Have the Chiefs Done Enough to Warrant a Third Successive Top Ranking?

We are about to commence on Patrick Mahomes’ fourth full season as an NFL quarterback, and for the fourth season running, expectations are sky-high. Even after he made one start in 2017, the hype around the immaculate arm and release of the Texas Tech product was nearly absurdly high. Of course, the now-25-year-old has proven himself worthy of the pre-emptive praise several times over.

Now, with Chiefs Wire reporting that the stud QB has fully recovered from the turf toe injury that hindered his postseason, Kansas City are hailed as the top picks once again. This is, of course, despite the Tampa Bay Buccaneers not only besting them in the Super Bowl, but the Bucs defense expertly stifling Mahomes’ offense. So, have the team done enough to earn their top ranking for the 2021/22 campaign?

Chiefs ranked above all others

Tyreek Hill, Orlando Brown, Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Anthony Hitchens, and Tyrann Mathieu: it’s remarkable that this list alone fits under one cap, let alone with the other top performers. So, with the QB fit and raring to go, it doesn’t come as a surprise that, for the third year running, the Chiefs are the preseason favorites to win the Super Bowl.

As shown in the markets of Space Casino, the Chiefs are narrowly favored ahead of the Bucs at 5/1 to the champions’ 6/1, with the two being a good few lengths ahead of the next top-rated – the Bills at 11/1. More importantly, Mahomes is backed to reclaim the MVP crown at 5/1, with Josh Allen in toe at 10/1 alongside Aaron Rodgers.

As magnificent as Mahomes is, and as perfectly crafted as his fellow offensive weapons are to his skill set, there’s an element that crumbled last season, which ultimately had the Chiefs tumble at the final hurdle.

Will the defenses hold?

The Chiefs didn’t lose the Super Bowl because of Mahomes’ injury, because of a lack of availability from any offensive star, nor did they lose due to defensive failures. Kansas City failed to repeat because the offensive line had crumbled. Losing Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to an opt-out prior to the first kickoff was a significant loss, but then Mitchell Schwartz crumpled in Week 6, as did Eric Fisher due to a torn Achilles deep into the playoffs.

Thus, the Chiefs had to try to keep out the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, and Shaquil Barrett without their three best offensive linemen. This season, Duvernay-Tardiff returns having returned to Canada as a doctor during the pandemic, but the rest of the offensive line has been retooled significantly. First, they traded for Orlando Brown Jr from the Baltimore Ravens, who’s a two-time Pro Bowler as a left and right tackle.

Of course, with Fisher and Schwartz gone, there’s more than one hole to fill – especially as the rest of the cast struggled in the meantime. So, the Chiefs splashed out on free agent Joe Thuney, who has been a top-ten guard in each of the last three seasons, per Pro Football Focus. At center, the front office has lined up a battle between second-round selection Creed Humphrey and the highly-rated former Rams snapper Austin Blythe.

With the offensive line essentially being the only reason why the Chiefs didn’t repeat, it’s fair to say that they’ve done more than enough to improve and earn the ranking of favourite

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