Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City has the tall task of beating the Buffalo Bills on Monday — let’s check in on the trends.
It will be a gut-check game for the defending Super Bowl champs. The big news of the week is the addition of a new running back, but he won’t be available for the game.
Here are a few trending Chiefs going into an important Monday game:
- Mecole Hardman: It’s time for the second-year receiver to step up, with Sammy Watkins out facing a good Buffalo defense. The Chiefs need the big=play threat opposite Tyreek Hill to put pressure on the secondary and give Travis Kelce and Clyde Edwards-Helaire room to work. It hasn’t been a banner year for Hardman yet, but if there were a week for him to get going, let’s hope it’s this one.
- Willie Gay Jr.: The athletic rookie is getting better each week, and the defense needs his athleticism on the field. Somewhere around the middle of the season, rookies often stop being rookies. They have adjusted, learned the scheme and can play more like a veteran. Perhaps Gay is actually a bit ahead of his developmental curve, as he approaches the middle of the season as a starter. The Bills have a couple of athletic players to deal with over the middle; watch for No. 50 to make some plays this week.
- Bashaud Breeland: The return of Breeland came at an opportune time. After losing surprise starter L’Jarius Sneed early in the season, Charvarius Ward was banged up and exposed against the Raiders, and he had to be replaced by Rashad Fenton. The once-overachieving Chiefs secondary was in desperate need of competency. Enter Bashaud Breeland, fresh off of his suspension, playing a really game and recording an interception last week. This week, he’ll have a tough draw against Stefon Diggs or John Brown, but he appears up to the task in (yet another) contract year.
Others trending in the right direction this week: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Rashad Fenton, Anthony Hitchens
- Darrel Williams: Williams hasn’t been quite the RB2 we had hoped this season. The Chiefs have tried him in some key spots — without much production. They tried Darwin Thompson as well. The results led them to have some level of interest in every major free agent running back to hit the market, including Adrian Peterson, Leonard Fournette and the newest Chief, Le’Veon Bell. This may be the last week Williams sees the field on offense in any meaningful way for Kansas City.
- The Chiefs’ offensive line: Flat out, this entire unit hasn’t been good enough this season, and they just lost the one guy who seemed like a difference-maker in Kelechi Osemele. The Buffalo Bills defensive front is deep and strong and presents a big challenge. Both Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz have not looked like the same players they were last season. Mahomes will likely make some corrections and do his part; will the blockers do the same?
Value (sleeper) pick: Byron Pringle
Byron Pringle: We’ll hold onto hope that the Chiefs give Pringle more opportunities. Pringle has shown to be strong enough to pluck the ball out of the air and fight through tackles. He can also run routes competently enough to do some of what Sammy Watkins can do. If he gets a chance this week, Pringle could show just how far he’s come in his Chiefs career and make a case for a more significant role.