not been enough. Berry is someone who knows the playbook better than anyone, and he will try to make his teammates right.

Eric Berry has had to deal with overcoming a torn ACL, cancer and a torn Achilles. The hope he brings to his teammates is insurmountable. So, if he looks as good as he did in the first half against the Chargers though, the Chiefs may have received just enough of a boost at the right time in the season.

Thank you for reading this opinion piece. For more great takes regarding every sport, be sure to check out Full Press Coverage.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs-Chargers Recap: Chargers Comeback, Stun Chiefs

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Chiefs-Chargers

Wait, what? Did that really just happen? The Chiefs were up by fourteen with 3:49 to play, how did they lose that game? Those are just some of the questions Chiefs fans were asking when the game ended in a swift and heartbreaking fashion. The Chargers scored two touchdowns and converted on a two-point conversion in a span of 3:45 and only had to lead for four seconds to get the victory. Now let’s breakdown the different parts of this Chiefs-Chargers game.

Three and a Half Quarters of Good

The Chiefs started out hot four drives into the game. It took just two plays from scrimmage before Steven Nelson intercepted Philip Rivers. Then with a short field, Kansas City found the end zone. Patrick Mahomes had one of the longest rollouts a quarterback could have and found Demarcus Robinson throwing back across his body. Following the first score, the Chargers were forced to punt and the Chiefs scored another touchdown on the ensuing possession. KC’s screen game was putting the Chargers in a bind. A screen pass that led to a score that gave Darrel Williams his first career touchdown.

Even though the Chargers would get on the board, it was the defenses that dominated the rest of the first half. The Chiefs were forced to punt twice and Rivers chalked up another awful throw that led to an interception in the end zone for the Chiefs defense.

Both teams scored touchdowns on their first drives of the second half, with prolonged possessions. Each defense stuffed the opposing offense in the next two respective drives, forcing punts by both teams. Then, Kansas City had one of their longest possessions of the season. A thirteen play drive that resulted in a touchdown run by Damien Williams ate up just around eight minutes off the clock and there was only 8:15 to play in regulation. Things were looking pretty for the Chiefs, up 28-14.

Rivers Takes Over

Rivers and the Chargers seemingly hit on any pass play to get within a score. Even when the Chiefs would force the Chargers to have to convert on third or fourth down, Kansas City’s defense could not make the play needed or would commit a costly penalty.

With the Chiefs now leading by just seven, things still felt in place for a Kansas City win. With Patrick Mahomes and his arsenal of weapons, it was surprising to see what would happen on their final drive.

The Chiefs already had to start on their own eleven-yard line for a block in the back penalty on the kickoff return. The first play of the drive, Damien Williams had no shot and was stopped for a loss of three yards. Mahomes would find Tyreek Hill on second down, but a third and long was still looming following the completion. Then another penalty, a false start on Demetrius Harris, put the Chiefs in a similar situation to the Ravens game. But, Mahomes couldn’t lift the Chiefs offense out of a hole this time and was sacked all the way back at the Kansas City six-yard line. The Chiefs had to punt again and the Chargers only needed sixty yards to go to reach the end zone and had plenty of time left on the clock.

Latest Chiefs News

Overall, the Chiefs offense played well. They converted on all four times in the red zone and no giveaways were committed. What’s crazy, Mahomes has completed two-thirds of his passes, thrown for just over a thousand yards and has twelve touchdowns to five interceptions in the Chiefs combined losses. The offense has also scored forty, forty-four and twenty-eight points respectively in the losses. According to NFL Research, the Chiefs have averaged 39.7 points per game in their losses, which is the most in a single season in the Super Bowl era. Hard to play much better, other than the turnovers in the Rams game.

Rivers would find Mike Williams for both a touchdown and a two-point conversion with four seconds to play and no one in Arrowhead Stadium could believe it. This was a drive where Rivers made throws that were perfect and he continues to make the season better each week for the Chargers and himself. This is truly one of the best teams they have had in a while.

Pitfalls of the Chiefs

There were a few different things that led to the Chiefs costing themselves in this game and blowing it.

Penalties

To be frank, there were some awful penalty calls in this game, but it went both ways. It’s not the only game where the officiating has been a big part of the game. Due to the continuous rule changes, refs have to constantly wonder what they’re supposed to look at. They need Dean Blandino back soon.

But it wasn’t just this game, the Chiefs have been the most penalized team all season long. In the preview of this game, we mentioned how the Chiefs defensive backs play too handsy. This leads to calls that hurt them in the most inopportune time. The Chiefs penalties on the offensive side of the ball have increased in the last few weeks. As we mentioned with the false starts, they can’t always rely on Mahomes to save them in a dangerous situation.

Defenseless Defense

The defense has made some stops at big moments this season. However, they are not good enough to be relied on in all the big moments. This defense has given up a lot of yards, but now they are starting to give up too many big plays. Fans have felt like defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has been no bueno for a few years now. The way this defense is designed, its luck has possibly run out of time. The defense is strictly too simple for the high octane offenses of today’s NFL.

Playing constantly the same pass coverage is going to get beat eventually by very good quarterbacks like Rivers. Kendall Fuller played about as good as he could have on that fourth down completion Travis Benjamin on the game-winning drive. But with the Kansas City constantly trying to force things to the outside in man coverage, all Rivers had to do was throw it to the inside of Fuller and hit Benjamin for a first down. The Chiefs just do not take enough chances to change their defensive scheme throughout the game, and it’s not a system that can produce constantly.

Where Things Stand

The Chiefs and Chargers are now tied at 11-3. Kansas City still sits as the division leader and number one seed in the AFC, as they control their own destiny. Though now, the Chiefs have to play in one of the toughest environments for primetime games in Seattle. The Seahawks have been one of the better surprises this season as well. The Chargers have two tough matchups left, but they have shown that they can beat almost anybody and win in almost any venue. The Chiefs will need to perform highly superior against the Seahawks though, and likely win out to win the division and secure home-field advantage. They can’t dwell on this loss too long and fix what they can to get better.

Thank you for reading this Chiefs-Chargers recap. Enjoy the remainder of week 15. Be sure to check out Full Press Coverage for more great sports content.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

NFL Draft: Players to Watch in Saturday’s Bowl Games

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EAST LANSING, MI - AUGUST 31: Darwin Thompson #5 of the Utah State Aggies celebrate his fourth quarter touchdown with Dax Raymond #87 and Quin Ficklin #51 while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on August 31, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State won the game 38-31. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Saturdays Bowl Games promise the start of an exciting period of the college football season: Bowl Game Season. The match-ups alone make this one of the best parts of the season, but it helps when schools have big time players getting their final shot to prove themselves before they leave to play on Sundays.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and five bowl games kick off on Saturday. Here is a list of prospects that you should know about to watch and start preparing for the NFL Draft. 

The Cure Bowl

Opponents: Tulane Green Wave (6-6) Vs ULL Ragin’-Cajuns (7-6).
Preview: Orlando, Florida. 1:30 PM ET on CBSSN.
Prospects List:
Tulane TE Charles Jones (RS-Sr)
Tulane CB Donnie Lewis Jr (RS-Sr)
Tulane S Roderic Teamer Jr (Sr)

The Sun Belt generally doesn’t have many prospects, but the American Athletic Conference is doing a good job to seriously strike up a conversation to start addressing the Power Six. None of these prospects are considered elite, but could end up being decent late round picks or impact un-drafted free agents. 

December 06, 2014: Tulane Green Wave tight end Charles Jones (84) is tackled by Temple Owls defensive back Nate L. Smith (13) during the game between Tulane and Temple on Benson Field at Yulman Stadium in New Orleans, LA. Game is tied 3-3 at halftime. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)

Charles Jones is a good blocking tight end that could impact in a power run scheme. He has very good size and doesn’t offer too much to a passing game. He does have 8 receiving touchdowns in his career. Unfortunately for him, he has also struggled to stay healthy, missing 13 games over his four years to ankle and foot injuries.

Donnie Lewis has done well for himself in his career at Tulane, intercepting 7 passes and defending 36 in his 43 games at the university. He has decent size, but is somewhat limited athletically and will struggle with faster receivers. He is a good tackler though, and can offer support in the run game. 

Roderick Teamer is the teams second leading tackler this season, and overall a decent player. Teamer could end up on a special teams unit and make his way into a starting rotation in a zone defense. 

New Mexico Bowl

Opponents: Utah State Aggies (10-2) Vs North Texas Mean Green (9-3)
Preview: Albuquerque, NM. 2:00 PM ET ESPN
Prospect List:
Utah State TE Dax Raymond (RS-Jr, Declared)
North Texas LB E.J. Ejiya (RS-Sr)

FAYETTEVILLE, AR – SEPTEMBER 15: North Texas Mean Green linebacker E.J. Ejiya (22) attempts to rush the quarterback during the North Texas Mean Green 44-17 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks on September 15, 2018, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Dax Raymond is a guy who took a lot of people by surprise when he declared almost immediately after the regular season came to a close. After inspecting his tape, I found him to be a mid-round prospect with a little bit of an injury history that can be overlooked by his athleticism on the field. He is very athletic, possibly the fastest tight end in the class. He will have one more game to showcase his skill-set in front of NFL Scouts on the field. 

E.J. Ejiya is a tackling machine. This past season, he accumulated 113 tackles, 23.5 of them for loss, and 9 sacks. He finished his career with 16 sacks and 39 tackles for loss from the middle linebacker spot. Teams will certainly be taking a look at this man as he has some athleticism that could be useful at the next level. 

Las Vegas Bowl

Opponents: Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5) Vs Fresno State Bulldogs (11-2).
Preview: Las Vegas, NV, 3:30 PM ET on ABC.
Prospect List:
Fresno State WR KeeSean Johnson (RS-Sr)
Arizona State OT Casey Tucker (RS-Sr)
Arizona State IDL Renell Wren (RS-Sr)

PASADENA, CA – SEPTEMBER 15: Fresno State Bulldogs wide receiver KeeSean Johnson (3) catches a pass during the game between the Fresno State Bulldogs and the UCLA Bruins on September 15, 2018, at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. (Photo by David Dennis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

KeeSean Johnson will be the player who gets the most media coverage at this game, since Arizona State’s WR N’Keal Harry will be skipping it. Johnson is a solid collage receiver, and has produced magnificently at this level. Johnson owns 273 career receptions and 24 touchdowns, and was a reliable option all four years of his collegiate career. Johnson projects as a later round pick, but could potentially raise his stock in this game and, potentially, the combine. 

Arizona State’s Renell Wren is one interior lineman that will be on many draft boards, more as a mid round prospect. Wren eats space well and tackles when given the opportunity. Will definitely be a solid back-up in the league for years to come. 

Casey Tucker is a potential late round pick that could impact a team down the stretch. I haven’t personally seen film on him yet, but I will be in this game. I hear he’s a very strong individual with a forward lean problem. 

The other Bowl Games

The other two bowl games of the night, the Camellia Bowl and the New Orleans Bowl, don’t feature any guys that we expect to talk about in the draft class. You can still see the previews to those games below, as our team at Full Press Coverage tirelessly works to bring you all of the football coverage you can digest or need. 

Camellia Bowl Preview.

New Orleans Bowl Preview. 

Chiefs-Ravens Recap: Resilient Rally In OT

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The Chiefs-Ravens game delivered as one of the best matches of not only Week 14 but for all of 2018. Kansas City pulled out a gutsy win against a Ravens team that gave them their most challenging test at Arrowhead this season. There were so many wow moments in this game, and it made for a playoff-like contest. Let’s start breaking this one down.

Win of the Year?

As good as the comeback win was on Monday Night Football in Denver, this was the Chiefs best victory of the season. The Ravens entered this game having a real chance to try and stifle the Chiefs. The Ravens formula is perfect to counteract the Chiefs. You have Lamar Jackson‘s ability to freeze defenders with the read option. Because of that, Baltimore was the best rushing team in football over the last three weeks. And finally, the Ravens defense was the best defense in football. With all that, the Chiefs still found a way to win the game.

But how did they do it? The Chiefs and their in-game adjustments, allowed them to make enough plays to sink the Ravens in overtime.

Kansas City held the Ravens to their fewest rushing yards since Jackson became the starter. Also, the Chiefs run defense made some stops that may get forgotten. For example, coming out of the two-minute warning before halftime, they held Gus Edwards to no gain on a 2nd and 8 attempt. That allowed for the Chiefs to use a timeout, and forced the Ravens to attempt a pass on 3rd and 8. An incomplete pass by Jackson stopped the clock, and the Chiefs took over and tacked on a field goal as the half expired. Then you have a couple of back-to-back stops when the Ravens had just passed midfield. After giving up 6 yards on 1st and 10, the Chiefs made two straight stops on Ravens running plays that resulted in a turnover on downs.

Latest Chiefs News

Kansas City made enough stops, and had long enough drives themselves, which held Baltimore’s time of possession to the lowest it had been with Jackson running the offense. This forced Baltimore to have to throw it more, which allowed the pass to pressure Jackson and prevent him from being too perfect.

Finally, the Chiefs went up against the best defense, yet Patrick Mahomes still threw for 377 yards and he completed plenty of unorthodox throws. You have the no-look pass that went viral, which happened during a two-minute drill, by the way. Then you have a 21-yard completion to Tyreek Hill in a 3rd and 19 situation, which kept the drive alive. Subsequently, the Chiefs ended up scoring a TD to close that drive.

Another crazy attempt that worked, was a throw across the field from Mahomes left to right where he hit Travis Kelce in traffic. Finally, the one that mattered the most in the outcome, was a 4th and 9 play. Mahomes rolled right and threw across his body, into the middle of the field and found Tyreek for an unbelievable completion. Mahomes led the Chiefs with that performance without Sammy Watkins and the newly signed Kelvin Benjamin as well.

Cutting Down On Mistakes

The Chiefs still have to tighten up in some aspects. However, heading into the home stretch of the season, there have been some improvements. The penalties are still a factor, but Kansas City did not commit as many penalties in this game as the Ravens. The Chiefs accounted for only 53 penalty yards, a total which was more than doubled by the Ravens.

Kansas City also improved on third down defense from the week before. The Raiders were 75% on third down the week before, whereas the Ravens only converted on 41% of third downs. Baltimore also only converted on one of three fourth-down attempts, including the Chiefs holding them on a 4th and inches run attempt.

Home Sweet Home

The Chiefs defense may not be the best, but it’s so much more different when they are at home. We mentioned the adjustments they made to stop Jackson and the running game in big situations. The defense was able to hang around in the fourth quarter to force Jackson to fumble. Even though Harrison Butker missed the game-winning field goal at the end of regulation, the defense made the last stop to hold off the Ravens.

This win was also significant for the Chiefs in the AFC Playoff Picture. Kansas City clinched a playoff berth with the win. Plus, with the Patriots, Texans and Steelers all losing, with a couple of wacky endings, Kansas City now holds a two-game lead for the race for home-field advantage. Now it’s on to a Thursday night contest where they host the Chargers, with a chance to clinch the AFC West.

Thank you for reading. Enjoy this short week before the next Chiefs game. Stay tuned to Full Press Coverage for content on that and another week 15 matchups.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs-Ravens Preview: Something’s Got To Give

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Week 14 pits the Ravens traveling to Arrowhead to take on the Chiefs in a high-stakes game where there are playoff implications for both teams. The Ravens come into this one currently on their hottest stretch of the season. Baltimore is currently only a half game behind the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers. Meanwhile, the Chiefs continue to roll, but the AFC West rival Chargers continue to stay on their tail. As we head into the week, the Chargers only trail the Chiefs by a game in the AFC West standings. There are many matchups in this game where something’s got to give. Let’s take a look at some of them heading into Sunday’s Chiefs-Ravens matchup.

Top Offense vs Top Defense

Earlier in the season when we were heading into the Chiefs’ Week 5 matchup vs the Jaguars, the matchup pit the Chiefs number one offense vs Jacksonville’s number one defense. That’s exactly where we are at again heading into this game. The Chiefs are number one in points per game, while the Ravens are number one in points allowed per game. We saw the Jaguars talk the talk, but they couldn’t walk the walk. Also after the loss to the Chiefs, the Jags went 1-7 in their following portion of the season.

That’s where the Ravens are different. Their defense has been respected for a long time, and throughout this entire franchise’s history, defense has been the main staple of this team. So compared to most teams, they can talk the talk and also walk the walk, matching up well with most offenses.

But has the Baltimore defense ever faced someone like Patrick Mahomes? Plus, Sammy Watkins is doubtful and newly signed Kelvin Benjamin is unlikely to be ready already, so if Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce don’t produce, younger guys will have to step up. That’s one matchup that will be entertaining to watch on Sunday.

Latest Chiefs News

Running Wild

It’s no secret the Chiefs have struggled against the run for most of the season. They currently rank 20th in rushing defense, allowing 122 yards per game. Kansas City also is tied with two other teams for most yards allowed per rushing attempt, at 5.1. They will have to hold on against a perpetual Baltimore running game.

During the Ravens three-game winning streak, they have carried the rock 145 times. Which is a staggering 48.3 rushing attempts per game. With that steady feeding of the run game, the Ravens eat up a lot of clock. That means the Chiefs defense must make the stops when needed, and the KC offense needs to reach the end zone consistently. It’s not just dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson either. Baltimore allows for four different running backs to get involved in the ground attack, as well (Gus Edwards, Javorius Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Ty Montgomery). The Ravens aren’t afraid to throw in a reverse with a receiver either.

There will plenty of focus just on Jackson, who is 3-0 now as a starter. And let’s be honest, Jackson provides a much more severe matchup to Kansas City’s defense than veteran Joe Flacco, whom Jackson took over for due to injury. Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton mentioned earlier in the week that the Chiefs have “never faced a QB as fast as Lamar Jackson.”

Matchups to Watch: Both Teams Offensive Lines vs Both Teams Defensive Front

We’ll double down here on the matchup to watch, by looking at the trenches for both sides of the ball between both teams. The Chiefs (5th) and the Ravens (7th) offensive lines are both top seven in sacks allowed respectively. On the other hand, both teams’ pass rush are also in the top ten in sacks. The Chiefs are 2nd in sacks believe it or not, and the Ravens are 9th. Both teams quarterbacks can also escape pressure with their legs, beat the blitz by getting the pass out quickly and are able to make insane passing attempts on the run work. If either team’s pass rush can consistently corral the opposing quarterback, then that could provide a big difference in the outcome.

Statistical Notes

The Mahomes stat to know this week – he has more passing touchdowns in 12 games this season (41) than the Ravens do in their last 32 games (39).

The Ravens have not allowed a pass catcher to have a 100-yard receiving game this season. Yet, the Chiefs have had 12 individual 100-yard receiving games.

Even though the Chiefs and Ravens have split the all-time series at four games apiece, the Ravens have never lost at Arrowhead Stadium. Mahomes and Co. will be looking to right that ship on Sunday.

Thank you for reading this Chiefs-Ravens preview. Remember to check out all of the great content offered by Full Press Coverage.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

FPC Buccaneers Round Table: Can Dirk Koetter Save His Job?

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Buccaneers


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have put together arguably their best two-game stretch all season. All three phases of the team are playing well and complimenting each other which may be making the decision to move on from current Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter at the end of the season. 

Continuity always seems to play a key in how the Glazer family wants to run their organization. It goes to say, if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can somehow win out their remaining schedule, would it be enough for them to trust Koetter, again, for another season. 

This is the question we presented to the writing staff this week: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on a two game win streak and playing significantly better in all three phases of the game. Is there a possibility Head Coach Dirk Koetter is brought back next season if the team does win its remaining games?

Jeremy Marrow

Four games remain. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on a two-game winning streak. If they win out could we see Dirk Koetter back nextseason?

Take a trip with me back in time. The year: 2016. The Buccaneers had three wins and five losses. Then week 10 rolled around. TheBuccaneers peeled off five wins in a row and eventually ended the season nine and seven. Hopes were high rolling into the offseason.

2017: Acquisitions were made, players were drafted, and the Bucs rolled into the preseason. The season got into full swing but for the Buccaneers, it was not meant to be. Two losing streaks of five games each sank the team. All hope was dashed.

2018. The year came with the same offseason hopes and aspirations. This time dashed early with a Winston suspension. With the season opener, all hope was restored as Ryan Fitzmagic downed the New Orleans Saints. Then the Buccaneers sank. Winston came in as the starter, then he was benched. It seemed as if the team was cursed. Now the team is riding a two-game winning streak. If the Buccaneers win the next four games, it could propel them to the playoffs. That would require some outside help. If they get that help and secure a wild-card spot, Dirk Koetter may have very well have saved his job. If the result is a missed playoff berth, then I believe he is jettisoned even if they win out.

Dustin Flecther

I do not believe that Dirk Koetter will return. If that were the case, Tampa Bay would have been more active at the trade deadline with acquiring players like Landon Collins for a second round pick, which in my opinion would have been well worth a premier safety in the NFL.

