Feb 4, 2023; Paradise, NV, USA; NFL coach Eli Manning (left) talks with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during practice at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins, NFC top AFC at first-ever ‘Pro Bowl Games’

Kirk Cousins connected with George Kittle on a 12-yard touchdown pass and scrambled away from a blitz to hit Minnesota Vikings teammate Justin Jefferson on the one-point conversion to lift the NFC to a victory over the AFC in the inaugural Pro Bowl Games on Sunday in Las Vegas.

The NFC beat the AFC 27-21 in the final tally, which awarded points for three short flag football games and a host of skills events that ranged from “Best Catch” to “Kick-Tac-Toe.”

The NFC, which trailed 9-3 after Thursday’s slate of skills competitions, tied the score at 21 entering the final flag football game. Cousins threw three touchdown passes, besting Derek Carr’s two for the AFC in likely his last appearance in Las Vegas as a member of the Raiders. The NFC won the decisive game 35-33 after Carr found Dawson Knox for a late touchdown but the AFC failed to convert a two-point attempt.

Eli Manning coached the NFC team and Peyton Manning did the same for the AFC. The brothers’ production company was also responsible for “reimagining” the all-star exhibition that had drawn criticism over the years for its lackluster showings as players did not want to risk injury.

Ironically, the format change — featuring 7-on-7 games that followed standard flag football rules — did not prevent injuries for all. Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett reportedly suffered a dislocated toe during one of the flag contests.

Tyler Huntley — the Baltimore Ravens’ backup quarterback, in the game as a reserve — threw four touchdowns in the first game, two to Baltimore teammate Mark Andrews, but Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks beat that with five touchdowns as the NFC won the first flag game 33-27.

Stefon Diggs, who also lost the “Best Catch” final to Detroit Lions wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown, caught the go-ahead touchdown for the AFC to ultimately win the second flag game 18-13.

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles fans cheer on during the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Full NFL playoff picture: Eagles land bye, Dolphins snag wild card

With all but one Week 18 game complete, 13 of the NFL’s 14 playoff teams were set in stone Sunday evening.

The Philadelphia Eagles finally secured the top seed in the NFC and the Miami Dolphins grabbed the last AFC wild-card berth during the afternoon action.

The only spot left at the table was the No. 7 seed in the NFC. The Seattle Seahawks remained alive for it by defeating the Los Angeles Rams 19-16 in overtime. But the Green Bay Packers have a win-and-in scenario entering “Sunday Night Football” against the visiting Detroit Lions. If the Packers lose, the Seahawks will earn the berth.

The Eagles’ 22-16 victory over the New York Giants halted a two-game slide and brought Philadelphia to 14-3, out of reach of the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, who were also contending for the NFC’s top seed at the start of the day.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills secured the No. 2 seed in the AFC by beating the New England Patriots 35-23. The Cincinnati Bengals locked up the No. 3 seed with a 27-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The Bills and Bengals were playing for the first time since their Monday night game was postponed and eventually canceled after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field.

The day’s results set up the Bengals to face the Ravens in the AFC wild-card round. The NFL has said that due to the scheduling disadvantages caused by Monday’s cancellation in Cincinnati, homefield advantage for Bengals-Ravens will be decided by a coin flip.

The Dolphins beat the New York Jets 11-6 to beat out New England and the Pittsburgh Steelers for the last available AFC berth.

See the full schedule below (times and dates TBD):

No. 7 Miami Dolphins (9-8) at No. 2 Buffalo Bills (13-3)
No. 6 Baltimore Ravens (10-7) vs. No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) at No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)
Bye: No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)

No. 7 Seattle or Green Bay (TBD) at No. 2 San Francisco 49ers (13-4)
No. 6 New York Giants (9-7-1) at No. 3 Minnesota Vikings (13-4)
No. 5 Dallas Cowboys (12-5) at No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)
Bye: No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)

–Field Level Media

The Buffalo Bills gather while CPR is administered to Damar Hamlin at the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2, 2023.

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Bills-Bengals canceled; NFL to consider neutral-site AFC title game

The Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game that was halted Monday when Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin experienced a cardiac arrest on the field will not be resumed or replayed, the NFL announced Thursday night.

