The Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs face off Sunday afternoon at State Farm Stadium in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season. The Cardinals have not faced the Chiefs in the regular season since 2018, before Kliff Kingsbury was head coach and before Kyler Murray was drafted.
To help preview the game and get to know the team’s first opponent, Chiefs Wire managing editor Charles Goldman answered a few questions for us.
My questions and his answers are below.
Playing without Tyreek
What do you expect from the offense without Tyreek Hill this season? Who fills that void?
Well, it won’t be a singular receiver, I can tell you that much. If I had a make a bet on who will lead the group, I’d go with JuJu Smith-Schuster. He’s looked like the WR1 throughout training camp and the preseason. That said, this offense is going the death by 1,000 papercuts approach. If you look at the starting offense during the preseason, they had three touchdown drives that were right around a dozen plays each. Patrick Mahomes targeted 6-10 different receivers in a given drive. He’s going to force defenses to defend every blade of grass this season.
Defensively, where are you confident and where are you worried?
Early on I probably would have said the defensive line, but they’ve actually impressed since the additions of Carlos Dunlap and George Karlaftis. I think cornerback depth is probably the area that the team is weakest, just because three of the six players on the depth chart are rookies. One of those rookies will start (Trent McDuffie), but having two on the bench (Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams) as the team’s primary backups is a concern.
Impact of newcomers
What have you seen from the newcomers in the offseason? Who do you expect will make an impact?
Starting with the draft picks, nine of 10 made the 53-man roster in Kansas City. I would say the vast majority of them deserved to make it too. I’m expecting DE George Karlaftis and RB Isiah Pacheco to make the biggest impact early on out of that group. Trent McDuffie, Bryan Cook and Leo Chenal will also get a lot of opportunities. McDuffie is a starting outside corner, Cook will be on the field in dime looks and Chenal will be on the field in the base 4-3 looks.
Outside of the draft picks, in this particular game, I think everyone is banking on Carlos Dunlap being the disruptive force he was against the Cardinals last season when he played for the Seahawks.
Is there anything Patrick Mahomes can get better at?
Yeah, it’s oft overused by coaches and players in the NFL, but there is always something you can improve upon. For Mahomes, I think improvement this season just comes down to being patient. There were times last season where he forced some things trying to push the ball down the field and it cost him. This season, I expect a more efficient look from the offense with sustained drives and not as much of an emphasis on beating teams with the big explosive plays.
What is your prediction for this game?
I was pretty confident in the Chiefs when we spoke on your podcast earlier this offseason and my confidence has only grown since. I expect K.C. to come out of the gate hot on both sides of the ball after a really nice preseason showing. Between the uncertainty in the Arizona secondary and the injuries to offensive skill players, I think this game is going to be more of a struggle for the Cardinals than it will be for Kansas City.
Chiefs win 35-13.