The 2022 NFL season is finally hear. A sentence so good we’ll say it twice. The 2022 NFL season is finally HERE.
Kick-off is only days away so let’s take a look at how the Chiefs’ season might pan out and investigate the best and worst case scenarios.
What happens : Patrick Mahomes reminds everyone why he’s the best player in the game and plays like a fire breathing dragon. The new look Chiefs’ receiving corp gel with #15 seamlessly. Mecole Hardman continues the show the progress hinted at towards the tail end of last season, JuJu Smith-Schuster provides the physical presence in the slot the offence has needed which opens the rest of the field out for the MVS/Skyy Moore/Justin Watson deep threat. Travis Kelce is still, well, Travis Kelce and, behind the best OLine in football, the Chiefs have an undisputed top 3 offence. On the defence the mantra of younger, faster, stronger proves a master stroke as the Chiefs’ D motors through its traditional slow start to finish as a top 10 unit. First-round picks Trent McDuffie and ‘Furious’ George Karlaftis look like NFL starters from day 1, reports of Frank Clark’s demise prove greatly exaggerated and Nick Bolton continues on his flightpath to being the best middle linebacker in the league.
The result : The Chiefs still rule the West and despite splitting with the Chargers they have the division tied up with a weeks to spare. The battle for the #1 goes to wire but a convincing week 6 win over the Bills always has the Chiefs on the front foot. For the 5th year in a row Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs host a home AFCCG.
What happens : Everyone knows the Chiefs face a brutal schedule this year and their division is the dreaded ‘Group of Death’ – there is very little room for slip-ups. Under pressure from day 1 the Chiefs’ defence, already a self admittedly slow starting unit, takes well into the second half of the season to hit their stride this year. Frank Clark is as patchy as feared and, while there is plenty of effort from Karlaftis the step up to the pros is a big one for the rookie. Chris Jones is once again the premier DT not named Aaron Donald but he can’t win games on his own. Spags is forced to revert to the blitz to generate pressure and the Chiefs D becomes predictable.
Stung by the way last season ended Patrick Mahomes comes out with both barrels fully loaded. Discretion is the better part of valor sometimes though and we see him lean too hard on his backstreet playmaking abilities. The high risk/high reward approach has highpoints and the highlight reel fills up quickly but the lows are low and too frequent as smart DCs figure things out. There are already double digit INTs by the time the bye week hits.
The result : The Chiefs are still a roster brimming with offensive talent and, even though the schedule is Andy Reid and Mahomes grind their way to 9 wins and sneak into the wild card slot beating the Raiders out in an OT win in the desert. The euphoria of that is short lived though as a brutal regular season schedule turns into the stuff of play-off nightmares. The Chiefs face the prospect of games away in Baltimore then LA if they are to even think about a Bills playoff rematch in Buffalo. More brutality lies ahead.
What happens : The obvious answer here is QB1 goes down with a significant injury and torpedoes the season early. This is probably true of 90% of teams in the league though so we’ll think a bit harder about this one.
In our doomsday scenario everyone (largely) stays healthy but the 2022 version of the Chiefs are not what they hinted at on the tin. Tyreek Hill was indeed the lynchpin of the offence, Andy Reid’s struggles against 2 high defensive systems rear their heads again and neither MVS nor rookie Skyy Moore can develop an instinctive connection with Mahomes. Father time catches up with Travis Kelce, CEH can’t stay healthy and even when he is he does nothing to convince Chiefs’ fans he’ll ever be ‘the guy’.
The defence isn’t much better as Frank Clark’s legendary playoff performances are nothing but a dot in the rear view mirror and it’s just too much to ask a rookie to carry the pass rush on his own on the other side. Without any pressure up front opposing QBs have all the time in the world to pick the Chiefs’ secondary apart. Desperately lacking experience and crying out for Tyrann Mathieu’s leadership the DB unit is a shambles that give up 100yard receivers game after game.
The result : The Chargers win the division. The Raiders sweep the Chiefs and even the Broncos finally score a win over the Chiefs. The Chiefs are never really in the play-off race and will have to go back to drawing board and take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror. At least Brett Veach has plenty of draft picks to fix this mess. Picking top 10 in a home draft is going to hurt though……