As a result, the Bills and Bengals will have their postseason positions determined based on their winning percentage for a 16-game season rather than the 17-game slot played by all other NFL teams.

Due to the resulting disparity, the league recommended changes to playoff ramifications that team owners will consider in a special league meeting Friday. Chiefly, the AFC Championship Game would be played at a neutral site if the home team for that contest ordinarily would have been settled in part by the result of the now-canceled game.

“This has been a very difficult week,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We continue to focus on the recovery of Damar Hamlin and are encouraged by the improvements in his condition as well as the tremendous outpouring of support and care for Damar and his family from across the country. We are also incredibly appreciative of the amazing work of the medical personnel and commend each and every one of them.”

The league noted in its announcement that no teams will make the playoffs or be eliminated from contention based on the Bills-Bengals game being canceled. The NFL also decided against postponing the entire playoff slate just to make up the game in Cincinnati.

By announcing the decision on the fate of the halted game prior to the Week 18 slate that will conclude the regular season on Sunday, the NFL said that all teams now will enter their finales knowing exactly what scenarios are in play.

The AFC title game would be played at a neutral site if any of three possibilities occur:

–If Buffalo (12-3) and Kansas City (13-3) both win or tie this weekend, a Bills-Chiefs championship game would be held at a neutral site.

–If the Bills and Chiefs both lose this weekend and the Baltimore Ravens (10-6) win or tie, a Buffalo-Kansas City championship game would be played at a neutral site.

–If the Bills and Chiefs both lose and Bengals win, Buffalo-Kansas City or Cincinnati-Kansas City AFC title game would be held at a neutral site.

In addition, if the Ravens defeat the Bengals (11-4) on Sunday, giving Baltimore a season sweep of Cincinnati, the teams would end with the same number of wins, but the Bengals would have fewer losses. Should those teams wind up facing off in a wild-card game, the NFL will hold a coin toss to determine the home team.

The site of any other wild-card game involving either of those teams would be determined per standard procedure.

“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive inequities,” Goodell said in a statement. “I recognize that there is no perfect solution. The proposal we are asking the ownership to consider, however, addresses the most significant potential equitable issues created by the difficult, but necessary, decision not to play the game under these extraordinary circumstances.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 27, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) drops back to pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens climbing AFC futures odds board

Futures odds shifts are beginning to spotlight a rising contender in the AFC: the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens jumped to +800 to win the conference at 5-3 following the Cincinnati Bengals’ loss to the Cleveland Browns in an AFC North duel on Monday night that capped Week 8 in the NFL. Cincinnati is 4-4 and the Browns are 3-5.

Baltimore had been +1400 in July to win the AFC at FanDuel and BetMGM.

As of Tuesday morning, odds pointed to the Ravens as a near lock to win the division at -320 at FanDuel, -360 at Caesars Sportsbook and -380 at DraftKings. On Aug. 3, the Ravens were +165 to win the North, narrowly ahead of the Bengals (+210) and Browns (+235).

Lamar Jackson has approached his 2019 MVP form and the Ravens upgraded their defense on Monday with the trade deadline acquisition of inside linebacker Roquan Smith from the Chicago Bears.

Baltimore is still well back of the favorites to win the Super Bowl, at +1600 at most books at +1800 at DraftKings.

That second tier with the Ravens at most sportsbooks includes the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings.

The top tier includes AFC favorite Buffalo, now at +320 to win the Super Bowl ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles (+500) and Kansas City Chiefs (+700) at Caesars.

BetMGM, Caesars and FanDuel all have elevated the projected win total for the Ravens.

Caesars has the Ravens over-under on wins set at 11 (-110) and FanDuel is at 10.5 (-150). BetMGM and DraftKings adjusted the Ravens up to 11 (-115).

Jackson’s MVP odds are steady. At Caesars, he’s +1300 and a distant fourth behind Bills quarterback Josh Allen (+125), Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (+350) and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (+375).

FanDuel has Jackson at +950 behind the same three quarterbacks. He’s +1000 at DraftKings.

–Field Level Media

Feb 6, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; AFC tight end Mark Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens (89) runs with the ball against the NFC during the second quarter during the Pro Bowl football game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

AFC pours on points, beats NFC for fifth straight Pro Bowl win

Justin Herbert threw two touchdown passes, Mac Jones added one more and the AFC held on for a 41-35 win over the NFC in the Pro Bowl on Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas.

