Packers vs. Chiefs: Three questions with Arrowhead Addict

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 01: The Kansas City Chiefs line up against the Green Bay Packers during the preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium on September 1, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 01: The Kansas City Chiefs line up against the Green Bay Packers during the preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium on September 1, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Ahead of the Green Bay Packers’ preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, we spoke to Arrowhead Addict’s Jordan Mannix.

This week, the Green Bay Packers host the Kansas City Chiefs in their final preseason game.

Don’t expect the Packers’ starters to be on the field only seven days away from their regular-season opener, but for the players on the roster bubble, there will be plenty to play for.

Ahead of the Chiefs’ visit to Lambeau Field on Thursday evening, I spoke to Jordan Mannix, a contributor at Arrowhead Addict.

Mannix discusses players to watch in this game, whether the Chiefs can take the next step in 2019, and whether Patrick Mahomes can replicate his incredible MVP season.

How can the Chiefs take the next step, and have they done enough this offseason?

Jordan Mannix: For the Chiefs, taking the next step is all about the defense. Most expectations for the offense in 2019 are that it may be difficult to maintain the outlandish numbers from a season ago, but that any drop-off will be minimal.

The reasons for this are plenty: Mahomes in his second season at the helm, Sammy Watkins is healthy and in his second season in Andy Reid‘s offense (wide receivers usually make a jump in this scenario in Year 2), and the addition of Mecole Hardman.

In particular, Hardman has looked much more effective than most local media expected this early, and looks to be pushing for the third receiver spot in his rookie season.

As for the defense, as I mentioned this will be key. It’s hard to imagine that they could be as bad, or worse than last year. Aside from the argument of reversion to the mean, there are several reasons to believe this team should improve.

The front office went to work this offseason absolutely stacking the defensive line with players who consistently graded strong in the run game. The two main additions here are Frank Clark and Alex Okafor. Along with Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi, this group is far better suited to stopping the run than last year.

The same can be said for the backend of the defense, where the Chiefs acquired Tyrann Mathieu and drafted Juan Thornhill. The Chiefs had one of the worst safety units in the league last year, and it burned them countless times in important moments (think Rams and Patriots games).

The major questions are at linebacker and corner. The corner situation is far from resolved, at this point fans are hoping the patchwork group of corners are good enough. The linebackers took a step in the right direction, and I expect they’ll be improved, but it’s tough to call them average yet.

Can Patrick Mahomes replicate his incredible MVP season in 2019?

Mannix: It’s tough to expect Mahomes to replicate last year’s performance, given it’s arguably the second best ever. Teams have more film on him and with a better defense (hopefully), they shouldn’t have to score as much as they did last year.

I expect him to likely regress a little, but I’d still expect him to be in the MVP discussion. He has too many weapons in his second season, I’d expect him to hit somewhere in the range of 45 TDs and 5,000 yards.

Note: Mannix wrote an article for Arrowhead Addict predicting how Mahomes will follow his incredible 2018 season, which you can find here.

Name a player or two to watch in this game.

Mannix: Offense – Cody Thompson and Byron Pringle were fighting with each other to make the team. With Marcus Kemp lost for the season from an ACL/MCL tear, they looked to be safe. However, the Chiefs brought in a familiar face in Oregon star De’Anthony Thomas.

The wide receiver group is absolutely loaded, so a number of players will be vying for a roster spot right up to cuts. Also, Kahlil McKenzie was a project the Chiefs drafted last year in the seventh round.

He was a defensive tackle in college the Chiefs converted to offensive guard. While he possesses monstrous size, and seems to have improved some, it’s tough to see him making the team. He needs to look great in the game against the Packers.

Defense – Herb Miller, D’Montre Wade, and Mark Fields are all undrafted guys looking to make the team at corner. None of them are great, but each has made some plays here and there during training camp and the preseason.

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