The Kansas City Chiefs enter the 2023 season as the reigning Super Bowl Champions and will be looking to confirm their dynasty status by going back-to-back and winning their third title in five years.
Andy Reid is considered one of the best coaches in the league; many think that Patrick Mahomes will become the greatest quarterback of all time; Travis Kelce might be the best tight end of all time. The question is, who can stop them?
Significant Roster Changes
The presence of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce means that the Chiefs will always be considered an offensive powerhouse. There are, however, questions to be had in other areas of the offense. We are now two years removed from the departure of Tyreek Hill, and despite not noticing his absence last year, the Chiefs’ wide receiver room became even thinner this year after JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman walked out the door.
Coming in to replace them and help the Chiefs win their next Super Bowl is… Richie James. Last year, James had 569 yards and 4 touchdowns in what was a breakout year for him. Yes, Mahomes is Superman, but there will be questions about whether this is enough support for him.
The offense also lost both of their tackles this offseason. Coming in at right tackle is ex-Jaguar Jawaan Taylor, who has never missed a game in his career. He signed a four-year, $80m contract that locks him in as Mahomes’ protector for the next few years. The replacement at left tackle will be Donovan Smith, who has signed a one-year contract after spending the last 8 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The defensive side of the ball has received some help as well. Charles Omenihu was PFF’s top-rated edge rusher in this year’s free agency class, and will now be a Chief for the next two years. They also bolstered the linebacker room with the signing of Dru Tranquill on a one-year deal.
2023 NFL Draft
Edge rush was the priority for the Chiefs in the 2023 draft, opting to sign Felix Anudike-Uzomah with the final pick in the first round. Anudike-Uzomah was named as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in his final season at Kansas State. As a Kansas City native, he has grown up as a Chiefs fan and will now be tasked with filling the boots of Frank Clark, who left in the offseason.
Anudike-Uzomah won’t be the only rookie working from the edge, as the Chiefs also added BJ Thompson, in the fifth round. Despite his lighter frame, he garnered a 92.7 pass-rush grade from PFF, which was the second-best in the draft class.
Round 2 of the 2023 NFL draft brought some help for Patrick Mahomes, with Rashee Rice being selected as the 55th pick. He fills another need on the roster for the Chiefs after Smith-Schuster and Hardman walked in free agency. In a shallow receiver room, there will be opportunities for Rice to make an immediate impact.
Help on the offensive line came in the form of Wanya Morris in round 3. The former five-star recruit was great value in the third round and could be a solid backup on both sides of the line.
Adding to the secondary is always important and, despite taking several defensive backs last year, the Chiefs followed up with two more in 2023. Chamarri Conner came in at safety in round 4, before cornerback Nic Jones was taken in the final round.
2023-2024 Kansas City Chiefs Key Matchups and Dates
Buffalo Bills – 10th Dec, 4.25pm ET
The Bills make for a familiar opposition, with the two sides having met in the playoffs in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The latter was the scene of the famous 13-second drive, which broke the hearts of the Bills fans and left everyone else in shock.
The two sides met again in the 2022 season, in a game where the Buffalo Bills were able to enact some revenge, defeating the Chiefs 24 to 20. With both sides boasting two of the most explosive offenses in the league, this will be a highly anticipated matchup in week 14.
Cincinnati Bengals – 31st Dec, 4.25pm ET
The Chiefs and Bengals have formed a fantastic rivalry over the last few years, facing off in each of the last two AFC Championship games and taking one apiece. Up until the most recent showdown in last year’s playoffs, the Bengals had the Chiefs number, which is something that no other team can claim, defeating them in their three previous matchups.
A penultimate week clash between the two AFC giants will highlight the week 17 slate of games. Both sides will be vying for the number one seed and, with each of the last four matchups being won by just three points, it will be a must-watch.
Los Angeles Chargers – 7th Jan, TBD
The Los Angeles Chargers have not been able to pull it together over the last few years, but they have everything they need on paper. Justin Herbert is freshly paid and one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and he will be leading a dynamic offense that boasts Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
The last time these two sides met in the final week, was during the 2020 season. The Chargers dominated in a 38 to 21 victory over a Chiefs side that had already enjoyed 14 wins and were resting starters. With the Chargers looking like a stronger and healthier side this year, their week 18 clash could come with the division on the line.
2023-2024 Season Forecast
For as long as the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes under center, they will likely be a Super Bowl favorite. Last year, the team responded to criticism of letting Tyreek Hill leave by winning the Super Bowl. This year, they face the same questions, but there is no reason to doubt Mahomes until we see him struggle.
It will be a concern that both tackles are no longer with the team, and fans will be hoping that there is no noticeable downgrade from the replacements. Mahomes is more than capable of avoiding oncoming pressure, but these do make for significant changes to the offense. Thankfully, he still has his trusty tight end, Travis Kelce, to throw to. So far, the league has proven they don’t have an answer for the dangerous duo.
Chris Jones is a veteran who leads a young and exciting defense. The secondary is littered with talented young playmakers, and Nick Bolton took great strides as a linebacker in his sophomore season. On paper, the Chiefs have all they need to run it back.
Record Prediction: 12-5, lose in the AFC Championship Game
I have all the confidence in the world that the Chiefs will continue their domination into the 2023 regular season. The combination of Andy Reid, Mahomes, Kelce and an improving defense will keep the defending champs as the team to beat in the AFC.
I have the Chiefs winning a couple of games less than they did last year, posting a 12-5 record before falling just short in the AFC Championship game.
My concern comes on the offensive side of the ball. Whilst Mahomes has proven time and time again that he is a magician, the lack of any reputable talent in the wide receiver room is a concern. JuJu Smith-Schuster is not the most exciting name, but he contributed a very useful 933 yards last season and was a reliable target to help the Chiefs keep the ball moving.
Travis Kelce will likely take on even more work than he did last year and, whilst I don’t see it being an issue in the regular season, I think it will leave him and Mahomes with just too much to do against whichever other AFC powerhouse faces up against them in the Conference Championship.
The Chiefs went 12-5 in 2021, losing in the AFC Championship game against bitter rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. They managed to get the better of the Bengals in the same game in 2022 though, taking their 14-3 record and converting it into a Super Bowl victory.
The loss of four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown is the headline departure. He will be replaced by Donovan Smith, who will be under a lot of pressure to keep the Chiefs’ future Hall of Fame quarterback on his feet. Jawaan Taylor is the other addition to the offensive line, getting a four-year contract at right tackle. Defensively, the Chiefs have added Dru Tranquill and Charles Omenihu, in addition to first-rounder Felix Anudike-Uzomah.
With a lack of talent and depth in the wide receiver room, Travis Kelce and Isaiah Pacheco will be key players on offense. It will be important that they stay healthy, otherwise, options for Andy Reid and Mahomes to keep the chains moving will be sparse. Defensively, the behemoth Chris Jones, at defensive tackle, and linebacker Nick Bolton form the core of a young and talented defense.
The Chiefs play plenty of high-profile games in the 2023 season. They will find themselves having a rematch of the 2022 Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 11, before having to go up against their biggest AFC rivals, the Bills and the Bengals later in the season. Not to mention their tough AFC West opponents!