This week’s Contender or Pretender post will take a look at the Carolina Panthers week 10 opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs. This game will be a good mid-season test. If Carolina wants to win a Super Bowl then it will have to beat the top NFL teams like the Chiefs.
2015 was an interesting year for the Chiefs. After a Week 1 road win in Houston, the team went on a 5 game losing streak. September 25 was the beginning of a ten game win streak. The only thing bigger than this 10 game win streak was the Carolina Panthers and their magnificent season in 2015. With the Broncos quarterback situation in the air in 2016, the Chiefs are stable and looking to build on their success from last season.
The Chiefs did the right thing in resigning the running backs Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, with the injury to Jamaal Charles in 2015 his role in the offense will be scaled back a bit. West and Ware combined for 235 carries, 1,047 yards, and 10 touchdowns on the ground. The Chiefs were 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards per game (138 yards) and 30th in the league with just over 200 yards per game. Jamaal Charles won’t have to be the bell cow back anymore. His touches may drop a bit but his effectiveness should improve and his health will allow him to play the entire season. Alex Smith will be tasked with improving the team’s passing per game average, which was one of the worst in the league at 203 yards. There is lots of room for improvement here. Reid would like to open up the play-action pass and receiver Jeremy Maclin would have a field day if he could get behind defenders. Defenses would be forced to double Maclin and then TE Travis Kelce will eat them up underneath. Getting the ball to his playmakers down the field will be the key to getting this offense to the next level.
The defense was good enough for 3rd in total defense last season. They tagged Eric Berry the long time safety and cancer survivor. The secondary is steady with rookie DPOY Marcus Peters and Berry, prowling the defensive backfield. Pass rusher Tamba Hali and Justin Houston will bring the heat from the end positions while Dontari Poe collapses the middle of the pocket. This defense will look to get better next year and it has the pieces to do it.
I really do like what I see from Kansas City, that is why I have them as a “contender” in 2016.
By That Freak'n Puerto Rican
Follow him @JoeRiollano