Here's a look at the Super Bowl prospects of the Kansas City Chiefs, who finished the season 10-6. The tiers consist of: Realistic Super Bowl expectations; Should contend, but there are question marks; Middle of the pack; Lots of work to do; and Nowhere close.
Westgate odds to win Super Bowl LIII: 25-1.
Should contend, but there are question marks: One of those question marks is quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, who will take over as the starter from Alex Smith. Mahomes flashed his considerable skills in training camp, the preseason and the one game he played during his rookie season in 2017, but it's still unknown whether he can consistently deliver as the full-time starter next season. If he can, the Chiefs should be able to score plenty of points. They've surrounded Mahomes with top skill players in tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and running back Kareem Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing as a rookie in 2017.
But the Chiefs must make some upgrades on defense. They struggled against both the run and the pass last season, finishing 25th in rushing defense and 29th when opponents threw the ball. The upgrade process has already started. The Chiefs acquired cornerback Kendall Fuller from Washington in the trade for Smith. He will play a lot next season, perhaps as a starter. The Chiefs will also welcome back safety Eric Berry, who missed all but the season opener because of a torn Achilles.
But more work remains. The Chiefs need to improve a pass rush that has been near the bottom of the league in sacks for the past two seasons. Having a healthy Dee Ford would help. Ford, who had 10 sacks in 2016, was limited to two in just six games last season because of back problems. The Chiefs could also use help on their defensive line. They don't have a first-round draft pick, having sent it to the Bills in last year's trade to move up for Mahomes. But the Chiefs should have enough cap room to be players in free agency. They will clear $17 million against their cap once the Smith trade becomes official.