The team also may have been more aggressive in getting draft picks for Desean Jackson. If the team makes the playoffs, it would be a situation like the one in Tennessee with Head Coach Mike Mularkey being fried after a second-round playoff exit, which I believe would be the absolute ceiling with Tampa Bay given the deficiencies in the secondary in an increasingly pass happy league. I envision Tampa Bay going with a defensive coach in the offseason to remedy their known issues.

Rod Thurman

Of course, there is a possibility that Dirk Koetter can save his job. If his Buccaneers can run the table he’d have a few in his favor. For one, he’ll still be under contract. He’d have a record of 9-7 for two of his three seasons as head coach. The Bucs offense is Koetter’s strong suit and will end up being one of the league’s best. They’ve been ranked the number one in passing and total offense for most of the season.

Couple all of that with the fact that he has already fired his buddy and defensive coordinator, Mike Smith. Since Smith’s departure, the defense has been gradually improving and now the team look formidable. Koetter can point to Smith’s defense and ineffectiveness as the culprit for under performing.

Last but not least, the progression of Jameis Winston down the stretch of this season could definitely save Koetter’s job. Winston has been playing some of the best football of his career after getting benched. The main reason Koetter was hired as head coach for the Bucs was to develop Winston. If Winston continues to play at a high level in these final four games, Koetter might just find his himself back in Tampa Bay.

Brian Defeo 

If and only if the Bucs win out, they have a chance to make the playoffs. If they win two of the next four, going 8-8, I think Dirk Koetter keeps his job as Buccaneers head coach. The Buccaneers have been playing better in all three phases and it just took the removal of Mike Smith and some time for this team to come together.

The offense was not the issue, the defense was the issue. While the offense needed better play calling, Dirk Koetter had surrendered his duty to Todd Monken and the red zone offense has improved. Their defense under Mark Duffner has gone from league worst to respectable, allowing under 20 points per game while at home.

They are home this week and defeating the New Orleans Saints would be a huge boost of confidence for Buccaneers ownership. Dirk Koetter will be gone if they lose in blowouts or lose more than two of their final four games.

This team is close and they just have to get over the hump, but the biggest question that should be asked is Dirk Koetter that guy. It didn’t look that way at times, but this team always seems to get just close enough. Personally, I’d like to see a change, unless they make the playoffs because the stubbornness of Koetter set this team back this season, what could it do next season.

Chris Worthen

The Bucs are on a two-game win streak. Defense is night and day and I haven’t had to pray for the kicker to make his kicks. Not to mention the offense is playing turnover-free football. Life is good. 

A few weeks ago if you would have asked me if Dirk Koetter was as good as gone I would have 100 percent agreed. Now I’m not so sure that is the case.  Lately, this team is playing complimentary football in all phases. 

What would it take for Koetter to keep his job? For starters, the Bucs would have to continue winning. I think 8-8 or 9-7 likely means that Koetter will remain the head coach for next year. 

Another important thing that Koetter will have to answer for to the Glazers is, “do you believe in Jameis Winston?”. Depending on how Koetter answers that question will decide his fate with the team. Winston isn’t going anywhere in 2019 so if Koetter doesn’t believe in Winston there’s no reason to keep him on as head coach. 

The last question would have to be what are you going to do with your staff? Staff changes need to be made starting with George Warhop who has had the responsibility of being the run game and offensive line caller. This is something Warhop has failed in since the 2016 season he’s failed. What are you going to do with the defensive coordinator? Will Duffner stay as DC or do they look elsewhere? 

This is what Koetter will have to decide if he wants to keep his job. First things first though,  just keep winning baby! 

J.T. Olsen

Dirk Koetter was brought here to be the head coach for several reasons. Develop Jameis Winston, create a great offense, and get this team back into the playoffs. He had fallen short of meeting these goals coming into the season and had to deliver in year three.

I’d argue that he has been successful in two of these areas. However, the third area is looking like a long shot. In the NFL it’s a results-based business and two out of three just isn’t good enough. It seems clear that if the Buccaneers miss the playoffs then Koetter will be fired.

However, if the unthinkable should happen and this team actually makes the playoffs after digging itself a huge hole, then why shouldn’t Koetter keep his job? Sure, he’s made mistakes along the way. Most notably allowing Mike Smith to continue to run the defense and benching Jameis Winston.

Those are choices Koetter made that cost this team wins. But keep in mind, he rectified those mistakes and will not be a problem moving forward. So at the end of the day, if Koetter gets this team to the playoffs and meeting all the expectations that were placed on him then he can save his job. So I’ll call it a slim chance that he is still the head coach in Tampa Bay next season.

Evann Goitia

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Dirk Koetter has missed the playoffs in each of his first two seasons with the team. With that being said, Koetter is still the most successful Buccaneer coach since Jon Gruden in terms of win percentage. He currently holds a 43.8% winning percentage, which is not where the organization wants to be.

However, the coaches before Koetter include Lovie Smith (25%), Greg Schiano (34.4%), and Raheem Morris (35.4%). Raheem Morris was the longest tenured out of the aforementioned coaches with three seasons, whereas Schiano and Smith both were fired after two seasons. Based on winning percentages alone, Koetter deserves another season since Morris was given a third season. If the Buccaneers win the remainder of their games thisseason, Koetter’s win percentage will only increase.

Moving on from Mike Smith may have saved Dirk Koetter’s job for at least one more season. Under Mark Duffner, the defense has improved and has helped the Buccaneers win games against the 49ers and the Panthers.

JennaLaine of ESPN recently tweeted that under Mike Smith, the defense only had nine sacks, one interception, and was allowing 34.6 points per game. Under Mark Duffner, the defense has totaled 24 sacks (second in the NFL over the last seven games), six interceptions, and is only allowing 26 points per game.

The problem in Tampa Bay has been defense all season. If the team continues to win, the defense continues to surge, Cairo Santos continues to be reliable, and the offense stays away from turnovers, DirkKoetter is likely to be the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next season.

Philip Schwegler 

What a roller coaster of a season it has been for Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Head Coach Dirk Koetter. Your starting quarterback is suspended for the first few games and you have to rely on a journeyman career backup quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Not to mention the quarterback carousel Koetter orchestrated when Jameis Winston did return to action. 

Looking back at the first half of the season, Koetter had every opportunity to cut ties with long time friend and former Bucs’ defensive coordinator, Mike Smith, before some of those games really got out of control. 

I say all of this to make my point. Dirk Koetter will have to pay for his mistakes come the post season. The Glazers will have a sit down with him, as they do every season, and grade out his performance as head coach. Even if the Buccaneers somehow win every last game on the schedule, I do not believe it’s enough to save his job given the many opportunities that were laid out in front of him to make this team succeed. 

Chiefs Sign Kelvin Benjamin

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Kelvin Benjamin

The Chiefs signed wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin late Tuesday. The 27-year old wideout was released by the Bills early in the week and went unclaimed on waivers. His first visit wound up being with Kansas City. After the visit, Benjamin signed a one year deal through the rest of the season for around $185,000.

Let’s take a quick look at Benjamin’s career so far.

  • Benjamin is a former first-round pick from the 2014 NFL Draft. After leaving Florida State, the Carolina Panthers selected Benjamin 28th overall in 2014. That rookie season was his best statistically of his career. He hauled in 73 catches for just over 1,000 yards and reached the end zone 9 times.
  • In 2015, the Panthers reached the Super Bowl and also won a franchise record 15 games in the regular season. But, it was without Benjamin, who tore his ACL in August before the season.
  • Coming off the injury, Benjamin had a respectable 2016 campaign. Benjamin’s numbers were just under his rookie totals: 63 receptions, 941 yards, 7 touchdowns.
  • 2017 was a season where Benjamin began the year in Carolina, but at the trade deadline, he was moved to Buffalo. The Panthers felt they had faster receivers and felt Benjamin’s production was redundant.
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With the Bills from 2017-18, Benjamin simply didn’t produce. Now some of that could be the fact that the Bills have been in transition with the quarterback situation during that time. But given the size and length that Benjamin presents. Plus, the shape that those in Buffalo were saying Benjamin was in, it was a disappointing stint with the Bills. Benjamin only had 39 receptions in 18 games and just a couple of touchdowns with the Bills. So that’s why many were shocked when the Chiefs signed him late Tuesday.

Pros and Cons of Chiefs Signing Benjamin

There is both some upside and downside of the Benjamin signing. Let’s break them down.

Pros

  • It’s a low-risk move. The Chiefs are not giving Benjamin a ton of money and he’s only signed through the rest of the season.
  • He joins Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. If there’s anybody that can and motivate Benjamin at this point in his career, it’s Andy Reid. This exciting, exuberant team that is playing really well may help as well. The plays and concepts that Reid designs and dials up may give the separation that Benjamin has been unable to create recently.
  • Benjamin could fill a void in a couple of instances. With the release of Kareem Hunt and Sammy Watkins being banged up the last couple of weeks, Benjamin could add just enough of a spark to Patrick Mahomes’ arsenal. Also with his size, Benjamin may be an asset for Mahomes in the red zone.

Cons

  • What’s his work ethic going to be like? We have always heard a lot about Benjamin possibly being in shape, but the production isn’t there. There was reportedly a time earlier in the season where Benjamin refused to get more work in with rookie quarterback Josh Allen before the Bills game against the Texans.
  • How reliable can he be? We don’t know exactly how much chances Benjamin will get to produce, but will he be able to do enough when counted on? We can not just assume that Benjamin will be able to make all the right plays and come through in big moments because his track record hasn’t shown that lately.

Thank you for reading. For more NFL news, be sure to check out Full Press Coverage daily.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Seven-Round 2019 Mock Draft

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With four games left in the regular season, the Jaguars sit at a 4-8 record after snapping their 7-game losing streak. While they weren’t impressive and didn’t live up to the hype, they made moves that potentially will set them up for success.

One of these moves was benching Blake Bortles, who has struggled tremendously. While it isn’t definite, this is a sign Jaguars are targeting a quarterback in this year’s draft.

Speaking of which, Jaguars gave Ohio State several visits this year, which leads us off with the first-round pick.

Round 1, Pick 6: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

Whether you’re a fan of Haskins or not, he’s arguably the most talented quarterback in this draft class and that’s exactly what the Jaguars are in search for. After a rough few years with Blake Bortles handling the snaps, the time has come where they move on from him, meaning the Jaguars need a guy who’s ready to step right in and make a difference.

There’s a trending concern whether Haskins is NFL ready after having one good season and there’s a question of whether he’d be able to handle the pressure it takes to stay in the league. If Haskins were to declare, and Jaguars had enough confidence to draft the potential Heisman winner, they’ll need to groom him with more talent around a struggling offense.


Round 2, Pick 6: WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

Alright, Samuel may not be the big-bodied receiver Jaguars are looking for, that doesn’t mean they can’t draft potentially one of the best wide receivers in this draft class. Racking up 908 scrimmage yards along with 11 touchdowns in the 12 games Samuel has played in his 2018 season, he flashes the ability to become a star athlete.

Samuel seems most comparable to Stefon Diggs. His explosive nature and pinpoint route-running are some of the reasons he strives in separation from defensive backs, potentially leading the Haskins-Samuel connection to cause serious problems for defenses across the NFL.


Round 3, Pick 5: OT Wyatt Miller, UCF


Here’s to one of the most slept on players in this class. Wyatt Miller was a big piece to the underappreciated UCF Knights and their offense who is sixth in the FBS for points scored this season.

Not only is he a stupendous blocker, but Miller is also athletic and loves to move upfield and block linebackers. Given the Jaguars love for a power run scheme lead by Fournette, Miller would fit right in and make a difference.


Round 3, Pick 29 (Via LA Rams): EDGE Chase Winovich, Michigan

Michigan will be losing an explosive offtheedge player that causes disruptions on almost every play. Over the last two years, Winovich has recorded 125 total tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Between money, age, and just simply wanting to move on, the Jaguars will have to make adjustments on defense. While these two players aren’t comparable, Calais Campbell eventually won’t be on the team anymore, and Winivoch can become a solid replacement given his production and hard work ethic.

Round 4, Pick 6: C Garrett Bradbury, NC State

Becoming the second NC State offensive linemen the Jaguars have drafted in the fourth-round in two years, Bradbury is a tricky player that the Jaguars should definitely keep their eye on.

Mobile linemen are a great asset to acquire, however, the Jaguars are a power run offense and that could lead to some issues for Bradbury.

NC State is a zone run offense and that’s where Bradbury shined. With that in mind, a toss-up in the scheme may affect his play. This could ultimately make him nothing more than a backup linemen. There are a few approaches that can be made here, but Bradbury is a tough player to pass up on.

Round 6, Pick 6: TE Matt Sokol, Michigan State

Evan Engram with blocking ability. That’s what Sokol is. While he doesn’t look productive from a stat standpoint, he is nothing shy of a good tight end.

He runs clean routes and is a tremendous run blocker, something the Jaguars are in desperate need of. It’s the choice of taking a tight end early or banking on a later guy like Sokol.


Round 7, Pick 23: CB Davante Davis, Texas

Davis is an overlooked player with teammate Kris Boyd alongside him on the field.

There’s a lot he has to offer, such as high IQ, sound awareness with good open-field tackling ability, and robust play recognition most notable on screen passes, deep routes, and hitch routes.


Over his four-year career at Texas, Davis recorded 114 total tackles, 19 pass deflections, seven tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. Depth at the cornerback position is always important, and that’s where the Jaguars are lacking. Davis would be a great value pick in the seventh-round.

Matchup Breakdown: Los Angeles Rams vs Detroit Lions

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Jun 5, 2018; Allen Park, MI, USA; Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick (right) and running back LeGarrette Blount (29) walk off the field after practice at the Lions Headquarters and Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams are currently 10-1 while the Lions sit at 4-7 after last week’s Thanksgiving Day loss to the Chicago Bears.

Detroit Lions

Offensively, the Lions will need a big game from running back LeGarrette Blount. Blount was able to rush for 88 yards against the Bears while recording two touchdowns on the ground. Rookie phenom Kerryon Johnson still out of the lineup with a knee injury the Lions are going to need another big game from Blount.

Defensively, veteran cornerback Darius Slay is looking to have yet another impressive game against the Rams on Sunday. Slay is an excellent tackler and has a good sesne of locating the ball. He’s also productive in either man or zone schemes and a lot of his success happens downfield against some of the league’s top recievers.

The Lions’ dark horse will kicker Matt Prater. Prater has been nearly automatic all season and has excellent range when it comes to long field goal attempts. Prater should have another big performance in regards to field goals made and extra points against a talented Rams team.

L.A. Rams

Offensivley, the Rams have a highly talented quarterback in Jared Goff. The Rams have an explosive group of receivers to complement Goff and a top-tier running back in MVP favorite Todd Gurley. The Rams’ running game has been making it easier on Goff. It’s allowed him to make tight throws look easy and has really progressed as a third-year quarterback.

Defensively, the Lions are going to have to worry about Rams defensive takcle Aaron Donald. Donald has a knack for finding the ball and is currently leading the league with 14.5 sacks this season. Donald is often double-teamed but is so quick that he can find his way to the quarterback to either record a sack or manage force a fumble

The Rams’ dark horse will be wide reciever Brandin Cooks. Cooks is an extremely talented reciever with a lot of speed. Cooks has the ability to make tough catches look extremely easy downfield. However, Cooks is also a viable target in the redzone this season. His speed and ability to catch the ball in heavy traffic is a highly impressive component for the Rams offense.

Prediction: Rams 35 – Lions 21

Chiefs-Raiders Preview: Get Back On Track

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Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) fumble the ball after being sacked by Kansas City Chiefs' Dee Ford (55) in the fourth quarter of their NFL game at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016. Kansas City defeated Oakland 26-10. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Finally, after a long bye week, the Chiefs are back in action. Kansas City will face the division rival Raiders for the first time this season. Both teams have been on opposite spectrums throughout the 2018 season, as the Chiefs are 9-2 and Oakland sits at 2-9. Let’s go ahead and look at some headlines going into this Chiefs-Raiders matchup.

Ware Them Out

For those that missed the news from Friday about Kareem Hunt, you can check that out here.

As a result, Hunt was released by the Chiefs.

Spencer Ware, Damien Williams and Darrel Williams will likely all get opportunities, but Ware is likely to assume the largest role. Luckily for the Chiefs, Ware had a pretty good year and a half as the starter from 2015-16. Ware compiled over 1,300 scrimmage yards in 2016 with five touchdowns. It could take a while for Ware to get back to that kind of production, but he’s been someone who has shown up when he’s been counted on in the past.

Lost At Sea

To put it lightly, the Raiders ship has floated astray this season. Head coach Jon Gruden left the television booth and his return to coaching for the first time in a decade has been heavily criticized from the minute he was hired. Besides trading away two high profile players on each side of the ball, Gruden has had a rocky relationship with quarterback Derek Carr.

It was just two years ago that Carr was playing as good as any quarterback in the league. His strong play in 2016 led the Raiders to their first playoff appearance since 2002. But, Carr suffered a broken leg before that postseason and he hasn’t been the same since. Carr hasn’t had a whole lot of help through this season.

The Raiders have allowed 36 sacks this season, the fifth most in the league. Besides trading away Amari Cooper, the Raiders have hardly seen any production from veterans Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant. Their receiving core is so depleted, that tight end Jared Cook has been the best option for Carr to throw to.

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Back To the Fundamentals

Despite the offense putting up 44 points in the loss to the Rams, Patrick Mahomes used the bye week to get back to the basics. Mahomes made some nice plays in the loss. But it was one of the few of times this season where the quarterback turned the ball over multiple times. Kansas City has not turned the ball over much, and most of Mahomes turnovers has not come back to bite the Chiefs. Last game was a different story. If Mahomes can have a clean game on the road Sunday, the Chiefs offense will have no problem in gearing up for the home stretch of the regular season.

Back In the Saddle

Just at the right time of the season, the Chiefs are getting healthier. Mitch Morse, who’s been out since Week 6 with a concussion, returned to practice this week. Morse is slated to play on Sunday.

The entire Chiefs fan base has been longing for the return of Eric Berry as well. Berry last played in the regular season opener last year. He suffered a torn achilles in that game. Then this preseason, a heel injury described as a Haglund’s deformity, kept him from practicing for over 100 days. Nothing is for sure that he plays on Sunday. But for what it’s worth, Andy Reid did say that Berry got some reps with the ones at practice this week. When Daniel Sorensen came off of injured reserve earlier in the season, the Chiefs eased him in more so than they did with Berry this week.

Statistical Notes

Entering Sunday’s contest, Travis Kelce is 86 receiving yards away from becoming the second tight end in NFL history with three straight 1,000 yard seasons.

Another Chiefs pass catcher, Tyreek Hill loves to play against the Raiders. In four career games against them, Tyreek has averaged 71.5 receiving yards per game and 3 total touchdowns.

Thank you for reading this Chiefs-Raiders preview. With all of the news coming out of Kansas City, stay connected to Full Press Coverage for more details.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs-Rams Recap: Monday Night Madness

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Monday’s game may have been the craziest NFL game I have ever seen. The game lived up to the billing and then some, but no one could have expected the twists and turns in this game. The Rams were the victors, winning 54-51. We have a lot of things to look back on from this Chiefs-Rams contest, so let’s get started.

Fast Start vs Slow Start

The Rams were ready to play through the first ten minutes of the game. Meanwhile, the Chiefs were less disciplined and looked shook off their game early.

Los Angeles took just three minutes to score on the opening drive of the game. Kansas City was only able to pick up two yards on their first drive and were forced to punt. The Rams made the second drive look just as nonchalant as the first drive. The Chiefs defense got exposed in zone coverage on this drive, leaving receivers open all over the field. After another touchdown, Los Angeles was leading 13-0.

Kansas City seemingly woke up after this Rams score. Their first touchdown drive took just four plays, as Patrick Mahomes had no problem hitting Tyreek Hill after he beat Sam Shields off the line with ease. The defense made enough plays on a long drive to hold the Rams to a field goal on the ensuing drive. Then after a field goal of their own, the Chiefs defense stripped Jared Goff and recovered a fumble around the L.A. twenty yard line. It took just one play after getting the ball back, and the Chiefs found the end zone on a screen pass to Kareem Hunt. From that moment where Goff fumbled, it felt like this game had finally reached the point where both teams were going to be swinging for the fences in a tight game.

Blow For Blow

Coming out of halftime, there were many similarities including the 23 points that they each scored. They also each had missed one extra point and rushed the ball ten times. Also, both quarterbacks had fumbled once, which lead to touchdowns for both teams.

Like many times this season, the Chiefs offense received the ball to open the second half. A few big plays moved the Chiefs down to the L.A. twenty-five yard line. But for the second time in the contest, Aaron Donald happened. The best defensive player in the game shredded his way through a block and forced a Mahomes fumble. The Rams recovered and were starting their drive in Kansas City territory.

