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NFL West Preview: Chiefs Dynasty Not Likely to End Soon

KC has played in five AFC Championship games in the five years Patrick Mahomes has started

Posted on September 3, 2023


  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

How deep is Kansas City?

Tyreek Hill heads to Miami prior to 2022 and gains nearly 2,000 yards receiving—and the Chiefs don’t miss a beat.

KC went 14-3 in the regular season, capping it off with their second Super Bowl championship in the last four years.

And they got five draft picks for Hill.


2022 in Review
The AFC West clearly belonged to the Chiefs in 2022, just as it has every season since 2016 as they took their seventh consecutive division crown.

But the loss of an offensive weapon like Hilll had to slow things down for Patrick Mahomes?

Mahomes

Think again.

Just another ho-hum MVP season in 2022 for Mahomes. He is just that good.

Mahomes has the ability to make a lot of other people look really good no matter who is around him.

Andy Reid is also an innovative offensive mind who gets the most out of not only his star QB but also schemes for others to succeed.


Offense
Offensively, as long as the Chiefs have Mahomes and Reid they are in good shape. As mentioned above, they both make those around them better.

Mahomes is one of the greats, and people and players of that caliber bring other players along with them, and he will need to bring his receivers along with him this season.

Marquez Valdez-Scantling is a proven veteran who had 42 receptions in 2022. The other two starters on the depth chart Skyy Moore (33) and Kadarius Toney (17) had a combined 50 targets in 2022—not receptions, but targets.

Going deeper on the depth chart, Justin Watson had 34 targets in the regular season.

Even looking at the receptions for Valdez-Scantling, he had 42 catches on 81 targets. Mecole Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster combined for 103 catches on 135 targets a completion rate of 76.3%.

The combined total for Moore, Toney, Watson and Valdez-Scantling was 57.8%. Some production will need to be made up on the outside.

But when it comes to pass-catching in this offense, it is really all about Travis Kelce. When Kelce calls it a career, he will be the greatest receiving TE of all time.

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce | Abbie Parr/AP

His seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons are a record for tight ends, and his 33 100-yard games are the most ever at that position.

Kelce already has more receptions and yards than any other player to play TE and is coming off a career-high in receptions with 110 in 2022.

While he shows no sign of slowing down, he will turn 34 this October and tight end is a physical position. Only one TE in NFL history has put together a 1,000-yard receiving season at age 34 or older, and that was back in 1965.

Kelce is no ordinary TE and I don’t foresee his production slowing much this season. But if his age starts to show the passing game would certainly suffer.

For the record, in 2022 Kelce caught 110 of his 152 targets for 72.4%. Mahomes went to him on 25% of his pass attempts.

Isaiah Pacheco was not the last pick in the 2022 draft, but he was pretty close, with only 11 players were selected after him. He stepped in and ran for 830 yards in his rookie season and added another 130 receiving.

That was good enough for him to supplant Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the starting lineup—and don’t expect him to have a sophomore slump.


Defense
On the defensive side of things, the Chiefs are going to be better than a lot of people think.

Chris Jones continues to hold out and was placed on the reserve/did not report list on Tuesday. Not having Jones is obviously a big blow, as he had 15.5 of their 55 sacks in 2022.

But the 55 sacks as a team were the second most in the NFL. George Karlaftis stepped in as a rookie and collected six sacks. He will be a force on the end.

Nick Bolton is a star in the middle and the linebackers around him give the Chiefs a solid unit in the middle of the field with Willie Gay, Leo Chenal, and Drue Tranquill.

Bolton will make a ton of plays in the backfield and in coverage.

Chiefs DE George Karlaftis | Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer

Chenal has a chance to make a huge leap in his second season.

In the secondary, KC got solid rookie seasons from a pair of Apple Cup products, Washington’s Trent McDuffie and Washington State’s Jaylen Watson.

The two of them will continue to get better. Couple them with L’Jarius Sneed and Justin Reid (Another Pac-12 product from Stanford) and you have got a solid secondary.


2023 Outlook
Last season the Chiefs went 10-3 in games decided by a TD or less. Having Mahomes running the two-minute offense late in games is always going to get you some wins in those situations.

But the 10-3 mark was astoundingly good, and much of it can be attributed to finding ways to win close games.

Mahomes has been a starter in the NFL for five seasons and the Chiefs have played in the AFC Championship game in all five seasons.

He is 3-2 in those conference title games with the two losses coming in overtime.

We are looking at an NFL dynasty and it shows no signs of falling apart soon. Last season they reloaded in the middle of things. KC had 61 starts made by rookies, the most for a Super Champion in a season since at least 1991.

Kansas City was able to win a championship while keeping the roster young.

The Chiefs certainly are not going away this season and it looks like they may continue to reign for some time to come.




—More from Stephen Vilardo—