For those who don’t know, Gil Brandt is an NFL.com analyst these days. Before that, Brandt put together a legendary career in scouting with the Dallas Cowboys, becoming known by many as the Godfather of football. Needless to say, when Brandt speaks, you listen.
On Thursday night, Brandt wrote a piece about the Kansas City Chiefs after visiting them in training camp on Wednesday, and he loves what he sees. Brandt believes the Chiefs will dethrone the Denver Broncos in the AFC West this year, while also seeing a Pro Bowl-caliber campaign for third-year tackle Eric Fisher. Here’s a snippet of what he wrote:
"I’ve had reason to feel optimistic about this squad before, most notably two years ago, when I predicted — correctly — that the 2013 Chiefs would reach double-digit wins. Well, this year, I’m taking it up a notch after getting an up-close look at them in training camp: I’m picking them to win the AFC West."
Brandt also wrote about quarterback Alex Smith, who he believes gets a bad rap as a game manager. While Smith has never thrown for more than 3,400 passing yards in a season, he is incredibly effective. In his last four seasons, Smith is 38-16-1 between the San Francisco 49ers and Chiefs, as Brandt points out. Brandt also had this nugget about Smith:
"I talked to the very confident Smith for about 30 minutes, and I can tell you he feels good about his receivers. He looked pretty good at camp; in fact, I can see him having his best season in 2015."
The last talking point I want to hit on was Brandt discussing both the Chiefs and Broncos’ schedules. Brandt believes Kansas City could put Denver in the hole early if it can beat the Houston Texans in Week 1. The Chiefs and Broncos then clash in Week 2 on Thursday Night Football in Arrowhead Stadium, giving Kansas City a distinct advantage. Per Brandt:
"After opening at Houston — a much easier proposition now that stud Texans running back Arian Foster will be out as he continues to recover from groin surgery — Kansas City returns home to welcome Denver for Week 2’s Thursday night matchup.The Broncos, meanwhile, will be coming off what promises to be a tough home matchup with Baltimore. Given that it can be challenging to travel for a road game on a short week like that, the Chiefs should have an opportunity to beat Denver for the first time since the 2011 campaign — and start 2-0 while potentially dropping the Broncos to 0-2."
Denver could be in serious trouble if things play out like Brandt believes they could. The Broncos are very good at home so beating them there will not be easy for the Ravens. That said, the Broncos have an offensive line that currently features a left tackle, left guard and center who have never taken an NFL snap. Couple that with our former swinging door, Ryan Harris, at right tackle, and they could have insanely bad protection.
When you face Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali in your first two games with that group, with Peyton Manning now under center instead of in the shotgun, good luck.