Both teams would trade touchdowns after that turnover. Then the Rams would hit a three-point field goal after that, to go up 33-30. The worst of Mahomes five turnovers would lead to a defensive touchdown after the field goal. On an RPO play, Mahomes seemed undecided on whether he wanted to throw to Tyreek or Demetrius Harris. With being undecided and staying flat-footed, the pass was low and wobbly. Samson Ebukam would return it to the house.

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Once again, the Chiefs had to give every ounce to crawl back into it. Down by ten, the Kansas City defense forced a punt. Next, the Chiefs offense would find their way back into the end zone to get within three, as Mahomes found Tyreek on a 73-yard bomb. It seemed like the Rams were ready to take a home run shot of their own after that. But with another strip sack by the Chiefs defense, the ball landed in the hands of Allen Bailey and he walked into the end zone to give the Chiefs their first lead of the second half.

More back and forth scores followed, but in the end, the Rams defense forced turnovers when they needed to. The Chiefs had a chance to seal it, but a dropped interception by Orlando Scandrick was one of many plays that altered the outcome of the game. It was a game where both teams went through a lot, and now a much-needed bye week awaits both teams.

Chief State of Mind

Obviously, a loss like this is heartbreaking, but there is still plenty to be happy about for what we have seen from the Chiefs so far. To start, if you would have asked most people going into the season that the Chiefs would only have two road losses and two total losses heading into the bye with a quarterback starting in his first full season, most would probably not believe you. Especially when you consider the teams they have faced on the road are a combined 38-21-2 so far this season, and the difficult opposing environments they had to play in, that is something most likely didn’t see happening.

Now let’s look at their two losses. Yes, the Chiefs made some awfully bad mistakes in both losses, but the fight that they showed in both games is something most teams do not possess. In New England, the offense had their worst half of the season to open the game. In the second half, the offense fought back to trade shots with New England and even took the lead at one point.

Against L.A., given the Chiefs suspect defense facing a matchup like the Rams offense, most teams would have gotten blown out by halftime gave the slow start and turnovers. But, the Chiefs were still able to take the lead at times and to only lose by three with five turnovers and thirteen penalties are unheard of. So even though Kansas City’s two losses are tough to swallow, both games are big learning points and it’s better to have losses like this in October and November than January or February.

#1 Seed?

Looking at what’s occurred so far heading into the bye, the Chiefs are set up nicely to have a chance to be the AFC’s number one seed. They play a bleak Raiders team twice. They play a Ravens team that will likely give Kansas City a hard fought game, but given the quarterback health of Baltimore, this does not seem like as difficult of a matchup as it was looking back a month ago. The Chargers and Seahawks will both be very testing games, but we know the Chiefs recent success against the Chargers and Seattle’s offense is middle of the pack in scoring at best. It also seems that the team is getting healthier, as well.

The biggest thing standing in the Chiefs way is themselves. Kansas City has been called for the most penalties this season, nineteen more than any other team. They have not always been able to limit the turnovers and put games away.

Statistical Notes

For each game preview, we look at stats to keep an eye on going into a game. We are going to use Monday’s historic game to see how bizarre the NFL game can be.

-First, to put into perspective how crazy this game was, back in Week 10 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had more yards against Washington than the Rams had in this game against the Chiefs. The Bucs scored just 3 points in that game, the Rams put up 54.

-Both teams combined for the third most points in a game in NFL history at 105 points.

-This game was the first time in NFL history where both teams scored 50+ points, meaning the Chiefs were the first ever NFL team to score at least 50 and lose. Going back to college, Mahomes has actually lost four times when his team’s scored at least 50 points.

-Both the Rams and Chiefs combined for 14 touchdowns in this contest. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills have only scored 13 touchdowns this entire season.

-The Rams Samson Ebukam is the first player with a sack, interception and multiple touchdowns in a single game since sacks became official in 1982. His teammate Aaron Donald leads the NFL this season in sacks with 14.5, quarterback hits with 28, and tackles for loss with 16 after this game.

-For Kansas City, they now have 9 games this season with 30+ points, the most in team history.

Thank you for reading the Chiefs-Rams recap. Happy Thanksgiving from the entire Full Press Coverage family.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs-Rams Preview: Game of the Year?

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Chiefs-Rams

This week’s contest between the Chiefs and the Rams is what some are calling the game of the year for the regular season. Some even believe this could be a possible Super Bowl preview for this upcoming February. Both teams have so many similarities. First, they both own 9-1 records. Next, they represent the highest powered offenses in the league, outside of the Saints. Also, both teams have possible frontrunners for league MVP this year. There are plenty of storylines to look towards, so let’s get started.

The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

This game was originally going to occur at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City as part of the NFL’s International Series. Due to soccer matches and concerts from earlier in the year, the field was torn up to the extent where several players for both teams were considering not playing, due to the possibility of injury. The NFL had to make a decision whether to keep this matchup in Mexico City, move it to Los Angeles, or postpone it. With MVP candidates on each team and the high magnitude of this game for the national audience, the NFL decided it was best to move the game to Los Angeles. Overall, the league acted appropriately regarding the situation.

How does this affect each team? The Chiefs were going to have to travel from Kansas City, no matter where the game was being played. As for the Rams, they prepared this week away from their L.A. home, even after the game was moved. With the altitude difference in Mexico City, the Rams had made the plans to prepare in Colorado for the game. So, they will be traveling back to their own stadium after an unusual week of preparation.

Offensive Explosion

The NFL audience has become accustomed to watching some of the most high powered offenses operate over the last couple of years. These two teams have become incredibly fun offenses to watch. In both team and player categories, this matchup is filled with statistical league-leaders.

Between the quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff are first and second in the league respectively in passing yards. Both signal callers are also ranked in the top four for passing touchdowns.

Between both running backs, Todd Gurley leads the league in rushing. Meanwhile, Kareem Hunt is fourth in the NFL in that category.

Also, after the league-leading Saints, the Chiefs and the Rams rank second and third respectively in points per game.

With that in mind, for all the gamblers out there, this is the highest ever over/under total in NFL history at 64 points. The way this game could go, whichever of the better offenses has the ball at the end of the game could be the winner.

Latest Chiefs News

The Cornerback Dilemma

Back in February, the Chiefs shocked many people when they traded Marcus Peters to the Rams in return for a couple of draft picks. Why was this so surprising? Peters came on strong to the NFL scene back in his 2015 rookie season. His first defensive play for the Chiefs was an interception. As a rookie, Peters finished tied for the league in interceptions and won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. He entered this season with the most interceptions and passes defended in the league since 2015. However, it looks like the Chiefs knew what they were doing by trading him away.

According to the ratings of both team’s cornerbacks, Peters is the worst ranked of them all. Peters has been beaten deep a lot this season, so it will be interesting to see how many times Mahomes will go for the home run ball against him. Both the Chiefs and Peters have said all the right things this week leading up to the game, now it’s time to battle it out on the playing surface.

Regarding the cornerbacks, one particular presence will not be felt in this game as he sits on the injured reserve. Rams Veteran Aqib Talib has only played in three games this season and will miss this contest. Meanwhile, the Chiefs top three cornerbacks, Steven Nelson, Kendall Fuller and Orlando Scandrick have played in all ten games this season.

Hold on Tightly

The defenses are not among the best units in the league, but there are very few great shutdown defenses around the league this season. For the Chiefs, one place where they may do better than the Rams defensively is what matters the most, allowing points on the scoreboard. Besides giving up 43 points to New England, Kansas City has not allowed more than 23 points in a game since Week 4. In that time span, the Chiefs have allowed just 21.1 points per game. That’s including that loss to the Patriots, in a game where Kansas City was down most starters, and still held tough in some situations against Tom Brady.

On the other hand, the Rams have allowed at least 23 points in six of the last eight weeks. During that time, L.A.’s defense has allowed 27.3 points per game. That is not great, especially considering they have not faced the best opposing offenses in the league. If either defense can hold their opponent out of the end zone, they will have accomplished a lot in this matchup.

Statistical Notes

Only 8 players in NFL history have had 3,000+ passing yards and a 110+ passer rating in the first 10 games of a season. The first 6 won the NFL MVP award. The other two? They are Mahomes and Goff, who will try to outduel each other in this game.

This will be the first time since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger that the NFL’s leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns (Mahomes) faces the leader in scrimmage yards and scrimmage touchdowns (Gurley).

Thank you for reading this Chiefs-Rams preview. In anticipating for this exciting game, be sure to check out Full Press Coverage for more great content.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs-Cardinals Preview: Take Care of the Birds

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Like last week, the Chiefs enter a matchup hot against a struggling team. Kansas City currently sits at 8-1 and is looking to improve to 5-0 at home. Arizona enters 2-6 with their only two victories coming against the 49ers. This is another game where the Chiefs just need to take care of business with another win and move on to the big game against the Rams. Let’s look at some headlines going into this Chiefs-Cardinals game.

Rookie Woes

This year’s tenth overall pick, quarterback Josh Rosen, has gone through peaks and valleys since taking over for Sam Bradford late in Week 3. Rosen has not thrown for very many yards in any game, so the Chiefs need to be ready for quick outs and slants from the UCLA product. He also has turned the ball over plenty of times. Rosen has six interceptions, to just five touchdown passes. He has also has struggled with ball security. If the Chiefs pass rush can get to him, they may be able to cause a key fumble. Even though Rosen has mostly struggled, he will have Byron Leftwich as his offensive for the second time following the firing of former OC Mike McCoy. Last time out, Rosen led a game-winning drive under the tutelage of Leftwich.

Don’t Let Up

The Cardinals statistically look like a good defense, but the Chiefs offense is leaps and bounds ahead of most of the opposing offenses that they have faced. Only three times has Arizona allowed more than 27 points. Meanwhile, Kansas City has scored at least 27 points every game. The Chiefs have had some turnovers, which the Cardinals are sneaky at forcing, but rarely have those turnovers hurt them. Patrick Mahomes and Co. will likely get plenty of opportunities given the way this game could go. Look for the Chiefs to push the Cardinals defense by going vertical. Kansas City shouldn’t have many issues, but they need to keep the foot on the gas against this Arizona defense.

Latest Chiefs News

Matchup to Watch: David Johnson vs Chiefs Run Defense

It’s been a trying season for David Johnson. So far, he has only rushed for more than sixty yards in a game once this season. He’s also a decent receiving back, yet has not reached fifty yards as a receiver in a single matchup in 2018. Some of that is the offensive line play of Arizona, but this guy was one of the top running backs just a couple of years ago. Now, the Chiefs have a good matchup for their struggling run defense. Kansas City has to be able to keep Johnson bottled up, and not allow him to cut back against the linebackers. What could help the Chiefs’ run defense also, is if the offense puts the game away and forces the Cardinals to throw it.

Statistical Notes

With a 50 yard touchdown last week, Kareem Hunt now has five 50+ yard touchdowns since the start of last season. The only player in the NFL with more in that time span, is his teammate, Tyreek Hill.

We have continued to watch Mahomes touchdown numbers climb. This week, he needs just two touchdown passes to set a single-season franchise record. Len Dawson‘s old record could be broken in this contest, as early as the end of the first quarter.

Thank you for reading. Enjoy this Chiefs-Cardinals game in Week 10. You can always follow along at Full Press Coverage.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs-Browns Recap: Cleveland Boys Takedown Browns

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Kansas City improved to 8-1 on Sunday by defeating Cleveland 37-21. Among the highlights of this Chiefs-Browns game is Patrick Mahomes setting a new career high in single-game passing yards and adding three more passing touchdowns. He’s now two touchdown passes away from setting a single-season record for the franchise. The defense made stops when they needed to and Damien Williams even blocked a punt. Most of all, the two playmakers from Cleveland came into their hometown and had another game-breaking performance.

Special K’s

Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce scored on all five of the Chiefs touchdowns. Kelce finished with two touchdowns, his second multi-touchdown game of the season. He also finished just a tick under a 100 receiving yards for the game. For Hunt, he is possibly playing better than any other running back in the league right now. He recorded a hat trick of touchdowns and finished with 141 total yards. When these two are playing at this level, it’s amazing to see. Even more so is the fact that they can still improve from week to week.

Latest Chiefs News

Pivotal Moments

It was not a great performance by the defense, but they did well enough. Steven Nelson ended up with the only takeaway, by intercepting a Baker Mayfield pass late. But, the Chiefs should have had a takeaway right before halftime. On a 3rd and 7 near midfield, Dee Ford had a strip-sack, forced fumble and a fumble recovery all in one play. This would have given the Chiefs the ball inside the Cleveland 40 yard line with just over a minute to play within the first half. Instead, Ford was called for offsides. It did not look to be that obvious. Maybe Ford’s helmet was just slightly in the neutral zone, or his get off was just so well timed that the referee thought it was too quick. The drive continued and the Browns would end up reaching the end zone. This trimmed the Chiefs lead down to six going into halftime.

Another pivotal moment was during the middle of the Chiefs drive coming out of halftime. On a 3rd and 4 attempt, Mahomes would find Spencer Ware on a swing pass to the left. This counteracted the Browns aggressiveness to pressure Mahomes, and as a result, Ware rumbled down inside the Cleveland 30. A few plays later Mahomes found Kelce in the end zone on a perfect throw.

Both pivotal moments seemed to slow down what success the defenses were finding.

Too Much of the Wrong Thing

This victory was buttoned up, for the most part, for Kansas City. However, if there is one negative aspect, it was the penalties. The Chiefs were called for 11 penalties, which accounted for 86 penalty yards. Meanwhile, the Browns were only called for 4 penalties, which accounted for 20 penalty yards. The Chiefs have now been called for the most penalties in the league through the first nine weeks of the season, with 76. If the Chiefs can not clean this up enough, it could possibly cost them a game later in the season.

Thank you for reading this Chiefs-Browns recap. Before week 10 of the NFL season begins, makes sure to check out the abundance of great content available on Full Press Coverage.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs-Browns Preview: Take Care of Business

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Will this become a possible trap game for the Chiefs? Kansas City has begun their season at 7-1, as we have hit the midway point of the season. The Browns meanwhile, have improved in some areas, but are once again searching for a new head coach. As a result, the Chiefs cannot write-off this Cleveland team on Sunday. Let’s take a look at some of the top headlines going into this Chiefs-Browns game.

Hit the Road Hue Jack

A day after losing to the Steelers last week, the Browns, once again, decided to clean house. Head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were both fired. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was named interim head coach. Hue’s run in Cleveland could not have been more hopeless. Jackson’s record in Cleveland over two and a half seasons finished 3-36-1, including a winless season last year. Jackson is also now 11-44-1 as a head coach. How bad is that? Out of 219 coaches that have coached a minimum of 40 games in their career, he ranks 218th in winning percentage. There are many different reports about who wanted to keep who between the front office and ownership. Also, the Browns players apparently found out about the firings from televisions around the facility. No team meeting was held before or after the announcement.

Don’t Write Them Off

The Chiefs can not come into this one off of their A-game. The Browns may not win a lot, but they are seemingly in most of the games, which has led to crazy endings. Anything can happen on any given game in the NFL, and the Browns have had a full week to prepare with the new staff changes. Kansas City seems to be a team that mentally, would not let a let down to the Browns happen. But, the Browns have a tough defense that flies around. Offensively, Cleveland has playmakers who can create big plays at any given moment.

Let’s take a look at a game where a team recently fired their head coach, then shocked an opponent the following week.

Why not use an example courtesy of the Chiefs. Back in 2011, Kansas City fired Todd Haley in the middle of December. The Chiefs at 5-8, welcomed in the Packers, who were 13-0. The Chiefs played a hard-nosed game, and slapped Green Bay with their first loss of the season, winning 19-14. Interim head coach Romeo Crennel chose Kyle Orton as his quarterback, and Orton made enough plays to lead the Chiefs to victory. That was the only loss the Packers suffered in the regular season in 2011, before they ultimately fell in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Green Bay also finished that season with the number one ranked offense.

Latest Chiefs News

Mahomes vs Mayfield

Former Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, now in the same position with the Browns, selected both of these quarterbacks in the first round over the last two drafts with these two teams. They will now go head to head for the first time in the NFL. What everyone is talking about though, is the classic these two displayed against each other in college.

Back in 2016, Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield combined for an FBS record 1,708 yards of offense. Mahomes set an FBS record in passing yards (734) and yard of total offense (819). Mayfield set a school record at Oklahoma with seven touchdown passes in the contest. Astonishingly, Mahomes attempted 88 total passes. Even though Mayfield threw for seven touchdown passes, he attempted 52 fewer passes than Mahomes. Oklahoma would wind up winning 66-59.

Odds are, we don’t see that on Sunday, we think.

Matchup to Watch: Chiefs Pass Rush vs Browns Offensive Line

The Chiefs may have started out slow on defense, but they have improved lately. This includes the pass rush, which is being led by Dee Ford. Kansas City is tied for the second most sacks in the league with 24. Considering they are only three sacks behind a defense like the Ravens, shows how well they are getting to the quarterback right now. Meanwhile, the Browns have allowed the most sacks in the league. The Chiefs have to force Mayfield to stay in the pocket and bottle him up. Mayfield throws tremendously on the run and can even elude tacklers pretty well.

Statistical Notes

It’s time to look at the marks that Mahomes is continuing to break.

-With his third passing touchdown last week, Mahomes became the fastest ever to throw 25 touchdown passes (9 games).

-Mahomes now has 26 touchdown passes this season. That’s what Alex Smith had all of last year for the Chiefs. But, we harp on Smith enough. Let’s compare the two quarterbacks drafted by Kansas City in the first round. Mahomes only took 9 games to reach 26 passing touchdowns. Todd Blackledge played in 40 games for Kansas City and finished with 26 passing touchdowns in his career as a Chief.

-Mahomes now has 5 games with 4 or more passing touchdowns, the most through the first 8 games of a season in the Super Bowl era. The Browns have had a quarterback throw for 4 or more touchdowns in 4 games since the Browns became a franchise again in 1999.

There you have it. Thank you for reading. Enjoy your Football Sunday, including the Chiefs-Browns game. For more sports content, check out Full Press Coverage daily.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs-Broncos Preview: Another Division Rivalry Sweep?

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The Chiefs will play in the comfy confines of Arrowhead Stadium for the second week in a row. That is the first time this season for Kansas City who comes into week 8 at 6-1. The Chiefs are looking to complete the season sweep over the rival Broncos for the third straight year. A Chiefs win would move Kansas City’s winning streak to seven over the Broncos. Their division record would also improve to 19-2 since the start of 2015 with a win. Now, let’s get to the Chiefs-Broncos preview.

Which Broncos Team Will We See?

The Broncos have had an up and down season. Denver is coming off their biggest win of the season, but that came against a bad Arizona Cardinals team. The Broncos look to have possibly climbed back into contention, at 3-4. However, the teams they have won against are a combined 5-14 this season. Meanwhile, the teams they have fallen to this season are a combined 20-8. We know the Chiefs will not feel the effects of the Denver crowd in primetime like they did earlier in the season. So, how dangerous are the Broncos defense in this game? They have struggled to get off the field, and the number of explosive plays allowed by Denver’s defense is among the most in the league. Their defense played well early on in the first matchup this season, but look for the Chiefs to possess the ball a lot longer and move the ball with more ease early on.

Offensive Outpour

The Chiefs offense did exactly what they needed to against the Bengals last week. That was to keep the momentum rolling from the strong second half against the Patriots. They did that and then some. The Chiefs continue to hit on explosive plays and confuse defenses with the creativity of head coach Andy Reid. Last week the offense gained the most yards they had all season with 551 total yards.

The only time the offense was contained though, was against these Broncos earlier in the season. If Kansas City looks to keep the momentum rolling, they will look to outdo themselves from the matchup earlier this season. Kareem Hunt was a big contributor in getting the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in position for the second half comeback. Hunt has been running angry lately, and Mahomes made things work on some of the most difficult of circumstances in that comeback. If the goal is to outperform their prior matchup against Denver, then to see Mahomes take some shots deep early and launch some Patomic bombs.

Latest Chiefs News

Matchup to Watch: Chiefs Front Seven vs Phillip Lindsay

The Broncos will be without one running back, Royce Freeman. This means Phillip Lindsay will get fed often if the Broncos are to hang around in this game. The Chiefs defense allowed Lindsay to scamper for 69 yards in the matchup earlier this season. Lindsay also accumulated 5.8 yards per carry in that game. The Chiefs defense has been better lately at flying around to the ball. But, they can’t let up against Lindsay. He’s a back that is hard to bring down, and his runs outside are just as dangerous as between the tackles.

Statistical Notes

Travis Kelce loves to face the Broncos. In his career, he has 49 receptions for 683 yards and 3 touchdowns against them.

