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Analyzing Colts biggest threats in the AFC: Kansas City Chiefs

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The Chiefs looked set to become a dynasty, but a nasty offseason left plenty of doubts in Missouri.

Divisional Round - Indianapolis Colts v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

When the season ended, the Chiefs were feeling pretty good about their chances of winning a Lombardi trophy (or more than one), in the next decade. Fast forward a couple of months, and Kansas City is entering training camp with more doubts than answers. After a rocky offseason, the Chiefs lost plenty of talent and starters, but with MVP quarterback Pat Mahomes on a rookie deal, they are still a dangerous threat on the AFC.

Strengths

AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The Chiefs biggest strength is by far Patrick Mahomes. The gunslinger out of Texas Tech emerged as an elite NFL quarterback in just his first full season in the NFL, earning MVP honors and posting one of the best seasons by a QB in recent memory. He threw for 50 touchdowns, with just 12 picks, and 5097 yards. The Chiefs offense was built perfectly around him, with vertical threats Travis Kelce and speedster Tyreek Hill, and with Kareem Hunt at running back. Kansas City boasted a top 2 offense in the NFL, consisting mostly of players entering the prime of their careers. Now, only Mahomes and Kelce remain (with Tyreek Hill’s status on doubt, more on that later). The Chiefs offense is still explosive and can go toe-to-toe with any defense. Mahomes is an astounding talent, Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the NFL and they drafted speedy WR Mecole Hardman out of Georgia.

Andy Reid is a fine coach, even though he has a reputation for crumbling in the playoffs (Colts’ fans still remember that 28 point comeback). Reid has to be given credit for shaping Mahomes into the player he is today, however, and Reid-led offenses are consistently among the best in the league.

It might not be as important or flashy as the fireworks the offense produces, but the Chiefs special teams unit is probably the best in the NFL. Kicker Harrison Butker is automatic on field goals below 50 yards (22/23), punter Dustin Colquitt, even though the Chiefs offense is so effective they rarely punt, is solid, and Tyreek Hill, if he returns, is the most dangerous return man in the NFL. If Hill misses time (or is released), Mecole Hardman should handle return duties as capably as Hill.

Overall, this team will go as far as Mahomes carries them. Defensive coordinators will now have a full year of film to study on him, so a regression could be coming. If this happens, Kansas City’s Super Bowl dreams could come crashing down.

Weaknesses

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

What an offseason it was for Kansas City. The Chiefs lost star running back Kareem Hunt, due to domestic violence issues (even though this was midseason, Mahomes played considerably worse after his departure). They lost starting center Mitch Morse, along with receiver Chris Conley on offense, and on defense the Chiefs suffered a number of casualties. Even though they racked up 52 sacks last season, leading the NFL, the Chiefs lost 22 of those in the form of Dee Ford (13) and Justin Houston (9). Adding Frank Clark certainly helps, but the price they paid for him was much too steep, and he comes with certain baggage of his own. KC also lost longtime franchise player Eric Berry, who was the leader of the Chiefs’ defense for the past decade, and #1 corner Steven Nelson, who enjoyed a breakout season. To top it all off, star receiver Tyreek Hill was suspended from team activities indefinitely after a horrible audio recording was released, in which Hill’s fiance can be heard suggesting he not only broke his 3-year-old’s arm, but also also threatened her.

Now, the offense does not have the supporting cast around Mahomes it had last season, the offensive line lost its center, and the defense was dismantled. Some players were added, but not enough to cover the holes. The Chiefs’ defense was among the worst in the NFL in nearly all categories except for sacks, and losing 4 starters does not help make things better. While the rest of their division got considerably better in the offseason, the Chiefs got worse.

Mahomes will be required to put up 40 points per game somehow in order to keep Kansas City in games, and without the star power he had next to him last season, there has to be some uncertainty on whether he can replicate his historic season.

How they match up with the Colts

Divisional Round - Indianapolis Colts v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Chiefs met with the Colts in the Divisional Round last season, with Kansas City dominating Indy in the snow en route to a 31-13 win. The game was extremely frustrating to the Colts, as they fell behind early and inexplicably abandoned the run, which was working just fine. Both teams have changed a lot since that game. In fact, Justin Houston, who had 2 sacks and a fumble recovery for the Chiefs in that game, is now on the Colts, and Indy did a wonderful job at adding athletes on defense that can keep up with the explosive offenses that are being built in the AFC.

It will be interesting to see what sort of team KC grows into with all these new faces, but so far, it looks like once again their offense will have to carry them, and without the elite weapons Mahomes had last season, it will not be an easy task. The Colts defense will hopefully be vastly improved, and able to at least slow down KC’s offense. If the Colts’ running game gets going early, which would allow their defense enough rest, then the Colts would be in a nice position to win the game. I’m not as high on the Chiefs as others, considering their horrible offseason, but they are still a threat to be considered in the AFC.