On Wednesday, ESPN published an intriguing In$ider article that created a power ranking of NFL teams for the next three seasons.
Analysts Jeremy Fowler, Louis Riddick, Seth Walder and Field Yates each graded the same five areas for every team. An A+ grade (elite) counted as 100, an A (great) as 90, a B (very good) as 80, a C (average) as 70, a D (very bad) as 60 and an F (disastrous) as 50. Their ratings for each area were then averaged.
Here’s how the Chiefs came out:
Then to create an overall score for every team, the five areas were weighted as follows: non-quarterback roster (30%), quarterback (20%), coaching (20%), drafting (15%) and front office (15%).
The Kansas City Chiefs’ overall score of 88.5 ranked second behind the Buffalo Bills’ 90.4. Rounding out the top five were the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams (tied at 87.7) and the Los Angeles Chargers (86.6). Bringing up the rear were the Detroit Lions (73.0), New York Giants (71.5), Chicago Bears (69.9), Carolina Panthers (69.0) and Atlanta Falcons (68.7).
Then for each team, Yates weighed in on why each was ranked where it was, Riddick discussed its greatest concern, Fowler suggested how it could improve and Walder mentioned some stats to know.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (Overall score: 88.5)
Why they’re here: No team has a better head coach and quarterback combination than Kansas City, as the Chiefs have owned the AFC for four straight years and are primed to stay in the hunt going forward. But it would be oversimplifying things to examine only the greatness of Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, as Kansas City’s roster boasts one of the game’s best offensive lines, a defense with intriguing young pieces and an overall franchise sustainability that comes from top-down commitment. — Yates
Yates refers to “one of the game’s best offensive lines” and a defense with “intriguing young pieces” — but somehow, the group ranks the team’s non-quarterback roster as the league’s 12th-best. So it would appear that Riddick, Fowler and Walder don’t necessarily agree with these parts of Yates’ analysis. But the group seems to be united in their admiration for Mahomes and Reid. ranking them first and fourth.
It’s also interesting that the group ranked Kansas City’s drafts as the league’s best. Since the Chiefs have drafted really well in the last two seasons, there’s likely to be some recency bias built into that. But since Kansas City fans seem determined to debate John Dorsey vs. Brett Veach at every opportunity, it’s fascinating that four national analysts agree the Chiefs are kicking butt on draft days.
Biggest worry: GM Brett Veach made some tough decisions this offseason, letting safety Tyrann Mathieu leave as a free agent and trading dynamic receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins after failing to reach an agreement on a contract extension. The concern going forward is always the same for a team with such high expectations: Are the players the Chiefs brought in, such as receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and safety Justin Reid, the right fit on and off the field for a team that has a combined 38-11 record over the past three seasons? — Riddick
On balance, Riddick’s take is pretty fair. You can never be absolutely sure how new players — whether they are rookies or veterans — will mesh into a roster. And he’s right: new players are replacing several Chiefs (including but not limited to Mathieu and Hill) who played key roles in the team’s back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. Still… the team deserves some credit for continuity. Through nine seasons under Reid, the Chiefs have made the postseason eight times and appeared in 16 playoff games. During that period, only the New England Patriots (18 appearances in eight seasons) have been more consistent.
What could change for the better: The Chiefs appear a few players away on defense. They could use a veteran corner to play alongside L’Jarius Sneed and rookie Trent McDuffie. An additional pass-rusher and middle linebacker could go a long way, too. On offense, the Orlando Brown Jr. situation bears watching after both sides couldn’t agree on a new deal, leaving the offensive tackle to play on the franchise tag in 2022. This complicates matters next offseason when sides renegotiate. — Fowler
Fowler seems to be taking it for granted that first-round rookie McDuffie will be an effective player for Kansas City — but seems to have forgotten about former sixth-round pick Rashad Fenton, who quietly earned PFF’s sixth-best cornerback grade in 2021. And while the team could certainly use more pass-rushing depth, the team’s other first-round draft selection (defensive end George Karlaftis) isn’t mentioned. Fowler properly notes the developing situation with left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. — something that could end up playing out really well (Brown signs the tag and plays at a high level) or really badly (Brown sits out the season).
Stat to know: The Chiefs ranked second in pass block win rate in 2021 at 67.8%. Even though Kansas City is rebuilding at wide receiver, the investment it made in the offensive line last offseason should set up Mahomes with strong pass protection for years to come. — Walder
Walder has picked out a nice stat that highlights the success of Kansas City’s one-season overhaul of the offensive line, which was a remarkable achievement. We’re certainly hoping the team’s 2022 moves work out just as well.