The Chiefs are the 4th team in the last 15 seasons to average 37+ points per game through Week 7. All three previous teams reached the Super Bowl: 2007 Patriots, 2009 Saints and 2013 Broncos.

Hopefully, all of that creates a good sign for the Chiefs, not only this week but for the rest of the season. Thank you for reading. Be sure to check out all of the great sports content on Full Press Coverage.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs Week 7: Three Up, Two Down

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Chiefs Week 7

What a win it was for the Chiefs over the Bengals this past Sunday night. It’s that time of the week to look at whose stock is rising or possibly dropping for the Chiefs. No, the math isn’t wrong, there are in fact only two players listed in the down section. That’s what happens after a blowout victory. Let’s get go ahead and get started by looking at player performances from the victory.

Three Up

Kareem Hunt – RB

In last week’s edition of three up, three down, we mostly looked at players that are more under the radar. This time, we cannot ignore the epic showing that Kareem Hunt displayed on Sunday night. First, there was the hurdle over Jessie Bates early in the game. Then, you have the plethora of missed tackles by the Bengals defense. Once again, Pro Football Focus has determined that Hunt has forced more missed tackles than any other running back in the league. Finally, you have Kareem proving what Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has reiterated throughout press conferences since training camp. That is that Kareem has been running harder than any other back in the league, to put it nicely. The defending rushing champion is now third in the league in rushing yards. Nearly seventy percent of Hunt’s rushing yards have come in the last four games. It’s safe to say that Kareem will keep running hard and it’s going to take a village to bring him down.

Dorian O’Daniel – LB

It was quite a bit longer than some thought it would take for the rookie from Clemson to see significant snaps on defense. However, Dorian O’Daniel performed adequately and showed how well he can defend against running backs in pass coverage. There was one instance where it appeared as though Joe Mixon did not even want to catch the ball because O’Daniel had him dialed up. The speed and consistent tackling from DOD could possibly result in more snaps for him. Add in the fact that the Chiefs placed Terrance Smith on injured reserve on Tuesday, O’Daniel is going to get more chances regardless. It’s time to see what he’s got in store.

Latest Chiefs News

Interior Offensive Line

We are going to go with more than one player for this final part of three up. The trio of Cam Erving, Jordan Devey and Andrew Wylie faced a tough test against the likes of Geno Atkins, who has been to six Pro Bowls, and also Andrew Billings a big-bodied defensive tackle who moves well. The announcers hardly even mentioned Atkins, other than the opening part of the game. That shows how well these three performed.

Erving has performed well this season in an increased role, but the biggest thing is that he continues to get better every week. Wylie, who has bounced around a few NFL homes, looks to have found a permanent home in Kansas City. He looked good in the preseason but was hard pressed to get a chance to start. Now that Wylie has that opportunity, expect to see no let up from the rugged competitor. Unfortunately, as well as Devey had done on Sunday night, the Chiefs placed him on injured reserve on Tuesday with a pectoral injury. That does not sound like an easy injury to deal with at all for an offensive lineman. Hopefully, Devey will recover quickly and come back stronger down the line for the Kansas City.

Two Down

Terrance Smith – LB

We mentioned that Smith’s season is most likely over, as he was placed on injured reserve. Smith has been inconsistent this season in coverage and tackling, which is not ideal for the likelihood of him returning. The bigger picture for Smith is wondering if he will ever play any significant snaps for the Chiefs. After the season, he will become a restricted free agent. Also, with the amount of defensive talent in next year’s draft and the linebackers the Chiefs already have, that is another reason to believe the Chiefs could move on from Smith.

The Center Position

It was such a well played game by the Chiefs that I can only look toward injuries at what is a low point right now for Kansas City. With Devey going on injured reserve and Mitch Morse‘s status currently up in the air, we do not currently have a clear idea at what the offensive line, and more importantly the center position, will look like this Sunday. We will most likely get an update on Morse sometime this week, but we’ll see.

Thank you for reading. Enjoy the rest of your week before the Chiefs’ next game. In the meanwhile, check out all of the other great content on Full Press Coverage.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Three Up, Three Down- Chiefs-Patriots

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We are a couple of days removed from Kansas City’s last game. Let’s go ahead and look at some players who are noticeably trending upwards and some that are trending downwards. We are looking mostly at the results from the Chiefs-Patriots game. However, we are also factoring in pre-season expectations as well.

Three Up

Breeland Speaks – DE

What fans may remember most from this game is when Breeland Speaks did not finish a sack opportunity against Tom Brady. Brady would run it in for a touchdown on that play. Afterwards, Speaks said he was worried about getting flagged for roughing the passer.

Despite that gaffe, Speaks had his best game in a Chiefs uniform yet. He got an opportunity to start for the first time in his career, with Justin Houston out for the game with an injury. Speaks played relentlessly and was displaying some of his best pass rush moves since coming into the league. The Chiefs want to see greater consistency in that department, but it’s getting better. Speaks was able to finish with six total tackles, one sack and a forced fumble on a play where the Chiefs got the ball back while they were down by eight points.

Jordan Lucas – DB

Jordan Lucas was another guy who was making his first start as a Chief. He showed some flashes late in the Jacksonville game, and that success carried over to the New England contest.

Against the Patriots offensive attack, Lucas displayed arguably the most consistent coverage. He was rarely beat by New England’s skill players. It is one thing to have that type of success against the Jaguars, it is another entirely to maintain that against the Patriots offense. What is even more impressive, is how well Lucas reads run plays from his position. Not all of his tackles were instant, but it was a good thing for the Chiefs that he was able to make plays throughout the majority of the game. His night would have been even better if he came down with an interception. Lucas had a chance on a Brady pass that he played perfectly, but could not snag the INT. Nonetheless, it was a very encouraging outing for the safety who looks to continue to get more snaps for Kansas City.

Jordan Devey – OL

It was difficult for the Chiefs to lose starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to a fractured leg, but Jordan Devey is not that bad of a downgrade among this underrated offensive line. Devey is getting an increased opportunity with Duvernay-Tardif out, but we may also get to see his ability to be a force for the Chiefs in many ways. Now that center Mitch Morse has suffered a concussion, Devey may be able to showcase his talents in different roles. Not that injuries are what the Chiefs needed, but Devey is a strong swingman depth piece for Kansas City.

Latest Chiefs News

Three Down

Anthony Hitchens – LB

Dare I say, Anthony Hitchens has been the biggest disappointment so far this season on the defense. Hitchens was one of the two biggest acquisition the Chiefs made to the defense this offseason. The other is receiving Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade. The Chiefs wanted to get younger, and more importantly faster, at the linebacker position. They locked up Hitchens on a 5 year/$45 million deal back in free agency, and it looks to be like an overpayment so far.

One thing that was encouraging about Hitchens tape from his time in Dallas, was the speed and his ability to plug the hole and shred through blocks. With the Cowboys, he tackled as well as any inside linebacker. So far this season, and especially against the Patriots, that kind of play has been absent. Hitchens seems too hesitant. His balance is off and that effects his ability to bring down runners right away. The run defense was supposed to improve with Hitchens at the forefront, but Sony Michel added his name on a list of runners that have torched the Chiefs up the middle so far this season.

Ron Parker – DB

Unlike the aforementioned Jordan Lucas, Ron Parker has been struggling with his reads in most games this season. This was evident against the Patriots, like in other games this season. For example, on a pass where Brady threw to the right boundary in the direction of Julian Edelman, Parker was lucky that Orlando Scandrick had tight coverage and did not get beat. Parker was flat footed watching the quarterback’s eyes. That was something he did late against Denver on a throw that was incomplete. That could have been the game-winner for the Broncos.

The encouraging thing when the Chiefs brought Parker back following the preseason cuts, was that he knew the playbook and had a good history in pass coverage for the Chiefs.  However, he hasn’t been consistent enough in both coverage and tackling. With Eric Berry out, Parker was expected to hold down the back end of the defense. So far, he has not.

Mitch Morse – OL

Morse is a grinder and he is listed on Three Down mostly because of his history of injuries, not for his performance. He suffered a concussion against the Patriots and this is the third significant one that he has suffered in the last couple of seasons. Morse played 31 games in his first two seasons. However, he already missed 10 games last season and who knows how many he will miss due to this concussion. The Chiefs have depth on the offensive line, but Morse can ill-afford to suffer too many more injuries in the future if the Kansas City wants to rely on him.

Thank you for reading. Hopefully, you enjoyed reading this article. You can follow along at Full Press Coverage during the ups and downs of this season.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs-49ers Preview: The Home Opener Has Arrived

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When the Chiefs schedule came out, few thought the team would enter their home opening contest with a 2-0 record. After the two big road wins, the excitement has continued to rise coming into this Sunday. It will be Patrick Mahomes‘ first career home start as a Chief. The fans will be ready to get Arrowhead Stadium rocking like they do every home game. Let’s go ahead and take a look at some headlines coming into Sunday’s Chiefs-49ers game.

Great Minds Think Alike

Even though the players are the ones who determine the outcome of the game, it will be interesting to see how these two head coaches gameplan their offenses. Andy Reid is known as one of the best quarterback tutors in recent history. On the flip side, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has a fairly successful resume as a play caller.

Shanahan is in just his second season as head coach of the 49ers, but this is his eleventh season of calling plays. Shanahan’s first shot at offensive coordinator came with the Houston Texans in 2008, when he became the youngest coordinator in the NFL (28 years old) at that time. Afterwards, he joined his father Mike in Washington. That is where the younger Shanahan started to get noticed around the league for play designs and his creativity. Other career highlights as OC include leading the Falcons offense in 2016. That year, Atlanta was the highest scoring offense in the league and their quarterback Matt Ryan received MVP honors. That offense also took the Falcons to Super Bowl 51.

Series History

This will be the thirteenth all-time meeting between these two franchises, with the 49ers leading the series 7-5. Besides the head to head matchups, there is some deeper history between San Francisco and Kansas City.

Let’s start with the 1994 Chiefs home opener, a highly anticipated contest between quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young. Former teammates in San Francisco, their relationship had turned into a heated, personal rivalry. Montana took a hard hit in the 1990 playoffs, and he would miss most of the next two seasons. In 1992, Young would win the NFL MVP award. He led the 49ers to a 14-2 record and the NFC Championship Game, where they would lose against the Cowboys.

Come April 1993, Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Montana would join newly signed free agent running back Marcus Allen in Kansas and the Chiefs would reach the 1993 AFC Championship Game, falling to the Buffalo Bills. Then, in the Chiefs 1994 home opener, Montana and Young dueled in a shootout, in which Kansas City would win 24-17. Derrick Thomas had one of the hardest hits in that game when he sacked Young near the end zone.

Eventually, we saw another quarterback trade between the 49ers and Chiefs. In March 2013, Alex Smith would join Kansas City after spending his first eight seasons of his career with the 49ers, the team who drafted him first overall in 2005. This was a big upgrade for the Chiefs, as Smith would lead the team to the playoffs four out of five seasons. Meanwhile, the 49ers would go through some rough seasons after the trade. They parted ways with Jim Harbaugh after the 2014 season, despite being one of the most successful coaches in team history. Smith’s successor, Colin Kaepernick, would quickly fall under expectations and his tenure in San Francisco did not last all that long.

Latest Chiefs News

Matchup to Watch: 49ers Running Backs vs Chiefs Run Defense

The 49ers signed running back Jerick McKinnon to a 4 year, $30 million contract this offseason. He was slated to have a big role in the San Francisco offense until he suffered a torn ACL right before the regular season. The 49ers have found steady performance in his replacements though. Veteran Alfred Morris is a tough-nosed back, who can run between the tackles. Also, Matt Breida is turning in big performances. Last week against Detroit, Breida produced 159 total yards on 14 touches with a touchdown.

The better part of Kansas City’s defense has been the run defense. But, they can’t sleep against these runners who can make defenders look silly in open space. The 49ers may look to swing their backs to the outside which is a better matchup than running inside against the Chiefs front.

Statistical Notes

Patrick Mahomes set an NFL record with last week’s six passing touchdown performance to lift the Chiefs over the Steelers. Mahomes became the first in NFL history to throw ten touchdowns in the first two weeks of a season. This beat out Peyton Manning (2013) and Drew Brees (2009) who had nine touchdowns apiece to open those seasons.

As mentioned, this is Mahomes first home start as a Chief. He is just the second quarterback since 1970 who has won three consecutive road games in his first three career starts. The only other quarterback to do it was Jeff Hostetler from 1988-1990.

While being alone in an elite group like Mahomes is great, you don’t want to be the only one left out of something. Don’t be the one who misses out on all the great sports content provided by Full Press Coverage. Thank you for reading, and enjoy your football.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs-Chargers Preview: Turning Out the Bolts

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Chiefs-Chargers

After a long offseason, we have finally made it to the beginning of the regular season. The Chiefs are beginning a new era, with Patrick Mahomes running the show at quarterback. This year they will begin things against a Chargers team, who has been surrounded by a lot of hype. There is even a fair share of analysts who believe the Chargers could represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year. Let’s go ahead and take a look at some headlines going into this Chiefs-Chargers game.

Does the Streak Live On?

The Chiefs have owned the Chargers pretty handily for a while now. Entering Sunday, Kansas City holds an eight-game winning streak against them. There has been a number of different ways that the Chiefs have been able to keep winning, too. For example, there was the largest comeback in Chiefs history to open the 2016 season. Also, there was the game where the Chargers drove all the way down the field in the rain, only to have the ball be dropped in the end zone by Danny Woodhead in 2015. With all the hype surrounding the Chargers, this game will have a lot on the line for them. Meanwhile, for the Chiefs, they hope that even with all of the changes, they will maintain dominance over the Chargers.

Matchup to Watch: Chiefs Secondary vs Chargers WRs

Going into the season, the Chiefs secondary is the weakest part of their team. Preseason results may have no meaning on regular-season performance, but there is definite concern about how the Chiefs will fair in pass defense. There has been a lot of changes, as Marcus Peters is gone and now the best cornerback on the team will be playing his first official snap for the Chiefs this week. Also for this contest, it looks as if the Chiefs will be without Eric Berry, who is nursing a heel injury. Berry has not participated in practice in over three weeks and is officially listed as doubtful for Sunday.

With that said, it’s hard not to give the advantage to the Chargers receivers in this matchup. Keenan Allen could not have torn it up any better last season. In his first season of playing all 16 games, Allen had a career high in receptions and receiving yards, by a pretty large margin. Kansas City will also have to worry about speedsters Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams, who run swift routes and can catch anything Philip Rivers throws their way. Finally, we have Mike Williams. He needed to have a strong preseason after missing basically his entire rookie year last season. Williams didn’t disappoint, showing his best attributes in multiple opportunities.

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Offensive Breakout

We know that there are high aspirations for the Chiefs offense. But, this is a Chargers team who fields one of the better starting defenses in the league. Though, they will be without star pass rusher Joey Bosa, who has a nagging foot injury.

The Chiefs will attempt to counteract this defense by throwing multiple looks at them. We saw some creative wrinkles in the offense in the preseason, and Mahomes has said that those were just the first or second of twenty possible installs. Just by hearing that, it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Chiefs get in Week One.

Statistical Notes:

-The last time the Chargers beat the Chiefs, Mahomes was a junior in high school. Also, Mahomes was just six days short of his 11th birthday when Philip Rivers made his first career NFL start in 2006.

-While Berry will miss Sunday’s game for Kansas City, this is not something new. Last year Berry missed both games against the Chargers, and the Chiefs fared well. The Chargers only scored 10 and 13 points respectively in both games. That is with the Chargers averaging 22.2 PPG last season. The Chiefs picked off Rivers 6 times, sacked him 4 times, with a 52.6 completion percentage. Melvin Gordon never broke 80 yards.

-As much flack as defensive coordinator Bob Sutton gets, he has done well in this matchup since coming to Kansas City. Rivers has 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, with a 76.3 passer rating vs Sutton. The Chiefs are 8-2 in those games.

Thank you for reading. Enjoy the Chiefs-Chargers, as well as the other NFL games this week. For more previews and post-game analysis, check out Going for 2.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs Defensive Backs: Projected 53 Man Roster

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Chiefs defensive backs

We have finally made it past the end of the preseason. The last part of our Kansas City roster projections includes the cornerbacks and the safeties today. There are several crucial decisions that need to be made regarding the Chiefs defensive backs. Let’s try to predict what happens.

Defensive Backs on the current roster

Cornerbacks: Kendall Fuller, Steven Nelson, David Amerson, Tremon Smith, Orlando Scandrick, Will Redmond, Keith Reaser, Makinton Dorleant, Arrion Springs, D’Montre Wade

Safeties: Eric Berry, Daniel Sorensen, Eric Murray, Leon McQuay, Armani Watts, Jordan Sterns

So far in the preseason, the secondary has looked like the weakest part of the team. Fuller has had some nice showings by demonstrating the many different dimensions he brings to the table as a player. However, the Chiefs traded away Marcus Peters in the offseason and hardly upgraded the position after that. They did not draft a cornerback until the sixth round, and there were plenty of good free agents out there as well. Bashaud Breeland was a cornerback who looked like was on his way to signing back in July, but that never came to completion and he’s still on the market. The preseason can sometimes cause false narratives though, so maybe things will be better in the regular season, we’ll see.

The Starters

The starting cornerback tandem will be Kendall Fuller and Steven Nelson. Let’s take a look at both players individually.

First, we have Fuller, the player Kansas City received in the Alex Smith trade with Washington back in the offseason. Fuller is the kind of cornerback that defensive coordinator Bob Sutton loves. That is a long-armed, physical player who can press coverage and run with receivers. Fuller was rated as one of the best slot cornerbacks a year ago, and now he looks like Kansas City’s top man outside.

Next, we have Nelson who has had a so-so run thus far in Kansas City, but who has a chance to do some big things this season. He has continued to grow in Sutton’s defense and is already entering his fourth year with the team. Nelson does not play press as well as Fuller, but he can still run down the field with the receivers. If he can stay consistent, the Chiefs will be fine opposite of Fuller.

Moving to the safety position, the great Eric Berry has one roster spot locked down. The other spot is a huge question mark right now, as Daniel Sorensen suffered a knee injury in training camp and is likely out for most of the first half of the season. Berry contributes imensily already, and with the youth at the other safety spot, the Chiefs will need someone to step up fast. Eric Murray has some experience, but rookie Armani Watts played a ton of snaps at Texas A&M and has a lot of upside. My guess is the Chiefs will have a rotation at the other safety spot throughout the first half of the season.

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Crucial Cuts

Looking at the rest of the depth chart and the performance throughout camp and the preseason, it is very tough to say what Kansas City’s front office and coaches are thinking about the rest of these guys.

My official projections are that the Chiefs will keep three other cornerbacks. That is a total of five cornerbacks and four safeties, including Sorensen, since he is unlikely to land on IR at this point. The other remaining players that I think make the team are Orlando Scandrick, ArrionSprings, as well as rookie Tremon Smitm.

Smith is still learning to play cornerback in Sutton’s defense, but will likely see a good share of reps. Scandrick is a veteran who helps the Chiefs who can he perform consistently. As the season goes on, I think the third cornerback spot will become his. I also believe Springs has performed well enough in the preseason to make the team, even if he hasn’t had a ton of reps.

I do not think a veteran, David Amerson, makes the team. Amerson has not fared well in camp or the preseason, and even though the Chiefs need experience in the secondary, Amerson just doesn’t look he has what Kansas City is hoping for. They signed him for cheap at $500,000 guaranteed, so it won’t be like this signing was a complete blow to their salary cap. Amerson has been around for a while, but it seems like he has struggled for a couple of seasons now. With the Raiders, he was getting run by just as bad as he was this preseason. Therefore, that is one of the biggest notable cuts I see the Chiefs making.

Final depth chart:

LCB: 1) Steven Nelson 2) Orlando Scandrick 3) Arrion Springs

RCB: 1) Kendall Fuller 2) Tremon Smith

SS: 1) Eric Berry 2) Eric Murray

FS: 1) Daniel Sorensen (injured) 2) Armani Watts

Keep in mind, with final roster cuts, the Chiefs can always sign a free agent or trade for somebody.

Here are some bonus roster spots: These four positions are easy decisions to make for the final 53, as there is no competition at these spots. They are fullback Anthony Sherman, long snapper James Winchester, punter Dustin Colquitt and kicker Harrison Butker.

That will do it for our roster projections, and it will be fun to see how correct we were throughout this. As always, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage for great sports content! We have finally made it to the regular season!

 

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Three Things to Watch For: Chiefs vs Packers

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Chiefs vs Packers

We have made it to the final tune-up to the regular season. This week the Kansas City meets Green Bay in a matchup where both teams will hardly play any starters. There are still important roster bubble spots up for grabs though, so let’s take a look at what fans could watch for in the Chiefs vs Packers game.

Who Steps Up?

