Sports Illustrated has released its preseason rankings, and the Kansas City Chiefs are debuting at #8 in the NFL.
The Kansas City Chiefs finished the 2016 season with a strong performance that included their first playoff victory since Joe Montana led the team past the Houston Oilers (yes, a team that no longer even exists) in 1994. The Chiefs were definitely a strong team last year, and that is being reflected in the opinions of a lot of pundits, including Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke.
Burke released his 2016 NFL Preseason Rankings, and the Kansas City Chiefs come in at #8 in the league. That is probably a fair ranking based on the results of last year and the offseason the Chiefs had, and it puts them squarely in the mix as contenders for a title.
After shaking off the long-standing shadow of playoff failures, it’s good to see the Chiefs are getting a little respect. This is a good team that has been very competitive in recent years, making the playoffs in two of the three seasons under head coach Andy Reid. The Chiefs also own victories over three of the four teams to have played in the Super Bowl over the past two seasons.
About the Chiefs, Chris Burke stated:
"Last year, Alex Smith’s career-high passing total (3,486 yards) ranked just 20th in the league. He never before has thrown more than 23 TDs in a single season. If he is capable of taking his game to another level, now would be the time to do so. Kansas City has Jamaal Charles back, an elite tight end in Travis Kelce, talent in its receiving corps and an O-line bolstered by Mitchell Schwartz’s arrival. The pieces are in place for this to be a dominant attack."
Clearly Burke is putting a lot of Kansas City’s success squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Alex Smith. That’s not an inaccurate assessment. However, Burke makes no mention of the Chiefs defense, even though that was the strength of the team in 2015. That’s both good and bad.
The good in that assessment is that Burke clearly believes the Chiefs have the offensive talent to not only contend with, but beat most teams in the NFL. It’s been a long time since anyone has thought that about the Kansas City Chiefs.
“The pieces are in place for this to be a dominant attack.” ~ Chris Burke on Chiefs offense
On the other end, not mentioning the defense would seem to indicate Burke doesn’t feel that unit will live up to its past success. That should be a bit concerning because the Chiefs have relied heavily on that unit in recent history. The Chiefs need their defense to continue to perform at a high level if they are to supplant the Broncos as the AFC West kings.
Speaking of the Broncos, they came in at #5 on the list despite their offseason losses. Meanwhile the Raiders come in at #11 and the Chargers at #28. Three teams in the top twelve is a lot, and should be an indicator of just how tough this season could be.
It’s good to see the Kansas City Chiefs are earning some respect from the national media. This team has done a complete turnaround since the arrival of Andy Reid and John Dorsey. This is a real testament to the work they’ve done in reshaping the roster and the mentality of the Chiefs. This team is a legit contender, and expectations should be high for Chiefs Kingdom.