1. The Chiefs will have their full complement of weapons on offense in this game for the first time since the very beginning of Week 1. Will this offense look like the 2018 version on Sunday?
There is potential for the offense to look the best it has all season, but it depends on if Pat Mahomes is truly 100% healthy. The offense can excel either way -- but what takes it to another level of dynamism is Mahomes’ ability to use his athleticism and make plays outside of the pocket. If his knee and ankle are feeling good enough for him to scramble effectively and make throws on the run, that combined with the recent performance of the receiving corps should make for a very explosive offensive display on Sunday.
2. Who is one offensive and one defensive under-the-radar Chiefs player more people should be talking about? Why?
On the offensive side of the football, the under-the-radar player may not be an under-the-radar name. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins has become underappreciated this season after his monster performance in Week 1. Last week against Minnesota, he had his best game since Week 1 with 63 yards on seven catches -- including two incredibly tough grabs. This will be his first game catching passes from Mahomes since Week 4 because of injuries to both, so watch out for that connection. On defense, I have to highlight the defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi. He has been one of the biggest reasons for the recent improvement in the run defense. His low center of gravity allows him not to get moved very easily and maintain his gap well. He does not offer much in pass rush, but he can collapse the pocket by simply being stronger than the lineman blocking him.
3. The Chiefs defense ranks really poorly against the run but did a nice job against Dalvin Cook last week- who has been one of the best backs in the league. What, if anything, did they do to switch things up?
The biggest factor in the resurgence of the run defense has been the performance of the interior defensive line. I mentioned Nnadi, but rookie Khalen Saunders and recently-acquired Mike Pennel has been stout in recent weeks. This makes it easier for the linebackers to see their gaps and fill them. Credit should also be due to defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. He has been adjusting his game plans to put players in positions to succeed. One specific adjustment was using Chris Jones on the edge rather than on the interior. Jones did very well in this role against the run, so look for him to be used there more this week.
4. When healthy this Chiefs team is the best in the league in my opinion. Do you agree? If not, what is holding them back?
I absolutely agree. This team has had at least one key starter out of the game for every minute of their season since the first quarter of Week 1. We haven’t even seen a genuinely healthy Mahomes since he sprained his ankle in the first half of Week 1. They are getting close to having everyone back now, but they are still missing starting left tackle Eric Fisher. Fisher is essential to the success of the offense. With the improvements on defense, I do believe the Chiefs are the best team in the NFL when healthy.