The Chiefs need someone to step up for defensive depth, most noticeably in the secondary. In last week’s performance against the Chicago Bears, backups didn’t help. The depth just doesn’t seem to be there like years past and Eric Berry has not stepped on the practice field for nearly three weeks. Guys like Tremon Smith and Arrion Springs are just a couple of guys that could end up having a good game if they receive significant playing time.

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Will Litton Go Off?

At this point, it looks like Chase Litton has a pretty good shot to make the team over Matt McGloin. Litton may get a chance to play at least a half, and if he continues to play well, the play of those other roster bubble guys could be elevated when it needs to be. For example, Marcus Kemp had a big touchdown last week, a guy who is definitely right on the bubble for a wide receiver spot. Litton has a cannon too, so maybe we will see a couple of bombs from him in this one.

How Aggressive Do the Chiefs Get?

Without any starters, it will be interesting to see if the younger guys get to go all out or play more vanilla. The Chiefs have already started to gameplan for the Week 1 matchup against the Chargers, so this game is not the main focus. Bob Sutton is an aggressive type of play caller on defense, so there may still be a good share of blitzes. Eric Bieniemy is also still working towards getting completely ready as the offensive coordinator. We’ll find out on Thursday night.

As always, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage for great sports content! There will plenty of more news and articles coming out this week, right here on Full Press Chiefs.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Three Things to Watch For: Chiefs vs Bears

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Three things to watch
Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune

Week three of the preseason is now upon us. This is generally considered the biggest week of the preseason. The Chiefs head to the Windy City to face the Bears. This game features a few big headlines to look towards. Here are the three things to watch for in week three of the preseason.

Do Well, Young Grasshopper

The Andy Reid coaching tree continues to grow new leaves every passing season. A couple of years ago, we saw Doug Pederson leave the offensive coordinator job in Kansas City to become the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. How did that work out for him? Well, he brought the Eagles their first-ever Super Bowl last season in just his second year as head coach.

Now, Matt Nagy has followed suit. Nagy was the offensive coordinator after Pederson left, and he was a top three coaching candidate for most teams looking to upgrade to a new coach in 2018. Nagy takes over a Bears squad who has not made the postseason since 2010 and has a lot of new faces.

Even though it’s just the preseason, this should be fun to see how Reid and Nagy both try to counteract each other. Reid mentioned, “he’s doing some good things,” after watching tape of Chicago’s last game. “It’s a little bit like looking in the mirror when looking at their offense… he’s added a few wrinkles, but mostly the same stuff.”

Nagy obviously got the chance to be around Patrick Mahomes last season, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t get to talk to his current quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky. The Chiefs hosted Trubisky on a visit last year in the draft process, so Nagy knew what he had in a quarterback before taking the job this offseason.

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Season Debuts

It is not guaranteed, but all signs point to some Chiefs making their preseason debuts against the Bears.

The first one is running back Spencer Ware. Ware suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third preseason game last year, and the Chiefs have brought him back slowly. All indications point to Ware being ready for the start of the season though. Ware received a bigger role in 2016, so it was devastating for him to suffer the injury last season.

Next, are two debuts at a position where the Chiefs need some production. Both inside linebackers Reggie Ragland and Anthony Hitchens are guys that the Chiefs are building their defense around. After the release of Derrick Johnson and the performance of the run defense the last few years, Ragland and Hitchens are perfect fits for the Chiefs going forward. Both players are young, fast and sure tacklers. They both also possess the leadership qualities that Kansas City is looking for.

Finally, we will likely see the debut of a newly signed Chief. Defensive back Orlando Scandrick was signed by the Chiefs earlier this week, after being released by Washington. Scandrick has been used as the third cornerback at times in practice this week. He is a veteran who can help at a position that has struggled to provide stability for Kansas City.

Starting Off Hot

Mahomes and the starting offense have performed well for the most part in the first two preseason games. However, the first drive has stalled out in both games and the Chiefs failed to get into a tempo early on. Hopefully, this is a habit the offense can get out of soon before the regular season kicks off. Andy Reid is adding more playing time for the starters again this week. In the first preseason game it was two drives and then the offense played the entire first half last week. It will be three quarters this week, per the head coach. As always, health is something that the Chiefs want to have constantly, but more progress is a big goal here too.

Those are the three things to watch for the Chiefs against the Bears. This game should be a good one and be sure to follow along on Twitter during the game on the Full Press Chiefs account. As always, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage for great sports content.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Three Things to Watch For: Chiefs vs Falcons

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Three things to watch

Week two of the preseason is upon us, as the Chiefs will travel down to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. Like Kansas City, the Falcons have high hopes for the 2018 season due to the fact that their roster looks to be one of the deepest in the league. Now, let’s take a quick look at what fans can look forward to for this game.

Mahomes and Co.

The Chiefs starting offense is slated to play in the entire first half against the Falcons, per Andy Reid. The 1’s are likely looking for a much more crisp performance than what occurred last week against the Texans. Granted it was the first live game action of the season, but Patrick Mahomes took a concerning amount of hits during dropbacks in those two drives. What Mahomes excelled on though, was the timing and pocket presence to find open receivers. The offensive line took some heat from the fans, as the Houston starters were penetrating the line of scrimmage consistently.

How much will the starters display against Atlanta? It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Chiefs keep things vanilla, but the Chiefs’ type of vanilla may be more extreme than other teams. Seems like it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give Kareem Hunt some much-needed work both inside and outside, while the offense could keep things balanced.

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Same Face, New Place

The Chiefs will be going up against one former defender in this contest. Safety Ron Parker signed a cheap one year deal to gain a shot with the Falcons. Parker was one of many defenders who were cut this offseason by Kansas City because the Chiefs looked to get younger and as a fast as possible. The safety will be looking to celebrate for two reasons due to the fact that he is turning 31 years old the day of this game. It will be interesting to see how much the Chiefs pick on Parker in this one.

More UDFA Success?

The Chiefs coaches had to have liked what they saw late in the game last week. UDFA signings like Chase Litton, Darrel Williams and Ben Niemann did a lot of things well late in a close game. Williams was able to muscle through some tackles and rack up some yards out in space. Niemann made some quick reads on defense that led to some needed tackles for the unit before a big play could occur. In fact, Niemann led the Chiefs in tackles in this game with five. Litton was steady in the two-minute drill. Unfortunately, the final attempt to tie the game went off the hands of tight end Alex Ellis. Above all, seeing more success from these players would be big as the regular season draws closer.

Those were three things to watch for Chiefs fans in the second preseason game of 2018. As always, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage for great sports content!

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Chiefs Offensive Line: Projected 53 Man Roster

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Chiefs offensive line

The Chiefs offensive line will have to be able to handle all that is brought unto them this season. With a new quarterback, there will be changes to defensive schemes and how the offense is supposed to respond. That being said, let’s continue our roster projections with the offensive line.

Offensive Linemen on the current roster: Eric Fisher, Cam Erving, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz, Bryan Witzmann, Jordan Devey, Andrew Wylie, Parker Ehinger, Kahlil McKenzie, Ryan Hunter, James Murray, Bentley Spain, Ethan Cooper, Alex Officer

Bringing the Beef – Outside

The offensive line will have some work to do this season, especially seeing how the starters performed in the first preseason game against Houston. It was only two drives and Patrick Mahomes still completed five of his seven pass attempts, but Mahomes took too many shots considering how much he played. Progression will likely come throughout the season, as offensive linemen can find their grooves and build off week-to-week performances.

Now, let’s take a bigger look at the starting five. First, Mitchell Schwartz was paid handsomely when he signed with Kansas City and he has been stellar. Schwartz has shut down the likes of Von Miller multiple times in big time division games. His ability to stop pass rushers allowed Alex Smith to sit comfortably in the pocket and roll out if needed. He is also reliable, as he has started all 96 games in his career without missing a snap. The Chiefs were lucky to get Schwartz, and looking back, it’s very surprising to see that Cleveland did not make more of an effort to resign him in 2016.

On the opposite end, Eric Fisher has never seemed to live up to what the fans expected from him. Fisher was the number one overall pick in 2013, and for the most part, he has done alright. The biggest downside has been the penalties, and most have occurred in big moments, for example, the Divisional Round playoff loss against the Steelers in 2016. Where Fisher has excelled is in the run game. Not that he is dreadful in the passing game, but Fisher gets lateral very well and his reach allows runners to bounce outside and find more ground with ease.

Bringing the Beef – Inside

The inside part of the offensive line is a bit underrated, starting with center Mitch Morse. His leadership is evident and he speaks with a heavy heart. Morse has dealt with some injuries the last couple of years, but he has done a good job of playing through them and getting back on the field.

Then there is Laurent Duvernay-Tardif; this man can do it all. Every season he continues to improve and become one of the better guards in the league. This improvement is good to see, as he joined Kansas City as an unknown. Players deserve tremendous credit just as much for things they do off the field, as well. A major accomplishment for Duvernay-Tardif happened this past offseason. Duvernay-Tardif graduated medical school back in May and he has mastered the multi-tasking very well. Above all, medicine remains his passion. Things continue to look up for Duvernay-Tardif, as he still has a lot of time left on his current contract.

Finally, we look at Cam Erving. Erving was a first round pick in 2015 by the Cleveland Browns and with the dysfunction surrounding the franchise, the pick became an instant waste by the team. The Chiefs acquired Erving in a trade right before the regular season last year and he ended up playing in 13 games. He brings a lot of versatility to the offensive line, which is what Zach Fulton brought to the Chiefs in past seasons. But now, Fulton is with the Texans. The Chiefs did decline Erving’s fifth-year option, so he will become a free agent after the season. That makes 2018 an important season for Erving to perform well.

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Role Players

Hopefully, there are no injuries, but there is still a desire to see players that don’t win starting jobs get better. Bryan Witzmann and Jordan Devey have done a fair job in past seasons when getting a shot, and they are virtual locks to fill up roster spots as guys that can do what is needed when called upon.

For the other two backup spots, I see it coming down to three guys. First, there is Parker Ehinger who suffered a devastating knee injury in the middle of his rookie season in 2016 and has hardly been at the same level since. It has been a tough time getting back to himself and the last few preseason games will need to be good performances for Ehinger to make the team. Guard Ryan Hunter is another guy that I believe is on the roster bubble. The Chiefs signed him as an undrafted free agent this offseason and he is drawing plenty of comparisons to Duvernay-Tardif. Will he continue to impress like he has early on in training camp?

Finally, Kahlil McKenzie is the other one I see as a tough decision to make for the Chiefs. When the Chiefs drafted McKenzie, it was assumed that he would continue to play defensive tackle like he did at the University of Tennessee. The Chiefs are trying to transform McKenzie into an offensive lineman, and so far there has been a steady progression. What McKenzie brings is plenty of size and strong legs up front. When the final cuts are all made, maybe all three of these guys could make the active roster. But for now, I see two of these three making it with one going on the practice squad.

Final depth chart:

LT: 1) Eric Fisher 2) Bryan Witzmann

LG: 1) Cam Erving 2) Kahlil McKenzie

C: 1) Mitch Morse

RG: 1) Laurent Duvernay-Tardif 2) Jordan Devey 3) Ryan Hunter

RT: 1) Mitchell Schwartz

That will do it for the Chiefs offensive line projections. We will now move on to the defense next time, as the defensive line will have plenty to look at. As always, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage for great sports content.

– Braden Holecek is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on and Facebook.

– Kyle Senra is the editor for the Kansas City Chiefs on Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on and Facebook.

Three Things to Watch For: Chiefs vs Texans

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three things to watch
kbtx.com

Chiefs football finally returns this Thursday, as Kansas City will open their preseason schedule by hosting the Houston Texans. There will be plenty of eye candy to look out for in this first rehearsal for the regular season. Let’s break down three things to watch for in this contest.

Newcomers

Arrowhead won’t be as rocking as a regular season game, but it will be important nonetheless. Rookies and newly acquired free agents alike will get the chance to showcase themselves. They will also feel the pressure of playing in their home field for the first time; a great evaluation tool. Most of the Chiefs rookies are on the defensive side of the ball. That means every level of the defense will be filled with tight position battles in the game against the Texans.

Safety Armani Watts was touted by some to be the Chiefs best draft pick. Daniel Sorensen will have to have knee surgery causing him to miss time early in the regular season, and Watts will now have one of the better opportunities to get a chance to start on defense. The top draft pick, Breeland Speaks was listed as the second string LOLB, behind Justin Houston, on the Chiefs’ first depth chart of 2018. Given last season’s pass rush, that is big for Speaks to be that high on the depth chart before any real game reps. Others like Sammy Watkins and Kendall Fuller will likely only get one or two drives max, but there is plenty of hype surrounding those new additions to watch as well.

Defensive Improvements

The defense is looking for a major turnaround after finishing 28th in total defense last year. The pass rush and secondary will be two things to watch in this game. Opposite of Speaks, second-year player Tanoh Kpassagnon is looking to breakout and both players are going to have a role to fill for the Chiefs. In the secondary, Marcus Peters is gone, but the defensive backs have had a really strong camp overall. Steven Nelson may be on the verge of having his best season. But being able to find more strengths than weaknesses with those make or break roster guys, like Arrion Springs and D’Montre Wade, will be major in the second half.

Offensive Coordination

Lastly, this will be offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s first game in his new role. Andy Reid always has a stranglehold over the play calling, and that will continue in 2018. Bieniemy is getting a chance to lead an offense that has plenty of new faces. He has been with Reid in Kansas City before as the running backs coach. Bieniemy’s mindset exemplifies Reid very well. How he handles certain situations in this game will be fun to watch.

Enjoy the game Thursday and the three things to watch that were mentioned in this article. Excitement is building as we continue to get closer and closer to the regular season. Be sure to stay tuned to Full Press Coverage for more great sports content.

You can follow me on Twitter: @ebearcat9

 

Chiefs Tight Ends: Projected 53 Man Roster

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Chiefs tight ends
Travis Kelce (cred: USA Today Images)

The most athletic tight end room in the NFL? That’s what Travis Kelce believes of the Chiefs tight ends heading into the season. With an uptick in competition, something general manager Brett Veach believed was necessary for the 2018 season, the battle for spots behind Kelce is another battle to look forward to at training camp. Let’s break down who makes the squad at this particular position for Kansas City.

Tight Ends on the current roster: Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, Jace Amaro, Tim Wright, Alex Ellis

NFL’s Best Tight End?

Travis Kelce has long been compared to Rob Gronkowski as the best tight end in the game. Others like Delanie Walker, Greg Olsen, Zach Ertz and plenty of other tight ends deserve major props as well. But Kelce has created a whole new look to the tight end position. Kelce may be one of the crispest route runners in the league and his little wiggles and shakes at the top of routes create more separation than is noticed.

“Even when I thought the tight end room couldn’t get any better… it’s looking like as athletic of a room I’ve ever been in,” Kelce said. Does Kelce possibly believe that new additions like Jace Amaro and Tim Wright exemplify his game more than past backups? With all the changes to the Chiefs offense, this could compile more catches on the outside for Kelce.

The Field

Demetrius Harris is still learning how to become a complete tight end, but I believe his spot as the number two tight end is safe. Harris’ catching has improved, but his blocking ability has always been just as good, if not better, than his ability to make catches. Unfortunately, Harris will be suspended for the first game of the 2018 season, due to violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

Andy Reid loves to run three tight end sets. Could the number of times the Chiefs use that set decrease with Patrick Mahomes taking over? Possibly, but it likely will always be instilled in an Andy Reid offense.

The final spot among Chiefs tight ends will likely to come down to Jace Amaro and Tim Wright.

Amaro was the 49th overall pick by the Jets in 2014. In his rookie season, Amaro played in 14 games and had 345 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. In 2015, he suffered a torn labrum in the preseason and missed the entire season. Finally, last season, Amaro got a chance with the Titans, but only appeared in 3 games.

Wright has been a journeyman throughout his NFL career. In three seasons from 2013-15, Wright played in 41 games with the Buccaneers, Patriots and Lions. Over those three years, Wright had just over 900 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. Not a bad three year stretch for a tight end. Unfortunately for Wright, all of 2016 was lost due to a torn ACL and he was a preseason cut last season as well.

Both Amaro and Wright are similar, but strictly guessing what the Chiefs will do, I believe Amaro will win the third and final spot on the tight end depth chart. The preseason will provide a lot more chances for both guys, but I think Amaro will be able to edge out Wright due to his ability to run any type of route with ease as well as his blocking attributes. Unless Alex Ellis surprises, he will likely be cut by the Chiefs. He was a UDFA signing back in April.

Final Depth Chart: 1) Travis Kelce 2) Demetrius Harris 3) Jace Amaro

That will do it for the Chiefs tight ends. Next time we project the Kansas City offensive line. As always, be sure to check out all the great sports content at Full Press Coverage.

 

Chiefs Wide Receivers: Projected 53 Man Roster

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Chiefs wide receivers
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (cred: USA Today Images)

It’s that time again: projecting 53-Man roster spots for the Kansas City Chiefs. We turn our attention to the Chiefs wide receivers in an attempt to determine who will make the team. There were several tough decisions to make as I put myself in Brett Veach’s shoes, as the preseason games should show how close some of these final cuts could be. Now, let’s get to it.

Wide Receivers on the current roster: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas, Jehu Chesson, Marcus Kemp, Byron Pringle, Jordan Smallwood, Gehrig Dieter, Daniel Braverman, Josh Crockett

The Cheetah and Sam I Am

Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins enter 2018 as the top two Chiefs wide receivers. By now, everyone is well aware of Hill being commonly known as the Cheetah. His blazing speed has been portrayed plenty of times on punt returns, vertical routes and even handoffs. Hill has grown greatly as a receiver and now he has a chance to begin an even larger role with Patrick Mahomes stepping in. As a starting receiver in 2017, Hill finished with 75 receptions, 1183 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.

The Chiefs made a major free agent signing by giving Watkins a 3 year/ $48 million deal back in March. General manager Brett Veach mentioned that he tried calling Buffalo before the 2017 season began to attempt to acquire Watkins, but Veach knew that the price was too steep as the Chiefs did not have a first round pick in 2018. The Rams landed Watkins instead.

Watkins stated in his introductory press conference, that he wanted the opportunity to choose where he would go in free agency and Mahomes and the potentially explosive offense was what attracted him to Kansas City. “Just the Chiefs Kingdom. I played here two years ago and I feel like I fed off these fans, the atmosphere,” Watkins said. “And of course you have the Hall of Fame coach Andy Reid, you have Patrick Mahomes. I just want to be somewhere where I can be comfortable, where my family could be comfortable, really where I can just raise my family and be happy and that’s what made me choose here.”

Also, Watkins is coming off one of the healthiest seasons of his career. In his lone season with the Rams, Watkins played in 15 games. In his three seasons with Buffalo, Watkins had only one full season in which he played in all 16 games due to nagging injuries. Injuries are uncontrollable, but Watkins looked arguably the best he has since coming into the league.

Finally, the hunger in Chiefs Kingdom is rich. Watkins is as excited as the fans and coaches are about the potential that this offense has. Surprisingly, Watkins cut his trademark dreads by the time he showed up at training camp. Take it for what it’s worth, but this is yet another element that proves Watkins is all in for Kansas City.

Time to Breakout?

For Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson and De’Anthony Thomas, it feels like this season could be the year where they reach their full potential.

Conley has continued to grow since coming into the NFL, but there have been few opportunities for him in the past. He is coming into 2018 off of a torn achilles injury. The injury happened when Conley recovered an onside kick against the Texans and was untouched. Like the aforementioned Watkins, Conley’s hunger seems to be at an all-time high, especially due to the injury. Conley has previously spent most of his time on the outside and is set to start at LWR.

Demarcus Robinson received more opportunities on offense in 2017, mostly in the second half of the season. All of Robinson’s career receptions came last year, as he was strictly a special teamer in his rookie season of 2016. Robinson also caught his only career touchdown in last year’s Wild Card loss to the Titans. Robinson has worked extensively since Mahomes came in last season, and he received plenty of targets in Mahomes debut against Denver. If the targets and catches go up again, Robinson has the ability to be the top breakdown player for the Chiefs.

Like Conley, Thomas is also coming into this season off of a major injury. On a punt return in last year’s regular-season finale, Thomas suffered a broken leg. After successful surgery, he is getting a chance to stake his claim in the Chiefs offense. Thomas has an opportunity to add so much to the underneath routes for Mahomes, as Hill and Watkins run deep.

The Final Cuts

I project that Jehu Chesson and Byron Pringle will be the final two players to make the active roster as Chiefs wide receivers.

Chesson enters his second season with Kansas City. He spent most of last season as a special teamer but did have a couple of receptions in the Denver finale game. Chesson will likely still have a major impact on special teams, but his consistency to make catches so far in camp could lead to possible opportunities when needed on offense.

