WELCOME BACK:ANDY REID, the gunslinger-friendly version. Before taking over in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Reid was an assistant in Green Bay, where his job, in part, was to keep QB Brett Favre under control. Favre's choices often aged his coaches in dog years, but he made more than enough positive plays to compensate. Reid, after starting ball-protecting Alex Smith (the anti-Favre) for his first five years with the Chiefs, is ready to take a walk on the wild side, placing the passing game in the hands of PATRICK MAHOMES, 22, who thrived with an unstructured attack at Texas Tech.
Expect Reid to still feature presnap motion, misdirection and multioption reads. Those tactics put a defense on its heels by presenting the illusion of complexity, but they can transition into traditional concepts once the ball is snapped. It's a great way to soften a young QB's transition to NFL starter.
Receiver TYREEK HILL might be the fastest player in football, but tight end TRAVIS KELCE is the most valuable nonquarterback on Kansas City's offense. As a receiver he can beat not just safeties and linebackers but also most cornerbacks, and from almost anywhere in the formation.
Last year the Chiefs had the NFL's most-efficient ground game on a per-carry basis. They also averaged 141.2 rushing yards in wins and 81.8 in defeats—a difference that was greater than the NFL average by half. With an offense that includes an inexperienced QB and the defending rushing champ, KAREEM HUNT, Reid would be wise to run the ball more frequently.
No defender is better at setting the edge and then making the stop than JUSTIN HOUSTON. The outside linebacker can also drop into coverage, though you could argue that coordinator BOB SUTTON asks him to do so too often. Last season, according to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs rushed three and dropped eight 21.8% of the time, second only to the Patriots. Houston still had 9½ sacks, but with his talent that number should be in the mid-teens.
2017 RECORD 10W 6L
SI'S 2018 PREDICTION 7W 9L
1st @BRONCOS [Monday]
19th @RAMS [In Mexico City]
13th CHARGERS [Thursday]
In Mexico City
KAREEM HUNT runs with excellent balance and vision, and he proved as a third-round rookie that he can contribute in the passing game as well. Backups SPENCER WARE and especially DAMIEN WILLIAMS are also good receivers out of the backfield.