KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs rebuilt their offensive line after their Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The biggest question now is whether it will protect quarterback Patrick Mahomes well enough to keep their offense singing.
If they can live up to expectations, and their defense is merely average, the Chiefs could be headed to a third straight Super Bowl in February.
But with a 17-game regular-season schedule, depth could also be a factor at several positions late in the season.
Here’s what Chiefs fans need to know and experts expect going into the new season:
LT Orlando Brown Jr., LG Joe Thuney, C Austin Blythe, DT Jarran Reed, RB Elijah McGuire, CB Mike Hughes, RB Jerrick McKinnon, TE Blake Bell, LB Nick Bolton, C Creed Humphrey, DE Joshua Kaindoh.
LT Eric Fisher, RT Mitchell Schwartz, WR Sammy Watkins, CB Bashaud Breeland, TE Deon Yelder, DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, CB Antonio Hamilton, RB Damien Williams, DT Mike Pennel.
The offense remains the biggest strength of the Chiefs and arguably the most dynamic unit on either side of the ball in the NFL.
Mahomes threw for 4,740 yards with 38 touchdowns and just six interceptions last season, and his three biggest weapons are back: TE Travis Kelce, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire and WR Tyreek Hill.
But the offense should be even better thanks to a completely reworked line. Not only are all five starters new, three players that started for Kansas City in its Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers are now on the second-string unit.
The Chiefs are relying on young CBs L’Jarius Sneed and Charvarius Ward to continue their development, though it helps their cause to have veteran safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill on the field with them.
The Chiefs also need to pressure the quarterback better. They have moved DT Chris Jones to defensive end opposite Frank Clark, and he looked good coming off the edge during the Chiefs’ three preseason wins.
The biggest surprise of camp was that Mathieu did not sign an extension, even though both sides wanted to get it done. That means the three-time All-Pro is entering the final year of a $42 million, three-year deal.
Fantasy Player To Watch
Mahomes, Kelce, Hill — take your pick. Edwards-Helaire is also worth watching, especially if he remains healthy.
But an off-the-radar pick could be RB Jerrick McKinnon, who was brought in to provide depth and played well in the preseason. If Edwards-Helaire gets banged up again, look for McKinnon to provide a big fantasy boost.
Win Super Bowl: 5-1. Over/under wins: 12 1/2.
The Chiefs watched the Buccaneers run roughshod over their offensive line in the Super Bowl, so they quickly dismantled the front five and rebuilt it from the ground up.
LT Orlando Brown Jr. has been a Pro Bowl pick, LG Joe Thuney was the best guard on the free agent market and three first-year players — C Creed Humphry, RG Trey Smith and RT Lucas Niang — have already played beyond their years in preseason action.
If they can continue to develop, and the defense is merely average, they should have their sights set on a third straight trip to the Super Bowl.