Personally, I see Pringle edging out Marcus Kemp and Jordan Smallwood for the final receiver spot. Pringle is getting a shot with the Chiefs, after going undrafted back in April. Like Chesson, Pringle’s consistency to make catches, any types of catches, is what allows him to make the roster. Pringle can excel in deep routes and coaches can place him anywhere in the offense. Pringle may not get a ton of offensive chances, but I think he brings enough as an all-around player to make the team.

Kemp, Smallwood, Gehrig Dieter, Daniel Braverman, and Josh Crockett all just miss the cut. There are definitely going to be tough decisions to make for Veach and the front office. Kemp came so close last season but was placed on the practice squad. Like Pringle, Smallwood was a UDFA that is getting a chance to try out as one of the Chiefs wide receivers. Dieter, Braverman, and Crockett will all likely have to surprise in order to make the team.

Final Depth Chart:

LWR: 1) Tyreek Hill 2) Byron Pringle

RWR: 1) Chris Conley 2) Demarcus Robinson 3) Jehu Chesson

SLOT: 1) Sammy Watkins 2) De’Anthony Thomas

Those are my projections for the Chiefs wide receivers. Next time, we will take a look at the Chiefs tight ends. As always, be sure to check out all the great sports content at Full Press Coverage.

Chiefs Running Backs: Projected 53 Man Roster

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Chiefs running backs
Dec 24, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) scores a touchdown during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It is time for more projections. There are plenty of headlines to take into account when looking at the Kansas City Chiefs running backs heading into 2018. Without any more delay, let’s take a look at the Chiefs running backs and predict who will make the final roster.

Running Backs on the current roster: Kareem Hunt, Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, Damien Williams, Kerwynn Williams, Darrel Williams

Hunting Season

Kareem Hunt will undoubtedly enter his sophomore season with high expectations. In his rookie season, Hunt finished as the NFL’s leading rusher. Despite that satisfying feat, the Chiefs somehow steered away from Hunt in the Wild Card loss to the Titans, as he only garnered eleven carries.

There are some different qualities in Hunt’s game that allowed him to achieve that impressive first season. First, Hunt has the field vision that allows him to see any hole and try and hit it. This is something that Hunt showed from the Senior Bowl in 2017 before the Chiefs drafted him, and defenses continued to allow cutbacks that become common week in and week out. Hunt also showed that it takes a strong, hard-hitting tackle to bring him down. According to Pro Football Focus, Hunt forced 77 missed tackles, 61 of those were rushing and 16 on receiving. His forced missed tackles were also the best mark in the league.

No. 2 Running Back

The number two running back spot on the depth chart looks to be between Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West.

Coming into 2017, the Chiefs had released Jamaal Charles and the starting job was solely in the hands of Ware. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn PCL and additional knee damage in the third preseason game. Ware missed the entire season. Following the injury, Ware looks as good as new heading into this season. Now, there have only been looks of Ware on social media videos and other reports, but at least there is good news. Andy Reid mentioned that Ware “is good” heading into training camp.

As for West, his pass blocking is always entertaining to watch. There seems to be at least one defender that flips over and is cut down by West every game in passing situations. West has achieved at least 150 receiving yards in all of his last three years. So, if the number two running back spot is not his, West’s third-down presence is still necessary for the Chiefs.

Meet the Williams

This is not a typo. There actually are three Williams, all in the running back room for the Chiefs.

Both Damien and Kerwynn have some NFL experience and are both entering their first campaign with the Chiefs.  Damien has been used mostly as a receiving back in his career with the Dolphins, but he has been given plenty of opportunities as a rusher as well. Kerwynn enjoyed his first full season last year, playing in all sixteen games with the Cardinals. He racked up just over 500 total yards in a season where Arizona’s top running back was out with an injury.

Meanwhile, Darrel has come a long way to be a part of the Chiefs heading into training camp. Like Spencer Ware, Darrel Williams was a former high school quarterback who eventually became a running back. Also like Ware, Darrel played his college ball at LSU. He did not get a ton of opportunities, as he sat behind both Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice during his time there. But as a complementary back, his numbers are still impressive. What could help Darrel make this Chiefs team is the versatility he possesses between the tackles and out in space.

Final Depth Chart: 1) Kareem Hunt 2) Spencer Ware 3) Charcandrick West 4) Damien Williams

Like in past seasons, the Chiefs running back depth chart is loaded and some viable contenders are going to get the short end of the stick and not make the active roster. Hunt and Ware are the powerhouses and the main focal point of the Chiefs running game. Besides the aforementioned third-down presence that West exuberates, his leadership and experience will be needed with a young quarterback like Patrick Mahomes stepping in. The war between the Williams looks to be in Damien Williams’ hands. The main reason being that the Chiefs are more likely to use two running back sets in passing situations. This is something that Mahomes ran while at Texas Tech, and Damien has shown that his hands are consistent out of the backfield.

As for Kerwynn and Darrel, it is highly likely that it comes down to the final cut day as to if they make the active roster or not. Both have the abilities and it should be a fun battle to watch. Come regular season time, one or the other, or maybe both have the ability to land on the Chiefs practice squad.

That was my analysis of the Chiefs running backs and their chances of making the team. The line will keep on moving with these projections. It will be time to look at the wide receivers in our next projection. As always, remember to check out Full Press Coverage for great sports content.

Chiefs 2018 Breakout Candidates: Defense

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Chiefs DL Tanoh Kpassagnon

Defense wins championships. That has always been the mantra in the NFL game for a long standing time. The Chiefs defense is revamped in many areas, as last year’s Wild Card loss to the Titans forced Kansas City to finally make some much needed changes. Last time we took a look at three breakout candidates on the offense side, now let’s take a look at three breakout players for the Chiefs defense in 2018.

Tanoh Kpassagnon

First things first, we need to look at the pass rush. The pass rush has seemed erratic over the last couple of years. Besides Justin Houston, it seems like the other edge rushing spot could be a revolving door. But, Kpassagnon has the chance to lock that spot down. Kpassagnon looks to be in tremendous shape, even better shape than last season, which is unreal to see. With Kpassagnon entering just his second season, there is still some uncertainty in his durability. But his ability, is what will lead him to success in 2018. His speed combined with a 6’7”, 280 pound frame gives him some of an advantage going into camp.

Robert Golden

The Chiefs signed Robert Golden back in April during free agency. Golden is a free safety with above average cover skills and the range to chase down most receivers. The Chiefs will be getting Eric Berry back, which is huge. However, other than that nothing appears guaranteed in the Chiefs secondary for 2018. Honestly, it looks to be more of a committee approach other than number one starters for the Chiefs secondary. If Golden can grab a hold of the free safety spot, the Chiefs pass defense will already be better than last season, considering pass coverage. For Golden, one trait that particularly makes him stand out is how he rarely gets fooled by his opponents. If Golden can “breakout” the Chiefs will not have to pull as much of their defensive backs out of position for 2018.

Xavier Williams

Last year, Bennie Logan was brought in to replace Dontari Poe at nose tackle. Logan is already out of Kansas City after one season. Plus, the Chiefs decided to bring in Xavier Williams in free agency. Williams is back in his hometown of Kansas City, and he has stated how big of a Chiefs fan he was when growing up. The defensive tackle position is a spot that the Chiefs need to see some major improvement at.

In the last few years, the rotation the Chiefs used at defensive tackle really only made sure the Chiefs had eleven. With Williams, there’s an opportunity for Kansas City to find there lockdown tackle for the next few years. Last year, the production from Bennie Logan just wasn’t where it needed to be. Poe had some good seasons in Kansas City, but during the home stretch to his time with the Chiefs, injuries held him back compared to his first couple of years in the league.

Chiefs 2018 Breakout Candidates: Offense

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Chiefs RB Damien Williams
Sep 17, 2017; Carson, CA, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Damien Williams (26) looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Predictions are always fun to throw out. A breakout season can determine so much for players in the NFL. Once players show glimpses, their careers can change in an instant. The Chiefs offense is ready to turn heads around the league. There are players who we know have big expectations already, for example Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill to name a few. But here, we will take a look at three players that have a chance to “breakout” for the Chiefs in 2018.

DeMarcus Robinson

DeMarcus Robinson will be entering his third season with the Chiefs out of the University of Florida. Robinson has not had a lot of opportunities in the Chiefs offense so far, with just 21 career receptions. Most of those 21 receptions came in the last two games of last season, which was Mahomes debut against Denver. Also, during the Wild Card game against Tennessee. Robinson also started eight games in 2017, after not starting any games in his rookie season in 2016. In his rookie season, Robinson was mainly a special teamer.

With Albert Wilson signing with the Miami Dolphins in free agency, Robinson could earn a starting job. Behind Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, the wide receiver depth chart includes Chris Conley, Marcus Kemp, Byron Pringle, De’Anthony Thomas and Gehrig Dieter. Besides the aforementioned Denver game where we saw Mahomes debut, Robinson has already had plenty of work with Mahomes in camps and practices. Robinson’s best trait is stretching the field and being able to run crisp routes. If Robinson wins a starting job, the sky’s the limit for his 2018 season.

Damien Williams

The Chiefs running back room is very crowded going into 2018. Kareem Hunt enters his second season after leading the NFL in rushing in 2017. Spencer Ware looks to rebound after miss all of last season with a knee injury. General manager Brett Veach has strongly urged more and more competition in 2018, so it will be intriguing to see what the final depth chart will end up being for the RBs.

Damien Williams was brought to Kansas City to be another target for Mahomes. Williams is listed as a running back, but just as much of his career numbers arose from receptions. In all four of those seasons, Williams has had more than 155 receiving yards and 20 receptions. The most rushing yards in a single season Williams has had is 181. With Williams the Chiefs can run plenty of two running back sets with Mahomes. This is just another new wrinkle that will find its way into the offense..

Tim Wright

Yes, Travis Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the NFL and he has racked up plenty of yards in his career. But, Andy Reid loves to have his extra tight ends who can contribute as well. Tim Wright could very well challenge for the number two tight end spot, as Demetrius Harris has struggled to improve as a pass catcher and he also received a one game suspension for 2018. Wright has 89 career receptions for 907 yards when he previously played for Tampa Bay, New England and Detroit. Wright can bring something to the Chiefs just like Damien Williams can, and that’s adding as much pass catchers around Mahomes as they can.

 

 

 

 

2018 Chiefs Draft Review: KC Addresses the Defense and Needs

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Kansas City Chiefs NT Derrick Nnadi
Oct 31, 2015; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (91) celebrates a tackle for a loss against the Syracuse Orange at Doak Campbell Stadium. Florida State won 45-21. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone. The Kansas City Chiefs ended up making six selections over the three day period. Here is a list of the Chiefs 2018 draft class.

-Breeland Speaks, DL/OLB, Ole Miss

-Derrick Nnadi, DL, Florida State

-Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Clemson

-Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M

-Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas

Khalil McKenzie, DL/OG, Tennessee

Reactions have been mixed by draft experts coming out of Draft Weekend. Some think the Chiefs found gems and players with value who are ready to compete. Others believe the Chiefs reached on many of their picks, and think the defense is still slight.

The good thing about these mixed reactions is that we don’t know for sure how this draft class will perform. That doesn’t just go for the Chiefs, but any team’s class from this year. But good class or bad class, the Chiefs offseason plan has stayed stagnant.

“I knew we had to get better on defense and get tougher,” says general manager Brett Veach coming out of the weekend. Getting tougher remains the mantra used by Veach and that is exactly what the Chiefs did with their draft selections. The selections may not be seen as splash moves, but the picks fill glaring weaknesses Kansas City had heading into the draft. Let’s see how this stands true.

First, Breeland Speaks is a pass rusher whose motor does not stop. Speaks played in many different spots on the defensive line at Ole Miss. The Chiefs still see Speaks as a major upgrade to the pass rush, but Speaks could move to the outside linebacker position. If you saw the video of when the Chiefs called Speaks to let him know of the selection, head coach Andy Reid said, “We told you we’d get it done.” So, even though Speaks seems like a reach at 46th overall, the Chiefs appear all in on him throughout a major portion of the draft process.

Next, we take a look at Derrick Nnadi. Nnadi was drafted by Kansas City to do primarily one thing. That is to stop the run. The Chiefs have constantly struggled against the run in recent years, and ranked 25th in run defense last season. Nnadi’s tape at FSU shows just how well he can split double teams, and effortlessly throw defenders off of him. Like Speaks, Nnadi is a tackling machine who the Chiefs will rotate in and out as a two down defender.

The Chiefs ended all of day two of draft weekend by selecting Dorian O’Daniel. O’Daniel played linebacker at Clemson, and he is the type of player that more and more NFL scouts are looking for at the linebacker position. O’Daniel is a speedy defender, who has played at 215 pounds at Clemson.

There’s been ideas to throw O’Daniel at many different positions besides linebacker. For example, he could fill at safety or even slot corner with his above average cover skills. Kansas City will most likely use O’Daniel in dime situations, which has become a common defensive base set for the Chiefs under defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. The Chiefs also liked what the prowess that O’Daniel displayed on special teams. A cool moment on O’Daniel’s selection, new Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller was at O’Daniel’s draft party as they both played high school football together and remained friends.

The Chiefs found value in the latter part of the fourth round by selecting safety Armani Watts. Veach mentioned that he was surprised Watts fell to the 4th round. So if Watts had not been there, Veach hinted the Chiefs may have went offense with the 124th pick. Watts flips the field very well at safety. His career stats include ten interceptions, seventeen pass deflections, and over three hundred total tackles. Watts also lived up to expectations that he entered with at Texas A&M, as he was a four year starter for the Aggies. Not a bad pairing to put along side Eric Berry.

Once again on day three, the Chiefs filled a need in the secondary. Cornerback Tremon Smith displays confidence in his abilities. Smith is well-built for a six foot corner, and he also notched twelve interceptions in three years as a starter at Central Arkansas. The Chiefs already have Tyreek Hill, but Smith shined as a punt returner, so maybe special teams coach Dave Toub will attempt to run Smith at kick returner.

Lastly, we get to look at Khalil McKenzie. Technically when the Chiefs drafted McKenzie, it seemed Kansas City did in fact go all defense when their draft selections were complete. But, the Chiefs have something else in mind for McKenzie. He will transition from defensive tackle to play guard on the offensive line. Andy Reid has always been a big fan of having depth at the offensive line, and now there is a new project there for him to work with. McKenzie’s speed and impressive size (6’3”, 315 pounds) should help to make that transition easier. The Chiefs-Raiders rivalry also receives a new wrinkle added to it, as McKenzie’s dad is Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie.

Once again, experts did not herald this draft as particularly productive. But, the defense didn’t get worse with these selections. Kansas City will meet Veach’s demands for competition on defense.

 

 

 

Our Newest Titan: Rashaan Evans

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The Basics

Rashaan Evans, a 6-foot-3 232 pound monster out of the University of Alabama. Evans has been compared to Lawrence Timmons, which is certainly not a bad thing. Evans is a perfect fit for this Titans defense. He’s the prototypical breed of linebackers that we are seeing more and more of in today’s game. Evans has good length, great speed, and a keen ability to diagnose plays as they develop.

College

Evans was a 4 year player at Alabama. It wasn’t until his junior year that he was truly a full-fledged starter. Throughout his 4 year career, Evans racked up 150 total tackles. 23.5 of those tackles were for a loss, along with 15 total sacks. Evans really came onto the scene this past year finishing the season with 74 total tackles. 13 of those for a loss, along with 6 sacks. Evans also had a fumble recovery and 3 passes defended. Evans really showcased all of his talents last season, and the Titans are lucky to have him. Look for Evans to immediately make a difference on this defense. He has the ability to step right in and be a key starter on this increasingly confident defense.

Overall Thoughts

The Titans made a great decision here. I think we all got excited when we saw the Titans were trading up in the draft. We knew that whoever they were taking, they were sold on him. Giving up the 125th pick in this years draft is an interesting move. Add that to our first rounder and it just truly shows how much confidence they already have in Evans to perform. The Titans needed an edge-rusher, and that’s what they went out and got. Dig deeper though, and you’ll see that they got much more than that. Evans has the ability to go out into coverage and make the necessary plays. His versatility will be key on this defense, it will be fun to see everything he can do on the field.

What’s Next?

Keep your eyes peeled Titans fans. Even though we drafted one of our biggest needs, I don’t think that means we won’t re-visit it given the opportunity. Look for them to consider all options moving forward, including adding another edge-rusher. Yes, we have other needs to address, however that may not stop them. Harold Landry is linked to Tennessee by a lot of analysts. With him falling out of the first round, could we see the Titans make a play to obtain him as well?

2018 Kansas City Chiefs Schedule

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Kansas City Chiefs
Dec 24, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) scores a touchdown during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs
Dec 24, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) scores a touchdown during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, the NFL released the regular season schedule for all 32 teams. The Chiefs will be entering their sixth season under the leadership of head coach Andy Reid. Plenty of roster moves have been made, with the draft still to come. Also, all eyes are on Patrick Mahomes, as he gets set for his first full season as the KC starting quarterback. Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Week 1: At Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday September 9 3:05pm CT

The Chiefs had the biggest comeback win in Chiefs history when they hosted the Chargers to begin 2016. But a lot has changed since then, and the Chargers have a lot riding on this season. The AFC West could very well come down to the Chiefs and Chargers again in 2018. The Chargers have had plenty of trouble with the Chiefs recently, losing eight straight to Kansas City. So, this could end up being a good start to the Chiefs season if the Chiefs dominance over the Bolts continues.

Week 2: At Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday September 16 Noon CT

With the second game, the Chiefs face arguably their biggest nemesis since Andy Reid has become head coach. This game could have some extra incentive for the Steelers, as it will be their home opener. The Steelers have also won four straight home openers. Pittsburgh can sometimes have slow starts in early season games though, so this could be a chance for the Chiefs to steal a win on the road at the right time, early on in the season.

Week 3: Vs San Francisco 49ers, Sunday September 23 Noon CT

The Chiefs home opener looks to be one of the more juicer matchups on the Chiefs home schedule this year. Jimmy Garoppolo vs Patrick Mahomes should be a beauty to watch. The head coaching matchup is very intriguing as well, as Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan have some of the deepest minds in the league. The new look 49ers look to have high expectations for 2018 in the rugged NFC Conference. Really exciting game for the home opener.

Week 4: At Denver Broncos, Monday October 1 7:15pm CT

The Chiefs head to Mile High for their first primetime game of the year. The Broncos are looking to rebound after one of their worst seasons in recent history. Denver currently hold the fifth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, will they draft a quarterback? Even if they do, Case Keenum is slated to be under center following a career year with the Vikings.

Week 5: Vs Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday October 7 Noon CT

The Jaguars surprising uproar from last season was good enough to get them to the AFC Championship game. Will they pull back, or will their suffocating defense lead them back to the playoffs? This could easily be one of the best, if not the best defenses Patrick Mahomes and Co. will see all season. Another fun matchup at Arrowhead, that should draw a huge crowd.

Week 6: At New England Patriots, Sunday October 14 7:20pm CT

The Chiefs started off last season right with a opening night primetime win in Foxborough. They will look to do it again this season in mid-October. New England will look a little different with former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, cornerback Malcolm Bulter, and running back Dion Lewis all moving on to continue their careers elsewhere. But the thing is, they still have the greatest quarterback to ever play in Tom Brady. The ageless wonder is still at the top of his game, and it will be another early season monster the Chiefs will have to slay.

Week 7: Vs Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday October 21 Noon CT

It looked very possible that Marvin Lewis was going to be relieved of his duties as head coach of the Bengals at the end of last season. But, a strong push to end last season was enough for Bengals’ brass to give Lewis a chance to prove himself. If the Bengals do play like they did to end last season, the Chiefs will need to be on top of their game coming off the trip to New England.

Week 8: Vs Denver Broncos, Sunday October 28 Noon CT

The Chiefs will be finished with their matchups against the Broncos before their bye week. The Broncos have lost two straight in Kansas City, and who knows how much they will be playing for at this point in a semi-rebuilding year. Part of the reason the Chiefs have found recent success at home against Denver, is because of how they’ve been able to slow down a defense that is still one of the more dominant in the league. But, with Aqib Talib no longer in their secondary, Mahomes and his multiple weapons could have show even more ways to disrupt the Broncos D.

Week 9: At Cleveland Browns, Sunday November 4 Noon CT

John Dorsey never played on the field for the Chiefs, but he was a major part in revamping the Chiefs roster and turning them around going into 2013. The former Chiefs general manager is the newest hire to try and save the hapless Browns franchise. Dorsey is taking over a Browns squad that is just 1-31 in two years with Hue Jackson as head coach and they were the second team ever to finish 0-16 in 2017. With the free agent moves and plentiful draft picks, could Cleveland take a major leap in 2018? It’s not impossible, but it’s been a long time since Cleveland has been able to find any traction.