Mark Andrews had five catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns to lead the AFC. Hunter Renfrow also had a touchdown catch, and Stefon Diggs notched a rushing touchdown. It marked the AFC’s fifth straight Pro Bowl victory.

Kyler Murray threw three touchdown passes for the NFC, and Kirk Cousins had another touchdown toss. Kyle Juszczyk, Mike Evans, Kyle Pitts and Dalvin Cook each hauled in touchdowns in the loss.

The AFC opened the scoring on a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by Darius Leonard with 12:17 remaining in the first quarter. Leonard, who had four interceptions to go along with a league-high eight forced fumbles this season, stepped in front of a high pass from Murray.

The NFC pulled even at 7-7 on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Juszczyk with 9:57 to go in the first quarter.

Less than a minute later, Andrews grabbed a 15-yard touchdown pass from Herbert to make it 14-7 in favor of the AFC.

The NFC pulled within 14-13 on a pick-six by Antoine Winfield Jr. of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the final play of the first quarter. Winfield faked a pitch and kept the ball for a 63-yard return to the end zone, but a two-point conversion attempt failed moments later.

In the first minute of the second quarter, Myles Garrett had a 22-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. Jones followed that with a successful two-point conversion, finding Diontae Johnson in the end zone to put the AFC on top 22-13.

Murray fired a 19-yard touchdown to Evans with 10:41 left in the second quarter. Murray then connected with CeeDee Lamb for a two-point conversion that pulled the NFC within 22-21.

A 7-yard touchdown pass from Herbert to Andrews, followed by an unsuccessful two-point attempt, gave the AFC a 28-21 lead with 5:01 left in the second quarter.

Next came a 6-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Renfrow — again followed by an unsuccessful two-point attempt — to make it 34-21 with 7:24 to go in the third quarter.

The AFC’s advantage increased to 41-21 on Diggs’ 4-yard run late in the third quarter.

The NFC cut the deficit to 41-28 on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Murray to Pitts with 10:18 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Murray notched his third touchdown pass on a 5-yard strike to Cook with 2:36 left.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs (7) in action during the game between the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Diggs brothers excited to face off in Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl is annually a game in which many players opt out and some participate while disinterested.

In the midst of all the roster turmoil, there are at least two players highly eager to play in the Sunday game between the NFC and AFC at Las Vegas: the Diggs brothers.

NFL interception champion Trevon Diggs of the Dallas Cowboys can’t wait for that moment when he is staring across the line of scrimmage and sees older brother Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills just a couple yards away.

“Probably one of my favorite moments of this year, for real, because that’s my brother,” Trevon Diggs recently told reporters. “I love him to death and just being able to go up there (to the Pro Bowl) with him, that’s fire.”

Trevon Diggs, a 23-year-old cornerback, had a breakout campaign in his second NFL season. With his league-best 11 interceptions, he matched Everson Walls (1981) for the Cowboys’ single-season record, and he returned two for touchdowns.

A big reason for his rapid rise is the offseason workouts he conducted with Stefon. The 28-year-old wideout is in his second straight Pro Bowl after catching 103 passes for 1,225 yards and a career-high 10 touchdowns this season.

On the day of the Pro Bowl selections, Stefon and Trevon were on FaceTime with 15 other family members and close friends. Stefon was pleased to earn another berth, but seeing his brother’s face appear on television as a selection was the highlight of the call.

“I was more happy for him than I was for myself,” Stefon Diggs said. “I was just more proud than anything. … I saw his face, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s my little brother.’”

Stefon Diggs’ usual quarterback, Josh Allen, is one of the many star players who won’t be in Las Vegas. Allen initially was an alternate for the game, but he turned down an invitation last week, citing body soreness.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (ankle) also declined a recent invitation, leading to Mac Jones of the New England Patriots getting the call as the AFC’s third quarterback. Justin Herbert of the Chargers is the AFC’s starting quarterback with Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs in reserve.

The top two candidates for NFL Most Valuable Player aren’t playing for the NFC — Aaron Rodgers (undisclosed injury) of the Green Bay Packers and the now-retired Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The NFC quarterbacks are now-starter Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals and two replacements — Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings.

Packers receiver Davante Adams (undisclosed injury) is among the others who pulled out.

