Know Your Enemy! The 2023 NFL Season is a mere 81 days away. Time to look at the NFC North’s opponents for the 2023 season. Get to know them, study them, woe them, then beat the living tar out of them during the season. The NFC North has a tough task facing the AFC West and not so tough task facing the NFC South in 2023. We’ll start with the Kansas City Chiefs. They happen to have won this thing called the Super Bowl last season. Never heard of it but sounds intriguing.
Kansas City Chiefs
Head Coach Andy Reid (future HOF coach) leads the Chiefs after his second Super Bowl win in four seasons (third appearance with Chiefs). The Chiefs might/may be pretty good led by now two-time current MVP Patrick Mahomes (5,250 yards 41 TDS 12 interceptions).
Kansas City was 14-3 in 2023 (7-1 at home, 7-2 away). They beat Jacksonville, Cincinnati and Philadelphia in the playoffs for the Super Bowl victory.
Former OC Eric Bienemy left for Washington to get some more autonomy in game planning. He is replaced by Bears favorite former head coach Matt Nagy as OC. Andy Reid still runs the show with a future HOF QB. The offense will still be good despite Nagy and should still be a top offense. Kansas City was first in 2022 scoring 29.2 PPG.
Steve Spagnuolo returns to coach the defense. The defense was average allowing 21.7 PPG (16th in the league and below average with 20 turnovers forced). Defensively, the Chiefs seem weaker, but they turn it on when they need to or just win a shootout led by Mahomes.
QB and Passing Game
Mahomes. He is the best in the league, and nobody will argue with you about that anymore. Expect another big year even after losing Ju Ju Smith Schuster (933 yards and 3 TDs) in free agency.
TE Travis Kelce is still the top dog (1,338 yards and 12 TDs). Marquez Valdez Scantling is the deep threat (687 yards and 2 TDs). Kadarius Toney got new life after being traded from the Giants mid-season. Skyy Moore in the slot as former 2nd round pick replacing Mecole Hardman (gone in FA too). Another second rounder in rookie Rashee Rice was added in this draft. The Chiefs will dominate with Mahomes and Kelce and a bunch of young players at WR.
The offensive line got reworked but it is still a strength. Donovan Smith comes over from Tampa to play LT and Jawaan Taylor got huge contract to play RT coming from Jacksonville. Joe Thuney is a stud LG and Creed Humphrey was the top graded center in 2022. Trey Smtih (RG) was 12th out 77 guards. Mahomes will be well protected barring injuries and have time to carve up defenses.
Chiefs were 8th in YPC in 2022 and have that stud line shown above. Isiah Pacheco enters year 2 after 830 yards at 4.9 YPC and 170 carries. Clyde Edwards Helaire still can play as a former 1st round pick and Jerrick McKinnon is a solid 3rd option/pass catcher. Mahomes can scramble well if needed too.
Nothing really to hate about the Chiefs offense for 2023 even with WR questions.
Nick Bolton (12th out of 81) and Willie Gay (32nd out of 81) get the job done for the Chiefs. Bolton is a very good cover linebacker. Leo Chanal is a 3rd round pick as depth and Drue Tranquill is another solid cover corner added in FA.
LaJarius Sneed (CB1) is a shut-down corner (13th out of 118). Trent McDuffie (slot) was 16th out of 118 CBs. Jaylen Watson (2022 7th rounder) was average and should grow from his rookie season. Depth is questionable though with Nazeeh Johnson (2022 7th rounder), Joshua Williams (2022 4th rounder), DiCaprio Bootle (backup nickel).
Solid but Questions
Chris Jones is the best DT in football. He has some contract disputes happening right now but should play and be a stud for the Chiefs. Michael Danna is an average DT/DE but Derrick Nnadi struggles at nose tackle but takes up blockers.
DE is young with George Karlaftis (Round 1 pick in 2022), Felix Anudike -Uzomah (Round 1 pick in 2023) and FA Charles Omenihu (43rd of 109 EDGES) from San Fran revamping the room. Frank Clark was cut for cap space and to give the young players time to play. Mike Danna can play DE as well if needed for depth.
Bryan Cook was a 2nd round pick in 2022 that must step u (67th out of 88) and Justin Reid (32nd of 88) replaces Juan Thornhill (left in FA). Mike Edwards was a high pick that never panned out with Tampa Bay and Chamari Conner is a rookie from Round 4 in the draft. Some talent here but lots of questions on the back end.
Harrison Butker is a good kicker and Tommy Townsend was the top punter in the league last season. Pacheco and Toney are dangerous kick and punt returners, respectively with speed.
The Chiefs open the season at home at Arrowhead against the Lions on Thursday Night Football (8:20 ET) in Week 1. I can’t think of a better test for the Lions than that and just to keep it close is a win.
Week 3 the Chiefs host Chicago at 425 PM on FOX. The Chiefs travel to Minnesota in Week 5 (4:25 PM CBS) and to chilly Green Bay for Sunday Night Football (820 ET) in Week 13.
Barring a Mahomes injury, the Chiefs should win all four games and are favorites to repeat as Super Bowl champions.