Kansas City Chiefs
Head coach: Andy Reid (seventh year)
Last year’s record: 12-4, lost AFC Championship vs. New England Patriots, 37-31
First game: Sept. 8 at Jacksonville Jaguars
Win total: Over/Under 10.5 (Under -135, Over +115)
Super Bowl odds: +750
The Kansas City Chiefs did just about everything right in last season. Led by second-year pro and 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes, the offensive powerhouse topped the AFC West and achieved a 12-4 record, one of the best in the league. The Chiefs were slight favorites over the New England Patriots heading into the AFC Championship but came up just short of a Super Bowl LIII berth.
In 2019 the Chiefs will look to continue their dominance on offense but will need to improve on the other side of the ball. While the Chiefs ranked first in total offense with 425.6 yards per game in 2018, they gave up the second most yards per contest (405.5) on defense and allowed opponents to score an average of 26.3 points.
Who’s in and who’s out
Kansas City made moves in the offseason in the hopes of alleviating its defensive woes. The Chiefs fired defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, replaced him with former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and made several other changes to the defensive coaching staff.
The Chiefs also signed safety Tyrann Mathieu, as well as cornerback Bashaud Breeland and defensive ends Frank Clark, Alex Okafor and Emmanuel Ogbah. They traded away defensive end Dee Ford to the 49ers and released their second- and third-longest tenured players, linebacker Justin Houston and safety Eric Berry.
On offense,the Chiefs added running back Carlos Hyde on a one-year deal and tight end Blake Bell. Hyde and fellow back Damien Williams (256 yards, four touchdowns) will need to make up for the loss of Kareem Hunt (824 rushing yards, seven touchdowns rushing, seven receiving). Kansas City must also fill a significant hole with the departure of Tyreek Hill, who caught 87 passes for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018.
The Chiefs will rely on tight end Travis Kelce (1,336 yards, 10 touchdowns), as well as wide receivers Sammy Watkins (519 yards, three touchdowns) and Demarcus Robinson (288 yards, four touchdowns), to step up in the passing game. Kansas City also drafted speedy wide receiver Mecole Hardman (543 yards, seven touchdowns) of Georgia in the second round (the Chiefs’ first pick in the draft). Hardman was also one of the nation’s top return men last year and could make an impact in that arena as well.
First game of the season, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET, TIAA Bank Field
Kansas City Chiefs (-180) at Jacksonville Jaguars (+150)
Spread: Chiefs -3.5 (-105)
Over/Under: Over 51.5 (-105), Under 51.5 (-105)
New Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles should create positive changes for Jacksonville’s offense, which averaged just 15.3 points per game last season. The Jags also ranked fifth in total defense in 2018 and should be just as talented this season. Kansas City has the firepower to overcome Jacksonville’s second-ranked passing defense, so look for the Chiefs to come away with a win and cover the -3.5 spread.
Over/Under win total: 10.5
Schedule (bold font indicates home game): Jaguars, Raiders, Ravens, Lions, Colts, Texans, Broncos, Packers, Vikings, Titans, Chargers, BYE, Raiders, Patriots, Broncos, Bears, Chargers
The Chiefs will likely split their series with the Chargers and face tough road games against the Patriots and Bears. Throw in a potential loss on the road at the Broncos on a short week, and Kansas City is down to four losses. There shouldn’t be more than that. Take the over.
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