KANSAS CITY, Mo. — ESPN released its post-draft NFL Power Rankings on Monday, and the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs were sitting at the top.
With the Chiefs returning 20 of 22 starters from last year’s championship run, there isn’t much room for debate about whether or not they deserve the top spot in the power rankings.
Every other position seems to be up for grabs though. With that in mind, I took to Twitter and asked who is the biggest threat to the Chiefs repeat?
The Baltimore Ravens
One of the obvious threats to the Chiefs Super Bowl repeat is the team that had the best record in the AFC last year: The Baltimore Ravens.
Chiefs fans are well aware of the damage reining league MVP Lamar Jackson can do in his second full year of starting. The Ravens quarterback has made it clear that he intends to follow in the footsteps of Patrick Mahomes by winning a ring next season.
The Ravens will return most of their important pieces from last year’s team, as well as a big addition on defense in defensive end Calais Cambell. On top of all that, Baltimore got amazing draft grades from several analysts, which could mean they get immediate contributors from this year’s class.
It seems like the only thing standing in Baltimore’s way, is their performance in the post-season, and their struggles against the Chiefs. Jackson is 0-2 against KC, and is 0-2 in the postseason. If the Ravens can’t find a way to solve their two biggest issues, they might take another early exit in January.
The San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are the other obvious threat to a Kansas City repeat.
The 49ers did take some heavy losses in free agency. General Manager John Lynch traded away defensive tackle DeForest Buckner for a first-round pick, released starting right guard Mike Person, starting right tackle Joe Staley retired. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders left for free agency.
But, the team also made some big additions, acquiring Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams and drafting Javon Kinlaw to replace Buckner, all while retaining the rest of last year’s starters.
The Chiefs know first-hand how formidable San Francisco is, and should they meet in the Super Bowl again, I doubt they’d give up a 10-point lead as easily as they did in Miami.
The Niners would have to navigate through a tough NFC to make it to the Super Bowl, and even before that they’d have to navigate through a competitive NFC West Division, and that won’t be easy thanks to another potential contender.
The Seattle Seahawks
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garappolo got a lot of criticism for his performance in the Super Bowl, especially after he overthrew a wide open Sanders down 24-20. Because San Francisco’s offense is centered around running the ball and play action, Garappolo is seen as a quarterback who can’t make big throws when you need it most.
Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, however, is just the opposite.
Even with Seattle’s struggle on the offensive line and in the run game, Wilson was able to nearly lead his team to victory against the NFC Champions twice last season. The Seahawks lost both games by a combined eight points, showing that with a little improvement, they could take San Francisco’s spot as the NFC representative next year.
Wilson has made big throws for the Seahawks often and certainly would be more of a challenge to defend than Garappolo. It’s hard to predict what would happen in strategic battle between Andy Reid and Pete Carroll, but Carroll did walk away with the victory in 2018, which shows that Seattle is capable of dethroning the champs.
The Chiefs have improved a lot on defense since then, and Seattle still has a lot of questions to answer at running back and on the O-line. If they can fill those holes in their roster, I wouldn’t be surprised if they met the Chiefs in Tampa Bay.
The Kansas City Chiefs
As cliche as it may sound, the Chiefs are truly their own worst enemy. The Chiefs will be favored in most if not all of their regular season games this upcoming season, and rightfully so.
On top of bringing back most of their starters, immediate production from some of this year’s draft class plus growth from last year’s rookie class could take the team to an even higher level. With all of that working in their favor, another trip to the Super Bowl is a likely scenario.
The only thing that could stop that from happening are injuries and bad performances in the postseason. A few injuries to key players and some questionable play calling led the Chiefs to play some of their worst football late last season. While they were able to overcome some big deficits in the playoffs, those deficits only came to be because of poor performances in the first half of games. Even a bad three-quarter performance from Mahomes in the Super Bowl almost cost the team the Super Bowl title.
When the Chiefs are at their best they can overcome any deficit and overpower any defense. If the teams wants the best chance at repeating, they have to do everything in their power to stay out of their own way. If they can manage to do that, there might not be anything the rest of the league can do to stop the Chiefs from forming a dynasty.