Week 10: Vs Arizona Cardinals, Sunday November 11 Noon CT

The Cardinals enter 2018 with a rookie head coach and a veteran quarterback who is injury prone in Sam Bradford. On paper, this looks like a very winnable game for the Chiefs. Kansas City also has a good history at home against the Cardinals. The Chiefs have won all four meetings when these teams have met at Arrowhead Stadium.

Week 11: At Los Angeles Rams (in Mexico City), Monday November 19 7:15pm CT

There is so much headlines that fans can look towards with this game. The trip to Mexico City for one, and this game features two of the young, dynamic teams in the NFL. But the biggest storyline for Chiefs fans is going to be Marcus Peters being on the opposite side of Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs traded Peters to the Rams earlier this offseason. Peters stats speak for itself, but his time had just simply ran out in KC. Chiefs fans have seen the emotion Peters plays with, and there will a lot riding on this contest, considering it’s a matchup that does not affect the standings as much as conference games do.

Week 12: BYE WEEK

Week 13: At Oakland Raiders, Sunday December 2 3:05pm CT

Jon Gruden is back to head coaching in the NFL, and out of the announce booth. Gruden will be beginning his second stint as Raiders head coach, and the rivalry is just as intense now as when he was first in Oakland. The Chiefs trip to Oakland last year saw an ugly, unbelieveable ending for Kansas City. Both teams have changed plenty going into 2018, so it could be a bit of a different clash then some of their recent meetings. Great way to start off December.

Week 14: Vs Baltimore Ravens, Sunday December 9 Noon CT

The Ravens looked like they had an easy shot to get into the postseason last year. Then, the Bengals pulled a rabbit out of their hat and slammed the door on the Ravens 2017 season. John Harbaugh’s seat has sure gotten hotter as head coach in recent years. The Ravens will need a big year to possibly save his job. This would be a huge win for Kansas City late in the season, if Baltimore is still pushing for a playoff spot in the AFC.

Week 15: Vs Los Angeles Chargers, Thursday December 13 7:20pm CT

The only primetime game on tap at Arrowhead for 2018. Last year in Week 15, the Chiefs got a big home win over the Chargers on primetime. Last year’s matchup was also essentially for the AFC West crown. Will it be the same result this year?

Week 16: At Seattle Seahawks, Sunday December 23 7:20pm CT

The Chiefs final interconference matchup of 2018 makes for another intriguing quarterback matchup. As crazy of plays that Mahomes can dazzle with and create on the field. Russell Wilson has set a whole other level on making defenders look silly on plays where they should of stopped him. Wilson basically carried Seattle on his back with little help through most of 2017, and now Seattle’s core from their Super Bowl 48 win is starting to disintegrate. Richard Sherman has already left for the rival 49ers. Kam Chancellor has been banged up a lot recently. Earl Thomas seems ready to move on to a new team. Seeing what kind of punch the Seahawks will throw at Kansas City in late December should be interesting.

Week 17: Vs Oakland Raiders, Sunday December 30 Noon CT

The regular season finale will bring the Raiders into Chiefs Kingdom. The Raiders have fallen flat at Arrowhead in recent years, and Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has had some of his worst games in Kansas City. Time will tell how much this game will mean for the AFC West division and the AFC playoff picture, but either way it’s still going to be an entertaining way to end the regular season.

Chiefs Draft Prospect: Parry Nickerson

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Kansas City Chiefs draft prospect Parry Nickerson

 

2018 Chiefs Draft Prospect

Name: Parry Nickerson

Position: Cornerback

School: Tulane

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 185

Competitive

When watching the tape on Nickerson, the first thing that stands out is how competitive he is throughout the entire duration of the game. Nickerson’s not just tough, but he is gritty in coverage. Whether it be in press coverage or zone coverage, wide receivers have a difficult time getting past Nickerson, and quarterbacks have a trying time just throwing his way. His style of play is the definition of ball hawk.

Ball Skills

On 50/50 balls, Nickerson does a good job of boxing out defenders and being able to have a good shot at intercepting the pass. Also, Nickerson does a nice job of high pointing deep passes. The interception numbers are there, especially with ten of his sixteen interceptions at Tulane coming in the last two seasons. It may be bold saying it now, but could he be a Marcus Peters type of skilled cornerback in the NFL.

Body Type

Nickerson’s height and arm length is more positive than negative in his game. At times he can get too aggressive with arm grabbing, and it can cost him. But, cornerback is such a difficult position and it shows how much Nickerson knows when he has leverage against a receiver. This goes back to 50/50 balls deep down the field. That is where most of Nickerson’s interceptions have come from.

Chiefs Draft Prospect: Dorance Armstrong Jr.

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Chiefs draft prospect Dorance Armstrong

 

2018 Chiefs Draft Prospect

Name: Dorance Armstrong Jr.

Position: EDGE

School: Kansas

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 250

Creativity

Armstrong Jr. is a jack of all trades to try and consistently block. Armstrong Jr. uses a plethora of moves to beat the offensive line, including the swim move, spin move, bend and burn, stutter step and his bull rush is not too bad either. This makes his athleticism even more impressive, as it seems like Armstrong Jr. has plenty of speed to catch opposing quarterbacks and knock them down. In addition, he shows great pursuit when locating the ball. As a result, Armstrong is never out of the play. That makes him a headache for offenses. If you watch closely, you can see Armstrong constantly fight to break free.

Leadership

Armstrong Jr’s teammates have raved about him and said how much they have loved him in the past. Armstrong Jr. is known for being a humble, hard working player which perfectly suits Andy Reid and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. If Kansas City would draft Armstrong Jr., they could help him right off the bat with the likes of Justin Houston’s and Eric Berry’s leadership on defense. Despite playing for a struggling Kansas team, Armstrong never relented.

Longevity

The Big 12 conference has never been known for it’s defensive prowess, especially Armstrong Jr’s school from Lawrence, Kansas, who is just 3-33 in the last three years. But even on a bad team, Armstrong Jr. still had a career high in tackles in 2017. And his sack numbers may appear as low, but Armstrong Jr. can go on a tear at any instant. This has put him in position to be a day two draft prospect. According to various NFL rumors, Kansas City appears quite interested in him. In Armstrong, Kansas City could find a bookend for Ford and Houston.

Chiefs Complete More Signings

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Chad Henne

The Kansas City Chiefs have made three moves to continue and set their roster up for 2018 and beyond. All of these moves will have major impacts throughout the roster. With these signings, we will look at how these moves add to the Chiefs depth and gameplan.

The first signing we will take a look at involves football’s most important position, which is quarterback. Yes it is Patrick Mahomes time now, but with third stringer Tyler Bray signing with the Chicago Bears, the Chiefs were still in need of a backup quarterback. The Chiefs made the move to bring in veteran Chad Henne, as he will serve as the backup quarterback. The deal is for two years for a total of $6.7 million.

Henne, 33 years old, spent the past six years of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In his first two seasons in Jacksonville, Henne played in 25 games and threw for 24 touchdowns. Once Blake Bortles was drafted in the first round in 2014, Henne has since been a backup and has only appeared in six games over the last four years. The big thing Henne brings to the Chiefs, is his ability to teach. Henne mentioned, “I’m more than happy to help and make sure Patrick is ready to go and be the most prepared quarterback in the league.” Add that in with Andy Reid’s past tutelage with quarterbacks and that sets up well for Mahomes.

The Chiefs also made a move to try and beef up the defensive line, by signing nose tackle Xavier Williams. Williams not only gets a fresh start with a new team, but he is also coming home. Williams was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1992 and he attended Grandview High School just south of Kansas City. Following his time at Grandview, Williams played college ball at Northern Iowa. In 2015, Williams signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals, where he has played the last three years. Williams fills a major need at defensive tackle for the Chiefs. He also fills the need of being a physical run stopper up the middle and being able to disrupt quarterbacks’ drop backs.

The final of the recent signings we need to mention is for running back Damien Williams. Like Xavier Williams, Damien Williams signed with an NFL team after being an undrafted free agent. Williams has spent his entire four year career with the Miami Dolphins, but not usually as the number one guy.

That will likely be the case with the Chiefs. The Chiefs already have the NFL’s 2017 leading rusher in Kareem Hunt, so how does this impact the Chiefs? Hunt will still go into 2018 as the top man, but Williams provides a lot of upside. Williams could be a perfect guy to become Mahomes’s check down on pass plays. In his career, Williams has 85 receptions out of the backfield, for 733 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Does this mean Spencer Ware’s recovery has been slowed? Or do the Chiefs want to load up on as many running backs as they can? Sometimes having a crowded backfield can be a good thing. For example, the Eagles were Super Bowl champions last year, and their running back combination consisted of LaGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood. All of these guys had major roles and shared the playing time every game.

 

 

Chiefs Officially Release Tamba Hali and Ron Parker

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Former Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali

The Chiefs have officially released two veteran defensive players. Safety Ron Parker and twelve year veteran linebacker Tamba Hali are now on the market, and the Chiefs end up saving $12.7 million in salary cap space. Today, we will look back at both player’s careers in a Chiefs uniform, and how this impacts the future.

First, let’s take a look at Tamba Hali. Hali has spent all of his entire twelve year career with the Chiefs. In the 2006 NFL Draft, the Chiefs selected Hali with the 20th overall pick out of Penn State. In Hali’s rookie season, he won the starting defensive end job out of camp and fared pretty well. Hali finished with eight total sacks, which was three and a half sacks more than the number one overall pick that year, Mario Williams. The Mack Lee Hill award, which is awarded to the Chiefs top rookie for a given year, was also an milestone Hali reached in his first NFL season.

Fast forward to 2010, Hali shined moving from defensive end to outside linebacker, and he finished with an AFC best 14.5 sacks that year. Following 2010, Hali was rewarded with five year, $60 million contract. Hali continued to be a big leader on the team in tackles and sacks for the rest of his career. After playing 172 games in his first eleven seasons, Hali was only able to play in three games in 2017, ultimately his final season in a Chiefs uniform. Hali finished his career as a five time Pro Bowler, a total of 89.5 sacks, and 588 tackles.

Now we will take a look at Ron Parker. Parker made a pretty good name for himself in Kansas City, considering his entry into the NFL. He played his college football at Newberry, a Division II school in South Carolina. Parker went undrafted, and become a free agent who signed with the Seattle Seahawks in 2011. He bounced around on team’s practice squads, moving from Seattle to Oakland, to Seattle again and then Carolina in 2012.

Once Kansas City claimed Parker in 2013, he found a starting job and a home in Chiefs Kingdom. Parker was reliable for the Chiefs, as he played in all sixteen games in all five seasons with the Chiefs. Parker’s stats in Kansas City include nine interceptions, five fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles, and seven sacks. Parker may not get as much recognition as Eric Berry or other veterans have received the last few years, but he was versatile, being able to play both safety and cornerback.

As good of careers that both Hali and Parker enjoyed in Kansas City, the Chiefs are moving into a youth movement. Let’s look at moves general manager Brett Veach has made to back up this youth movement. Harrison Butker, who is twenty-two years old, replaced Cairo Santos at kicker. Early last year, Veach flipped draft picks for linebacker Reggie Ragland and offensive lineman Cam Erving. Ragland is twenty-four years old and Erving is twenty-five years old. Both of these players are guys the Chiefs were high on during their draft year, and the Chiefs were able to get them while they are still young. Plus two secondary additions are younger, as well.

Kendall Fuller is twenty-three years old and David Amerson is twenty-six years old. I would expect Veach to be aggressive in free agency, with more cap space opened up. Whatever positions Kansas City can not sign in free agency will be the focus during the draft. The Chiefs currently have eight draft picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. Veach and the Chiefs do not appear done making more moves yet.

Chiefs Ink Sammy Watkins and Anthony Hitchens

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New Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins
Nov 5, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Sammy Watkins (12) just hangs on to a touchdown reception in the 1st half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

With the free agency signing period officially beginning this week, the Chiefs made some splash moves. On Tuesday, the news broke of two moves that the Chiefs had made, one to the offensive side of the ball and one to the defensive side.

On the offensive side of things, the Chiefs complete their offense by the signing of wide receiver Sammy Watkins. This was a pretty good get for the Chiefs, as Watkins was rumored to have a large market of teams that were wanting his services for 2018 and beyond. The deal is reportedly for three years at $48 million. To the chagrin of some people out there, they feel like Watkins got overpaid. For  athletes, part of the business is being able to accumulate as much money as you can before retirement. On the money side of things for the Chiefs, they are taking a chance on Watkins while he is still young and in his prime.

What does the signing of Watkins mean for the Chiefs? With Albert Wilson signing with the  Dolphins, the Chiefs sign a speedster with great hands in Watkins. Plus, Watkins joins the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt on the Chiefs offense. This also means the Chiefs do not have a big need come draft time at wide receiver. Could the Chiefs still draft one? Besides Watkins and Hill, the Chiefs employ Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas and Jehu Chesson on the depth chart.

Now let’s take a look at what signing the Chiefs made to help out the defense. Middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens has signed with Kansas City, although the terms of the contract are still not finalized.  Hitchens will earn $9 million per year.  Also, the deal runs five years. Hitchens spent his first four years in the NFL with the Dallas , who drafted him in 2014. In his career, Hitchens started in 48 games.

When looking at Hitchens tape, it’s obvious that he can stop the run, something the Chiefs have struggled with the last couple of years. Like Watkins, Hitchens is still young, which backs up the Chiefs other offseason moves. Hitchens youth and playing style also pairs him up perfectly with Reggie Ragland, whom he will share the inside linebacker duties with. There have been many mentions on Hitchens on social media, after this deal came to fruition. Most players seem to think the Chiefs made a good signing by getting the likes of Hitchens to try and improve the defense.

The Chiefs do not appear finished. Look for them to possibly land a defensive tackle as well. But by signing a wide receiver and middle linebacker, the Chiefs tightened up some positions of need that may not have enough depth for them in the draft. If the Chiefs can land a defensive tackle, they are heading into the draft in better shape. The draft seems to have plenty of depth at defensive back.

NFL Free Agent Tracker (Live Updates)

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LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 24: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins warms up before a game against the Denver Broncos at FedExField on December 24, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 24: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins warms up before a game against the Denver Broncos at FedExField on December 24, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Monday at noon kicked off the “legal” tampering stage of NFL Free Agency. The annual talent splurge officially begins at 4pm EST on Wednesday, March 14th. Bookmark this page and continue to check back as we give you the up to the minute news on all the NFL free agents and where they sign.

Free Agency Updates

Last Update: March 14th – 8:20pm EDT








  • The Buffalo Bills are re-signing long-tenured DT Kyle Williams on a 1-year deal. Source
  • Former Chicago Bears’ LB Christian Jones plans to sign a two-year deal with the Detroit Lions. Source
  • Quarterback Kirk Cousins plans to sign a three-year, fully-guaranteed contract from the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday. Source
  • The Chicago Bears are expected to sign TE Trey Burton to a four-year $32M contract. Source.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles are expected to sign Haloti Ngata to a one-year deal. Source.
  • The San Francisco 49ers are expected to sign C/G Weston Richburg to a five-year deal. Source.
  • The Detroit Lions have re-signed safety Tavon Wilson to a 2-yr, $7 million deal. Source
  • The New Orleans Saints have re-signed QB Drew Brees to a two-year deal. Source.
  • The Buffalo Bills are expected to sign  DT Star Lotulelei. Source.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs are expected to LB Anthony Hitchens. Source.




 

 

Chiefs Free Agent Targets: Backup Quarterback

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Kansas City Chiefs free agent target Ryan Fitzpatrick

The time has come. The Patrick Mahomes era is officially underway. Fans have been excited since last April, when Mahomes was drafted as the tenth overall pick.

However, Mahomes is the only quarterback on the roster. Tyler Bray is a free agent, and although he may be brought back, the Chiefs need to find a guy who can be a capable backup to Mahomes. Even though Mahomes is the focus, we have seen how important backups have become in recent years. For example, after Aaron Rodgers went down last season, the Packers dropped off significantly in all facets of the game. Also after Carson Wentz tore his ACL, Nick Foles even won Super Bowl MVP and led the Eagles to a win over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Backups should also be guys that are able to play quarterback at the NFL, but also not be a distraction to the team. The best backup quarterbacks are guys who are quiet leaders, who show up every day to do the work they need to do, just like everyone else. Let’s look at some possible backup quarterbacks the Chiefs could bring in.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick has been around for a while, and his been a part of seven different NFL teams. Fitzpatrick has shown success with Buffalo, Houston, and the New York Jets. With Fitzpatrick’s resume and history, it’s evident that he has been able to impact younger quarterbacks. Last year, it was Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay, and there have been other occurrences like Jake Locker in Tennessee and Ryan Mallett in Houston. What helped Fitzpatrick though, is some of these younger quarterbacks became injury prone and it allowed Fitzpatrick to see the field more.

Chiefs Fit: With Fitzpatrick being a veteran at thirty-five years old, this gives the Chiefs someone who has plenty of expertise to add to what Andy Reid already possesses as a quarterback guru. Fitzpatrick has also been pretty reliable when called upon, and his athletic abilities are impressive. He can run well, and his arm is not too bad either. This gives the Chiefs someone who would be all in with what the Chiefs are wanting to do as well.

Drew Stanton

Stanton has been well known for his relief appearances in Arizona. In fact, Stanton has actually played in at least five games in the last four years. He has also done pretty well, when called upon. During the last four seasons, Stanton holds a 9-4 record, with all nine of those wins coming in games in which he was the starter. Like Fitzpatrick, Stanton is also mobile enough to get out of pressure, but his arm is probably his greatest strength.

Chiefs Fit: Once again another veteran, who has been around the NFL for over a decade. With plus arm strength, he could possibly be a big help to someone who has a cannon like Mahomes. Unfortunately, Stanton has suffered some injuries, but nothing too major. His winning record also speaks for itself, especially when some other of his teammates were banged up.

Chase Daniel

Is a second stint in Kansas City possible for Chase Daniel? When Andy Reid first came to Kansas City, Daniel was who he chose to be the backup as Alex Smith began his career in a Chiefs uniform. Daniel had two impressive performances in Week 17 of 2013 and Week 17 of 2014. In both games against the Chargers, Daniel was a combined 37/57 for 357 yards and one touchdown. That 2014 win also kept the Chargers from making the playoffs.

Chiefs Fit: Obviously with Andy Reid, there is already a relationship there between him and Daniel. Daniel has also been around some pretty good quarterbacks in his career. Alex Smith, Drew Brees, and Carson Wentz in his rookie season, were all teammates of Daniel. And again, Daniel is like the other two aforementioned quarterbacks, as far as ability goes. Daniel is mobile enough, and his arm is good enough for the NFL level.

Light Foundation and Boston Bruins Alumni Once Again Provide the Ultimate Win-Win

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Sports are often the catalyst for a wide range of emotions. Excitement, anger, disappointment, and awe are often some of the feelings that can arise throughout the course of a given sporting event. However, there is one emotion that is sometimes forgotten. At least, it can be by those that find themselves on the side of defeat. On Saturday, that oft-neglected emotion was certainly not lost on anyone in attendance on the campus of Providence College.

That emotion was gratitude.

For the fifth time in as many years, The Light Foundation teamed up with The Boston Bruins Alumni for their annual Charity Hockey Game at Providence College’s Schneider Arena in Providence, Rhode Island. Almost seamlessly, these great organizations deliver an entertaining and heartwarming family event, while providing the opportunity to see Boston Bruins legends skate with some of the best local Rhode Island hockey players.

Matt Light addresses the crowd at Schneider Arena, Providence College, March 23, 2019 (photo by: Mike D’Abate, Full Press Coverage)


Simply put, it was an amazing night. Patriots Hall of Famer and 3-time Super Bowl Champion Matt Light, in conjunction with event organizer Bobby Loffredo worked with the Bruins Alumni to provide a memorable event. In doing so, they unquestionably earned the gratitude of all those in attendance, as well as the southern New England Community.

Remembering a ‘Charming’ Friend

In one of the more touching moments of the night, Light began the event by paying tribute to a courageous young man, who touched the lives of everyone he met, including Light himself.

The former Patriots’ great had met 12 year-old Ian Alexander Novacek just one year prior. As a guest at 2018’s Light Foundation and Bruins Alumni Charity Game, Ian made quite the impression on all those in attendance. Despite suffering from numerous health challenges (including surgeries, lack of mobility and chronic pain associated with achondroplasia, a genetic disorder resulting in dwarfism and future health complications) the young man never complained and radiated a positive energy that was happily infectious.

Ian Alexander Novacek with Matt Light (photo by Mike D’Abate, Full Press Coverage)

While Ian tragically passed away on August 6, 2018, his legacy will continue to live forever. In a heartwarming video tribute, all in attendance were reminded to “always be kind, and give out compliments.” That was Ian’s legacy. It was a poignant, and well-deserved honor on what would have been his thirteenth birthday.