Mike Vrabel of the Tennessee Titans is coach of the AFC and Matt LaFleur of the Packers leads the NFC. The Titans and Packers both tied for the best regular-season record in their conference.

There will be no opening kickoff in this year’s game as the league experiments with the “Spot and Choose” method that the Ravens proposed to the Competition Committee last year.

The team that wins the coin toss will be able to spot the ball on any part of the field and choose the direction. The other team will then choose whether to start on offense or defense from the designated spot.

–Field Level Media

Chiefs' Kareem Hunt happy with whatever role in offense

NFL Week 6 Football Props: Chiefs vs. Patriots

The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots have both been playing exceptional football. Following a rocky 1-2 start, the Patriots have bounced back with 2 commanding victories over the Dolphins and Colts. Aided by Josh Gordon and the return of Julian Edelman, New England seems to have found it’s offensive rhythm they lacked in the first three weeks. They Currently sit atop the AFC East. There were many who considered the Jaguars’ defense to be the only thing that could slow down the dynamics Kansas City offense. The week 5 matchup started with the Chiefs taking a 20-0 lead by halftime, with Blake Bortles having thrown a couple of interceptions. Jacksonville managed to get on the board, but there was never really any hope for a second-half comeback as the Chiefs rolled to a 30-14 victory. Sunday night we’ll get to see the Chiefs head to New England to face their potentially toughest challenge of the season, although they will travel to LA to face the Rams in November. Kansas City defeated New England 42-27 in week 1 of last season. Alternate lines are very popular in Europe and allow the sportsbook provide accelerated lines at better odds. The offering of these alternate lines often come with higher bet commission, but they opportunity for big odds on a two-sided bet can be there every game.

Alternate lines are available at Sugar House Sportsbook if you live in the state of New Jersey.


Comparing Team vs Divisional Wins

It’s no secret that the New England Patriots have pretty much owned the AFC East for the past decade. However, did you know that the rest of the AFC East have averaged fewer than 8 wins in the same time frame? If the goal is to make the playoffs, it certainly helps when the rest of your division tends to produce losing records. The flip side of the AFC East is the AFC North. The Bengals, Steelers, and Ravens have had many strong seasons, often sending two of the three teams to the playoffs (in 2011, all three teams advanced to the playoffs).
The graphic below allows you to choose a division and a team, and it displays the wins for the selected team vs. the average wins for the rest of the division.

How Every Team and Division Has Fared in NFC vs. AFC Matchups

In 2018, we’ll get to see Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers battle it out on the field for the second – and possibly final – time. Fans have had to wait 4 years since the last matchup because of the NFL’s division-heavy schedule. Every season, there are 64 regular-season games in which a team from the NFC plays a team from the AFC. Some teams, like the Patriots and Cowboys have fared well in these inter-conference matchups over the past 4 seasons. Some other teams haven’t been so fortunate. This graphic shows the success of teams and divisions over the past four years. Play around with the drop-down lists, and hover over the bars to see the results!

