KANSAS CITY, Mo.— The wait is almost over. In just a few days, Kansas City Chiefs football will officially be back.
It’s been a long wait for Chiefs fans all over as they look to get the sour taste out of their mouth from the 2nd half of the AFC Championship, another reason the 2022 NFL season couldn’t come fast enough.
But a lot has changed since then. The Chiefs are fielding a much different roster than the one that played in that game, with a plethora of new faces on both sides of the ball.
And for the first time — in what has been arguably the most anticipated season in franchise history — fans will finally get to see the new-look roster in action.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the Chiefs’ week one matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
Patrick Mahomes. Kyler Murray. That says enough right there. Two of the most electric quarterbacks in the NFL with otherworldly improvisational skills.
Although, we know Mahomes is much more proven and viewed by many as one of, if not the best quarterback in the NFL, there are still questions about Murray and his consistency. He will also be without his top target Deandre Hopkins, which leads to the next topic.
This will be very intriguing to watch for both teams. The Cardinals will be without their top two targets as they lost Christian Kirk to free agency and Hopkins due to suspension.
They were able to acquire the speedy Hollywood Brown in a trade and it is likely 2nd-year receiver Rondale Moore will see a major leap in production as he will get more targets.
They also have veteran AJ Green who can still provide some production but without their top receiver, there is a lot of questions about this group.
The Chiefs have a whole new cast of playmakers.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore will all be playing their first game in a Chiefs uniform. They will help look to solve the million-dollar question of the offseason: ‘Will the Chiefs offense take a step back without Tyreek Hill?’
The Chiefs also still have the best tight end in the league in Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman. While the Chiefs’ offense may have questions of their own, it’s hard to bet against anything engineered by Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, especially against a lackluster Cardinals secondary.
This will be the most concerning area for the Chiefs, especially early on with so many new faces and a lot more questions than answers on this side of the ball.
While on paper, the defense is a lot more athletic and youthful and more talented than last season, they did lose their emotional leader in Tyrann Mathieu and the pass-rush is not a sure thing along with the secondary.
The additions of Trent McDuffie and George Karlaftis look promising, but it is imperative that veterans such as Chris Jones, Frank Clark, L’Jarius Sneed and Justin Reid start out fast. The Chiefs have to get pressure on Murray or his ability to extend plays will hurt them all game.
The Cardinals have had a solid defense the past two seasons with Vance Joseph at the helm, but they lost one of the league’s top pass rushers in Chandler Jones and linebacker Jordan Hicks.
J.J. Watt has also struggled to stay healthy. The secondary is also the weakest part of the Cardinal’s defense. That combined with a questionable pass rush could be a recipe for disaster against a pass-happy Chiefs offense.
There should be a lot of offensive fireworks in this game, especially in the first half as both defenses with through a lot of changes in the offseason.
The key for the Chiefs is their ability to pressure Kyler Murray and limit his ability to get out of the pocket. Mahomes and his receivers should have a big day against the Cardinals defense, especially with one of the best offensive lines in the league.
The Cardinals may have a tough time keeping up, especially in the second half.