The Arizona Cardinals open the 2022 season against one of the most dominant teams of the past few years — the Kansas City Chiefs.
Since these two teams last met in 2018, the Chiefs have made the postseason every year, highlighted by a Super Bowl ring (two appearances) and two conference championship appearances.
Last season, they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship. Following the loss, general manager Brett Veach opted to move on from some of their star veterans in favor of a youth movement.
Kansas City traded superstar wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins for a draft haul last March. Hill was the most explosive playmaker in the AFC for the past few seasons but was dealt away amidst contract negotiations.
Hill’s speed was such a mismatch for almost any defense the Chiefs played. The threat of Mahomes’ arm with Hill’s speed opened up the intermediate passing attack for Travis Kelce. That threat is no longer there.
Hill isn’t the only Pro-Bowler to leave the Chiefs. The team parted ways with former Cardinals standout safety Tyrann Mathieu. The Honey Badger had been a team captain and one of the primary reasons for their defensive turnaround, paving the way for their two Super Bowl appearances.
With Hill and Mathieu being the biggest losses, they weren’t the only ones. The Chiefs parted ways with numerous veterans since last January.
Chiefs’ key offseason losses
WR Tyreek Hill
S Tyrann Mathieu
CB Charvarius Ward
WR Demarcus Robinson
OLB Melvin Ingram
ILB Anthony Hitchens
Chiefs’ key offseason additions
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
S Justin Reid
CB Trent McDuffie
EDGE George Karlaftis
WR Skyy Moore
The biggest name at wideout to replace the traded Hill is, of course, Smith-Schuster. JuJu had a dominant season with Pittsburgh in 2018 but struggled to repeat that same level of success afterward.
Defensively, Justin Reid is a solid player but isn’t the same caliber as Mathieu. First-round rookies George Karlaftis and Trent McDuffie are both very promising and will have large roles early on.
All in all, the Chiefs will be a force as long as Patrick Mahomes is under center. The team did lose a number of key contributors, and it is their first game without them.
If the Cardinals are going to win this game, they’ll need to capitalize on those losses.