Team preview: Kansas City Chiefs

<p> In 2012, the Kansas City Chiefs finished the regular season with a 2-14 record, good for worst in the National Football League. Under new head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey in 2013, the Chiefs turned that lackluster effort around and improved to 11-5.</p> <p> Critics will say it was the easy fourth-place schedule that served as the catalyst for Kansas City’s quick turnaround. I disagree. Having known John Dorsey for almost 25 years and having worked with Reid for one year, I know better. Both are outstanding leaders and did what was necessary to bring confidence to an already talented roster.</p> <p> The Chiefs got to the playoffs a year ago, but blew a 28-point lead in the second half of their wild card game at Indianapolis and wound up losing by a point. A loss like that can either demoralize a team or motivate them. I am betting that the loss will motivate the Chiefs to try and equal or surpass what they did a year ago.</p> <p> <strong>Quarterback </strong></p> <p> Alex Smith struggled for a good part of his time in San Francisco. Many labeled him a “bust” as Smith didn’t live up to being the first player picked in the 2005 NFL draft. Be that as it may, Smith still played very good football last year in Kansas City. He has matured as a player and become a good leader. While Smith isn’t in the same category of quarterbacks like Manning, Brees, Brady and Rodgers, he is a solid winning NFL quarterback.</p> <p class="co_image co_image_right inline_right"> <img alt="Alex Smith" src="http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c1910342/media_center/images/rendered/blog/wysiwyg/chiefs-4439.jpg" />Smith threw a career-high 23 touchdown passes last season.</p> <p> For the season, Smith completed 308 of 508 passes for over 3,300 yards, 23 touchdowns, with only seven interceptions. With 2014 being Smith’s second year in Reid’s system, I expect him to show improvement in all areas. Being that he is only 30-years-old, his best football is still in front of him.</p> <p> In Chase Daniel, the Chiefs have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Daniel is capable of winning any time he steps on the field. In the fifth round, the Chiefs stole Aaron Murray from Georgia. Had it not been for a torn ACL, Murray would have gone much higher in the draft. 2014 will be strictly a developmental year for him.</p> <p> <strong>Running back</strong></p> <p> <a href="http://footballpost.wpengine.com/Chiefs-sign-Jamaal-Charles-to-twoyear-extension.html" target="_self">Armed with a new contract extension</a>, Jamaal Charles is ready to continue as one of the premier running backs in the NFL. While Charles isn’t one of the league’s biggest backs, he is one of the fastest and most explosive players in the game. He is a threat to make a big play any time he touches the ball.</p> <p> Rookie De’Anthony Thomas from Oregon is a smaller version of Charles. He has great breakaway ability and is very reliable catching the ball. Knile Davis and Cyrus Gray are two talented, but unproven backups.</p> <p> Fullback Anthony Sherman doesn’t get much publicity, but he is excellent at what he does. Sherman is a premier run and pass blocker and while he only touches the ball about once a game, Sherman averages almost eight yards per touch.</p> <p> <strong>Receivers and tight ends</strong></p> <p> The Chiefs need more production from their wide receiver unit. Dwayne Bowe had the most receptions among wide receivers last season with 57. Next was Donnie Avery with 40 catches.</p> <p> Bowe has reportedly lost weight and is in excellent shape. He needs to up his production by at least 20 percent and Avery needs to nearly double his production. Former 49ers wideouts Kyle Williams and A.J. Jenkins need to come on as the third and fourth receivers. If Jenkins doesn’t improve, his days in the NFL could be over. Junior Hemingway is a good special teams player and has excellent hands, but needs to develop his route running.</p> <p> At the tight end position, injuries just about wiped out this group in 2013. Anthony Fasano, the top tight end, missed seven games. When healthy, Fasano is a reliable receiver who can also block. Last year’s third-round pick in Travis Kelce missed most of last year with a knee injury. He functions like a big wide receiver and can create mismatches.</p> <p> The blocking tight end, Sean McGrath, retired and the Chiefs will need to find a strong blocker to replace him.</p> <p> <strong>Offensive line</strong></p> <p> The offensive line is a position group that is in transition and line coach Andy Heck has his work cut out for him. The Chiefs lost some players on the O-Line during free agency. That will hurt the depth, but perhaps not the efficiency.</p> <p> Last year’s first overall draft pick in Eric Fisher moves over to left tackle. While Fisher struggled some on the right side as a rookie, he is a natural left tackle and after a year in the league, knows what is expected of him.</p> <p> The right tackle will be Donald Stephenson, who was the third tackle a year ago. This is Stephenson’s third year and he is ready to be a starter. There will be a battle during training camp for the third tackle spot between Ryan Harris and J’Marcus Webb, who have both been starters in the league and have had their moments. The winner will be the one who can play both tackle spots with consistency.</p> <p> The fourth tackle will be rookie Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, who played his college football in Canada. Laurent has the physical traits, but is raw and will need a year to develop and get used to the speed of the NFL. The Chiefs have to keep him on the 53-man roster because of his talent and upside.