The Action

The Boston Bruins Alumni team featured some of the greatest to ever sport the black and gold. To properly kick-off the event, Boston Bruins legend ‘Chief’ Johnny Bucyk participated in the honorary puck drop at center ice.  Bruins Legends Ray Bourque, Joey Mullen, Tommy Songin and Bruins Alumni President Rick ‘Nifty’ Middleton still proved that talent is an ageless quality. Former Patriots’ linebacker Matt Chatham skated with the Bruins Alumni, and Patriots Hall of Famer Troy Brown served as an honorary coach. All in all, the Bruins Alumni looked as comfortable as ever on the ice at Schneider Arena.  

Bruins Alumni Ray Bourque and Rick Middleton vie for the puck drop by follow Bruins’ legend Johnny Bucyk (Photo by: Mike D’Abate, Full Press Coverage)

Meanwhile, the Light Foundation Whalers demonstrated some pretty impressive skating of their own. The Light Foundation, led by team captain Loffredo (as well as Greg Ventura, Jeremiah Carey, Ed Brady, Brad Accetturo and many others) held their own with the Bruins Legends for much of the game. The Whalers would eventually skate to a 9-7 victory. However, in this event, everyone was a winner.

Let Us Entertain You

While the game action was stellar, the event truly did not disappoint when it came to entertainment. Music students from North Providence, Rhode Island’s School of ROCK displayed impressive musical talent both before and during the game. The musical troupe belted out such great hits as Jimi Hendrix’ Purple Haze and Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child O’ Mine to the delight of those in attendance.

Light, ever the capable master of ceremonies, conducted a halftime auction to help increase the proceeds that were raised for charity. Among the items up for bid were the game-worn jerseys of Ray Bourque and Rick Middleton, a signed jersey from Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, and a custom-made Bruins jersey, bearing the name and number of a certain New England Patriots quarterback. The two-of-a-kind Brady-Bruins jersey (the other having been made for Tom’s son) will be personally autographed by Brady himself to the winning bidder.

Defining the term ‘Win-Win’

If happiness truly defines success, then one may look no further than the Light Foundation Bruins Alumni Charity Game for validation. According to initial estimates, the event is sure to have reached and surpassed its fundraising goals. However, in addition to the funds, it has also raised the spirits of those in need, as well as those in a position to give. The smiles on everyone’s faces told the story. From the Bruins Alumni to the Light Foundation, to the fans in the Schneider Arena stands, everyone was a winner. Wishes were granted and dreams came true. That is the ultimate win-win.

On behalf of everyone who participated or attended, we say ‘thank you.’

 


–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the NFL and NHL. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC

30 in 30: Chicago Cubs

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The Cubs followed their disappointing Wild Card exit in 2018 with the most eventful uneventful offseason of all time. Despite the fact that their Opening Day Roster will likely have at least 23 guys from last year, the eyes of the media found their way to Clark and Addison more than any of the Cubs would have liked.

First, team president Theo Epstein decided to tender a contract to controversial shortstop Addison Russell, who is currently serving a suspension under the domestic violence policy. Then came the release of racist emails from Joe Ricketts, the father of the owners of the team. Then came Tom Ricketts, despite Epstein’s pleas to improve the offense, claiming poverty instead of adding more bats.

They did add Daniel Descalso, formerly of the rival Cardinals, on a three-year deal. However, he is the only player the Cubs added to a roster which had the second most games of zero or one runs in 2018. While Descalso is a solid major league hitter, he is far from the high impact guy the Cubs seemed to need last year.

Chicago actually scored more runs in 2018 than in 2017, but it wasn’t enough for hitting coach Chili Davis to retain his job. Davis couldn’t resist calling some of the Cubs’ star players out after he was let go, but the underlying point is that the Cubs offense clearly broke at the end of last year.

Kris Bryant missed a lot of time last year with a shoulder injury, but he doesn’t seem to have any sign of injury after raking in Spring Training. Bryant was off to an MVP-caliber start in 2018 before being hit in the head against the Rockies. Should he stay healthy, you can count on this offense being a lot better in 2019.

Contrarily, Anthony Rizzo started off the season looking like a minor leaguer and then finished like an MVP. Rizzo’s dealt with his fair share of back injuries the past couple years, so while you can’t necessarily count on him for a full 162, it’s fair to assume Rizzo is going to give you a lot of all-star caliber games every year. I’m not going to go so far as to say he’s going to continue his hot second half, in which he put up a 157 wRC+, the whole season, but it wouldn’t shock me at all if Rizzo gets MVP votes come next November.

It seems like Kyle Schwarber is at the butt of many jokes, and I’m not exactly clear why. Schwarber was a 3.2 fWAR player last year, in large part due to being one of the best defensive left fielders in baseball. While he only commanded a 115 wRC+, Schwarber is still going to be a mainstay in the Cubs lineup. I expect Schwarber to take a big leap again under Anthony Iopace, and he is going to be an all-star level player in Chicago this year. Schwarber was, statistically, one of the least clutch players ever in 2018, something which is almost guaranteed to revert in 2019.

New hitting coach Anthony Iopace worked with the likes of Bryant, Schwarber, Ian Happ, and Willson Contreras with the Cubs as a minor league hitting coach previously, so there shouldn’t be the relationship issues that Davis claimed existed. However, Iopace better be able to fix a unit which clearly needs it if the Cubs want to make their fifth straight playoffs.

As for the pitching, there isn’t a ton that needs fixing. More than anything, they need to get healthy.

Brandon Morrow, their big-time bullpen signing of last year, isn’t going to be ready for Opening Day after suffering yet another injury. Pedro Strop, who was hurt for the stretch run in 2018, suffered another hamstring injury which could leave him off the Opening Day roster. The Cubs didn’t add to the bullpen, with the exception of former A’s starter Kendall Graveman, who is on the 60-day Injured List while recovering from Tommy John.

Steve Cishek, who threw seemingly every day last year, will be tasked with holding down the fort on an otherwise extremely volatile bullpen to start the year. Cishek was good last year, but he isn’t closer quality, so one of Strop or Morrow has to get back to form really quickly.

After the Tyler Chatwood experiment failed last year, the Cubs traded for Cole Hamels from the Rangers. Hamels was nothing short of spectacular with the Cubs, good enough for them to pick up his $20 million option. He will pitch as large part of what is probably the best starting rotation in baseball.

Both Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks have been Cy Young candidates each of the past three years. Yu Darvish claims that, after an injury-marred season last year, this is the best his pitches have ever been. Jose Quintana has been working on the change-up which saw him as a Cy Young contender on the South Side, a pitch which he pretty much abandoned prior to that.

Mike Montgomery, one of baseball’s all-time trivia answers, saw a lot of starts last year in Darvish’s place. However, in a projected bullpen with only one lefty, it’s likely to be Chatwood that takes the place of either the sixth starter or the swingman this year.

Chatwood has had better command this spring, and the Cubs are hoping he can be a lockdown reliever for them this season. It’s unlikely he starts the year getting high-leverage opportunities, he’s going to have to be quick to adjust to a changing role throughout the season.

New pitching coach Tommy Hottovy comes from the game analysis department, where he worked with the pitchers and catchers to develop gameplans. That level of familiarity will, hopefully, translate to better continuity between him and the pitchers, all of whom return from last year.

This Cubs team is pretty much a carbon copy of their 95-win team last year. However, the rest of the league has gotten better, and they’ve failed to fill in the gaps that need improvement. I can’t see them winning 95 again, but I’m also not sure they have to. As it stands right now, I think the Cubs have the highest ceiling in the National League. There’s a pretty good shot everything comes crashing down.

Record Prediction: 89-73

Team MVP: Kris Bryant

AAF Week 7 Preview: Sunday Games

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MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 08: Montreal Alouettes Quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) passes the ball at warm-up before the Calgary Stampeders versus the Montreal Alouettes game on October 8, 2018, at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Not only was the action on the field in the AAF great last week, but some interesting news broke off of the field. Johnny Manziel, the former Heisman winner at Texas A&M signed a contract to join the AAF. He was picked up by the Memphis Express, who had first waiver priority due to their league-worst 1-5 record. His presence automatically makes the Express a more interesting team to watch and he could get his first chance to play on Sunday against Birmingham. The West also has a good battle brewing on Sunday afternoon. The Hotshots and Fleet are currently tied for second in the division and the winner will gain a large advantage over the loser. This weekend has some major storylines to follow in the AAF and these two games should be filled with them.

San Diego Fleet (3-3) at Arizona Hotshots (3-3)

These two teams may be the tightest teams in the standings in the entire Alliance. They have the same record, but also their point differential is only separated by 11 points. This matchup should be one of the closest of the year and one of the most important as well. The winner can take sole possession of second place in the West and depending on how San Antonio fares on Saturday, could take over first. The Hotshots were able to bounce back from three straight losses with a big win over Orlando. The Apollos looked unstoppable heading into last week. However, Arizona was in desperation mode as we enter the later part of the season. They were able to clinch a crucial victory.

The Fleet have only lost two games since Week 1. Both of those losses were only by the margin of a field goal. San Diego could easily have five or six wins at this point in the season despite the quarterback turmoil they have had. I believe they will get a big road win over the Hotshots this week. Arizona was able to win last week, but has still struggled since starting 2-0. I expect the Fleet to get back above .500 this week.

Prediction: Fleet 31 Hotshots 25

Birmingham Iron (4-2) at Memphis Express (1-5)

The Express aren’t going to make the playoffs this year, but they could still be one of the more fun teams to watch in the last month of the season. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was placed on injured reserve after getting hurt in last week’s game against Salt Lake. Manziel’s time may not come this week, but it will come soon. The Express and the AAF need to grow fan support and Manziel will bring publicity immediately. Memphis is no threat to win this year, but they will be the most popular team in the league next year if Johnny Football is still on the roster.

As for this game, the Iron will win. They shutout the Express earlier in the season and are clearly a much better football team. Fiver wins for Birmingham should put them in a good situation to make a run at the playoffs. If Orlando falters down the stretch, the Iron could even make a run at the East division title.

Prediction: Iron 22 Express 11

AAF Week 7 Preview: Saturday Games

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SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 09: Aaron Green #22 of the San Antonio Commanders carries a San Antonio Commanders flag as he runs onto the field prior to an Alliance of American Football game against the San Diego Fleet at the Alamodome on February 09, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/AAF/Getty Images)

What a week in the AAF. The sixth weekend with Alliance football was one for the ages, on and off the field. The Apollos lost their first game in shocking fashion at home against the Hotshots. Arizona saved their season with that win, getting them back to just one game back in the West. Orlando’s loss allowed Birmingham to creep back within one game of the lead in the East. The stretch run is getting hot at the top of the standings and that will continue in Week 7. Two divisional matchups kick off the week on Saturday, including a rematch in the East between two teams looking to bounce back.

Orlando Apollos (5-1) at Atlanta Legends (2-4)

Both of these teams looked like they could be playoff teams after Week 5. The Apollos, obviously, are most likely going to be in the playoffs despite their first loss. However, the Legends lost their fourth game of the season. They had won two games in a row going into last week, but were blown out at home by San Antonio. The Legends aren’t out of the playoff race completely, but it doesn’t look good. They will have to pull of the upset against Orlando this week if they want to stay in the race.

These teams faced off on opening night of the AAF back in early February and the Apollos won 40-6. This is still the largest margin of victory in AAF history. The second largest loss is also held by the Legends from their game last week when they lost 37-6. The Apollos may not win by 34 this time, but they will still win. Atlanta is better at home, but as we saw last week, good teams will still beat them. Orlando is a very good team and will clinch a winning season on Saturday.

Prediction: Apollos 27 Legends 16

Salt Lake Stallions (2-4) at San Antonio Commanders (4-2)

The Commanders have won three straight and are emerging as title contenders from the West. They currently hold a one game lead over the Hotshots and Fleet in the division with Salt Lake sitting two games back. This game could even out that division and give every team a chance to win out West at the end of the season. However, it won’t be that easy for the Stallions to knock off the Commanders. Salt Lake was 1-4 before beating up on the Memphis Express, who are currently in the basement of the AAF. The Stallions will have to play a lot better on the road to beat the Commanders.

San Antonio had one bad game against San Diego a few weeks ago. Outside of that, they’ve been one of the more dominant teams in the Alliance. Their only other loss was to Orlando in a shootout. The Commanders have a good chance to take control of the West at home and I expect them to take it. The Stallions haven’t been a great team this year and San Antonio should dominate at home.

Prediction: Commanders 34 Stallions 12

 

Red Wings Sign Jimmy Howard to an Extension

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COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 3: Goaltender Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings defends the net against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 3, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jimmy Howard

The Detroit Red Wings signed their 35-year-old netminder Jimmy Howard to a one-year contract extension for $4.25 million on Wednesday. This came on the heels of a stellar performance by the Syracuse, New York native against his boyhood favorite team, the New York Rangers. Howard made 41 saves in the Red Wings’ 3-2 victory. The Rangers fifth loss in a row.

A majority of the games Howard has played he has kept the Red Wings within striking distance of the lead or in the lead. The lack of defensive talent on the roster has something to do with results. Not Howard. If the younger players on the roster or in Grand Rapids can improve during the latter part of this season or during the offseason, whether it be Dennis Cholowski or Joe Hicketts, the results could look different next season.

Howard was the lone all-star selection for the Detroit Red Wings this season and played in the 500th game of his NHL career. He ranks third in franchise history with 240 wins and fourth in franchise history with 24 shutouts.

Howard said after the game that he doesn’t know how to explain why he plays so well at Madison Square Garden. “I just enjoy playing here.” The netminder has a 10-3-3 record during his career against the Rangers. Howard even wears the number 35 as a tribute to his favorite player growing up, Mike Richter.

The extension comes after a trade deadline where there was speculation that he would be traded to a number of teams. A trade never came to fruition. Holding onto Howard was deemed necessary because they do not have a goaltender that is NHL ready. The closest to being so is Keith Petruzelli, who is only 19 years old.

Backup Jonathan Bernier is signed through the 2020-21 season. At 30 years old, Bernier was brought into Detroit to push Jimmy Howard. The tandem should have the goaltending position for the short-term until names like Petruzelli can improve their game.

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The contract extension comes just six days before Howard’s 35th birthday. Ken Holland, the general manager for the Red Wings, says that he hopes to pay every penny of the $1.1 million in playoff bonuses should the team make the playoffs next season. This would be an improvement given that the team will miss the playoffs for the third straight season.

This can only happen if the team continues to improve and the franchise gets a bit of luck in the upcoming draft. A draft in which they have among the best odds to pick number one overall. The top pick in this years’ draft is expected to be Jack Hughes, a 17-year-old center for the USNTDP (United States National Team Development Program).

If Howard were exposed to truth serum, Howard might tell you that he is secretly hoping the lottery balls bounce the Red Wings way on April 28th.

FPC Titans Roundtable: Who’s the Pick at #19?

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CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 17: Iowa Hawkeyes tight end T.J. Hockenson (38) gets ready to score during a Big Ten Conference football game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Illinois Fighting Illini on November 17, 2018, at Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL. (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Tennessee Titans were able to fill some key holes on their roster in free agency. However, there are still some places that the team needs to improve on through the draft. After losing Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan, the team brought in Cameron Wake to rush the passer, but they need more at the position. Last year’s second round pick Harold Landry needs a running mate at outside linebacker. The team could also use another weapon for quarterback Marcus Mariota, despite adding slot receiver Adam Humphries in free agency. The team could also elect to add someone up front to pair with star Jurrell Casey. There are a lot of ways the team could go, here is who the FPC Titans staff thinks will be a Titan in late April.

TE T.J. Hockensen, Iowa

Matt Duckworth

With the 19th pick in this years draft, the Tennessee Titans should select TJ Hockensen, the tight end from Iowa. This move makes perfect sense for the young Titans.

Last season, the Titans lost Delanie Walker late in the first game of the season to a gruesome leg injury. That left a real hole in the offense that was hard to fill. The team often struggled moving the chains on third and medium distances.  Walker has been as reliable of a go-to option as any tight end in the league. While age, attrition, and injuries will likely limit Walker’s statistical impact his importance goes without stating.  Which leads me to the drafting of Hockensen. Why Hockensen and not one of the other tight ends like Noah Fant? Simple.  Both Fant and Hockensen are athletic freaks, but Hockensen has a distinct advantage over Fant in the blocking game. This will likely lead to him seeing the field early and often for the Titans.  

Experience and mentorship go a long way in a young tight end’s development.  There aren’t many better tight end mentors than Walker. Hockensen will immediately help with pass protection for Marcus Mariota.  Mariota can also utilize Hockensen’s elite athleticism and play making ability in play action and when he has to improvise in the pocket. Ultimately, Hockensen makes a ton of sense for the Titans because he is an every down tight end that can make an immediate impact this season.  Hockensen would make a great heir apparent as Walker’s playing career is nearing an end.

WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

Trevor Woodworth

The draft for the Titans this year is much different from previous years. In prior years, there have been multiple glaring needs that management had failed to address? This year? Well, we have a relatively young defense that has performed very well, we have our franchise quarterback, we have a solid running back. There are far fewer holes to fill than before. However, there are issues on the offensive line that need to be addressed. I don’t think that #19 is the spot to address them though.
At pick 19, I think it’s time to go all in with Marcus Mariota. Go after Marquise Brown out of Oklahoma and solidify the receiving core. We need better deep threats to keep defenses honest. Tennessee ranked near the bottom in deep throws last season, adding Marquise Brown would change that instantly, opening up more space for Corey Davis and giving Derrick Henry more room. Adding a player like Brown shows you’re doing everything in your power to help Mariota, which is what this franchise needs to do. If the Titans manage to snag Marquise Brown as the 19th pick of the NFL Draft, it opens up the rest of the draft to address a couple of other needs, such as offensive lineman and edge rushers.

EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State

Jake Lyman

Although getting Marcus Mariota another weapon should be near the top of the Titans’ list of priorities, pass-rusher is the most pressing need. Burns may not make it to the 19th pick, but if he does, Tennessee should jump on it. Obviously, General Manager Jon Robinson should be taking the best player available, but if one of the elite EDGE prospects is there, he needs to take him. Burns would be the perfect addition to the Titans’ defense. The secondary and linebacking corps are loaded, but the Titans main problem has been getting pressure on opposing passers. With Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson, and now Nick Foles in the AFC South, Tennessee needs to prioritize rushing the passer.

Burns would be a great complement to Landry at outside linebacker. Replacing aging Orakpo and Morgan with Landry and Burns, with Wake coming in as a situational pass-rusher would be a major upgrade for Tennessee. Wide receiver is a deep position in this draft and the Titans could find one in the second round. Pass rusher is a thin position for the Titans and must be the top priority in the draft. Burns is the prospect I am hoping will fall to 19 for Tennessee.

Fantasy and Reality Sports, Do They Overlap?

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In the normal scheme of things, something described as fantasy has no bearing on reality at all. Fantasy in literature and popular culture, like Star Wars or Game of Thrones, could never be real. A romantic fantasy rarely, if ever, comes true. But when it comes to fantasy sport, the crossover with real-life sport is immense.

While it’s true that everyone who follows sport doesn’t get involved in fantasy sports, we can say with some certainty that just about everyone who tracks fantasy sport does follow real-life sport.

The reason is crystal clear: fantasy sport involves requiring even rudimentary knowledge of real-world sports stars and teams. To understand more, let’s study what fantasy sport is, and look where followers crossover with the real sports world.

What is fantasy sports?

Often referred to as daily fantasy sports (DFS), the hobby involves taking a day’s or weekend’s fixtures and picking a team of individual players from any of the sides taking part. This might mean making up a fantasy NFL team or selecting picks of golfers in a major, or players in basketball or soccer.

You then get points when your player does something significant in his team’s real-life fixture. You add all your points up when the fixtures, or event, is over, and your score is compared to other fantasy sports players. If you have the most points, you win! For a more in-depth look at what DFS is, take a look at this DFS explainer article from TechCrunch.

Why DFS is inextricably linked to real sport

So, we’ve seen that DFS is a relatively straightforward concept. But while it’s true to say anyone can give it a go without watching or understanding real sport, they are in the minority.

For example, if you had no knowledge of NFL whatsoever, you could still put together a fantasy team based on the ‘price’ of the players in the pool (in DFS you have a set budget to spend). Some people might simply pick players because they like the sound of their names. In the same way that you can win a horse race by picking a name from a hat, you could rack up big DFS scores with random player picks. 

But, let’s face it, that’s hardly ever going to happen.

The truth is, in order to pick a successful DFS team, you need to have watched a lot of sport, know the players, understand the advantage of home and away fixtures, and know which player your selection is likely to be matched up against on the field of play. All these things can affect teams and individual performances.

Once you’re armed with this sort of knowledge, you’ll be much better at DFS selections. You need a solid strategy, too, with some saying there’s a science to it. A report in Science Daily confirmed there’s a real skill rather than luck in fantasy sport.

A way to widen your sporting view