Kansas City Chiefs should lead the league in interceptions in 2018


Although the Chiefs traded away cornerback Marcus Peters, Chiefs fans should expect this defense to dominate and lead the NFL in interceptions.

The Kansas City Chiefs placed in the top five in interceptions three times under Andy Reid’s guidance since his arrival in 2013. The Chiefs tied for first in 2016 with two other teams with 18, second in 2015 with 22 and tied for third with one other team in 2013 with 21. As for the other two seasons, the Chiefs tied for ninth place last season with 16 interceptions along with two other teams. The only year where Kansas City struggled coming away interceptions was in 2014 when their six interceptions tied them with two other teams for last place.

Although Kansas City traded away the top interceptor in the league since 2015 in cornerback Marcus Peters, there are plenty of reasons why Chiefs fans should feel optimistic that the team will thrive and lead the league in interceptions in 2018 with its new secondary.

When trading away Alex Smith, the Chiefs acquired cornerback Kendall Fuller from the Washington Redskins, who flourished in his second season in the league. Pro Football Focus rated Fuller as the sixth best cover corner in 2017. After going the entire 2016 season without any interceptions nor forced fumbles, Fuller collected four picks and forced one fumble in 2017.

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Prior to officially adding Fuller, the Chiefs signed former Raiders and Redskins cornerback David Amerson after he was let go by the Raiders this offseason. The former North Carolina State Wolfpack has played for two different teams in his five-year career. But expect his tenure in Kansas City to be his best yet.

During the 2016 season, Amerson was consistently rated as one of the best cornerbacks in the league by Pro Football Focus. He was named the most improved cornerback in 2016 by PFF. Amerson had a disappointing 2017 season, which was cut short. After starting five of the first six games, Amerson suffered an ankle injury in Week 7, forcing him to miss the final nine games of the year.

After being claimed off waivers from the Redskins, Amerson had two good seasons with the Raiders in 2015 and 2016. Amerson collected six interceptions and recorded 41 pass deflections in those two seasons. He had 25 pass deflections in 2015, finishing second, right behind Peters, who was a rookie with the Chiefs at the time. Amerson also had one interception he took back for a touchdown in Oakland, doing so once before in his career with Washington.

With Emmitt Thomas, a former cornerback who played an instrumental role in helping the Chiefs win a Super Bowl in 1970, as their positions coach, look for Fuller and Amerson to have their best seasons and become one of the top cornerback duos in the NFL.

Safety Eric Berry will return after an Achilles injury in the NFL season opener sidelined him for the remainder of the year. With plenty of time to rest and recover, Berry is expected to continue his dominance at his position.

While Kansas City has a strong secondary on paper that should rack up a lot of interceptions, it can collect even more if the front seven can consistently put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Chiefs finished sixth or above from 2013 through 2015 in sacks, getting to the quarterback 140 times in those three seasons. The Chiefs were not as sound the past two seasons, finishing 29th in 2016 and 24th in 2017, mustering 59 sacks combined in the last two years.

Outside linebacker Justin Houston finished the season with 9.5 sacks, leading the team and tied 19th with three others. Defensive end Chris Jones was second on the team with 6.5 sacks. The Chiefs hope to get more production out of outside linebacker Dee Ford, who had just two sacks last year after he had 10 the season before. Tanoh Kpassagnon is another candidate to help the Chiefs improve up front. In the regular season finale against the Denver Broncos, Kpassagnon earned his first two sacks of his career.

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With plenty of players still available in free agency and with the draft still ahead, the Chiefs will have more opportunities to bring in players to help improve defensive front seven. If Kansas City’s front seven delivers, it will translate to success for the secondary, making it very likely that the Chiefs will finish above the rest of the league in total interceptions for 2018.