</p> <p> At left guard, Jeff Allen returns. While he had some games where he struggled in 2013, he is very talented as well as athletic and will settle down in 2014. Who plays right guard will be determined in training camp. Right now, three players are fighting for the job. Rishaw Johnson started the final game last year and had his moments. Rookie Zach Fulton is strong and looked good during OTA’s and camp to date. Free agent Jeff Linkenbach, who the Chiefs signed away from Indianapolis, can play guard or tackle and will be a valuable reserve if he doesn’t start. The player with the most upside is Fulton.</p> <p> The center position is in good hands with steady Rodney Hudson, the Chiefs’ second-round pick from 2011.</p> <p> <strong>Defensive line</strong></p> <p class="co_image co_image_right inline_right"> <img alt="Justin Houston" src="http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c1910342/media_center/images/rendered/blog/wysiwyg/houston-5865.jpg" />Linebacker Justin Houston has notched 21.0 sacks over his last 27 regular season games.</p> <p> People questioned the Chiefs when they selected Dontari Poe in the first round of the 2012 draft. The good news for Kansas City is that they are laughing last, as Poe has turned into the best nose tackle in football. While most nose tackles can only stop the run, Poe can also rush the passer. What the Chiefs need is a solid backup so Poe can come off the field. He played 95 percent of the defensive downs last year.</p> <p> The starting ends should be Vance Walker and Mike DeVito. Walker, who was a free agent signee from the Raiders, has better pass rush skills than last year’s starter Allen Bailey. DeVito also is strong versus the run, but has to get better rushing the passer.</p> <p> To play in the rotation, the Chiefs have Bailey and second-year man Mike Catapano. Catapano ha
s put on 20 solid pounds and is more ready to play and it is hopeful he can provide some pass rush. Two others who figure into the rotation will be Kyle Love and Jaye Howard. Love started 25 games while with New England and could be the guy who gives Poe a break.</p> <p> <strong>Linebackers</strong></p> <p> This is one of the stronger units on the club. Inside is Derrick Johnson, who has been a steady player for ten years. In free agency, the Chiefs signed Joe Mays away from the Texans. While pass coverage is the best element of Mays’s game, he is also a sound run defender. Nico Johnson, a fourth-round pick a year ago, also figures into the equation inside.</p> <p> Outside, the Chiefs are very good. On one side is consistent Tamba Hali, who still is strong in his ninth year, with 11 sacks a year ago. The starter on the other side is Justin Houston, who is also an excellent pass rusher. Houston missed five games yet still notched 11 sacks in 2013.</p> <p> In the first round of May’s draft, Kansas City added Auburn defensive end Dee Ford. Ford will convert to linebacker, but will still be playing down in pass rush situations. He was one of the top pass rushers in college football last year and is easily athletic enough to play on his feet.</p> <p> <strong>Secondary</strong></p> <p> The Chiefs recently decided it was time to part ways with long-time starting corner Brandon Flowers. Flowers signed with San Diego and will be a huge upgrade for the Chargers at the position.</p> <p> With the Chiefs wanting to play a lot of press man coverage, the need is for tall corners. The man who is in good position to replace Flowers is Marcus Cooper, who is in his second year from Rutgers. Cooper is 6’2” and has the press skills that the Chiefs are looking for. The other corner will be veteran Sean Smith, who is also a tall and long athlete. His specialty is press coverage.</p> <p> A rookie who will get a long look will be Phillip Gaines from Rice. Gaines is long and can run and like the others, can play press. Ron Parker will also get a look and played well in OTA’s. Chris Owens, a free agent who was with the Dolphins, can play inside on the slot. This group is young and inexperienced and needs to step up to the plate if the Chiefs are going to be successful.</p> <p> At safety, Eric Berry is one of the best in the business. He can cover like a corner and is excellent in run support. The other safety will be Husain Abdullah, who gets his chance to start after being a backup last year. He replaces Kendrick Lewis, who was not a fit in defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme. Jerron McMillian and Sanders Commings should be the primary backups.</p> <p> <strong>Outlook</strong></p> <p> With the Chiefs winning 11 games a year ago, a lot is expected entering the fall. Kansas City has some question marks in that the offensive line and the defensive backfield have a lot of new faces and they have to come of age very quickly.</p> <p> Still, Andy Reid is one of the best in the business and he will have his team ready to play come the first week in September. Having worked with Reid for one year and played against him for many, I know you can never sell his team short. They come to play every week.</p> <p> My feeling is the Chiefs may not have enough to beat Denver for the division, but should once again be a wild card team. The key will be how they perform during the season series with rival San Diego.</p> <p> <strong>Follow Greg on Twitter:</strong> @<a href="http://www.twitter.com/greggabe" target="_blank">greggabe</a></p>