4 nightmare scenarios for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2024

What are four issues that can potentially derail the Kansas City Chiefs season in 2024?
Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

As we approach mid-July, the Kansas City Chiefs' 2024 training camp is no under two weeks away. The Chiefs are the back-to-back Super Bowl champions and are among the favorites to win again this February.

Despite their strong roster, the NFL season is never predictable. Last year, even with their championship win, the Chiefs experienced their most challenging regular season in the Patrick Mahomes era.

What potential issues could derail the Chiefs' 2024 season? What are their main concerns, and how might the team address these challenges?

Let's examine four realistic nightmare scenarios for the 2024 Kansas City Chiefs.

Note: We've excluded obvious factors like injuries and losing streaks. We're also keeping scenarios realistic, so extreme situations like "Patrick Mahomes turning into Zach Wilson" have been left on the cutting room floor.

1. The WR additions flop

To put it nicely, the Chiefs' wide receivers didn't quite hit the mark in 2023. Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore didn't develop as hoped, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling took a step back. Rashee Rice and Justin Watson had decent seasons, but it wasn't enough to make the receiver group respectable.

To bolster the unit, Brett Veach brought in veteran Marquise "Hollywood" Brown on a one-year deal and drafted speedster Xavier Worthy in the first round. These moves aim to add some explosiveness to the passing game. Brown's been solid since joining the NFL in 2019, though his yardage has dipped recently. Worthy, despite his record-breaking combine speed, has been dealing with some injury issues post-draft.

While Brown should be an upgrade from MVS, it's not a given that he'll be a perfect fit for the Chiefs. According to Pro Football Focus ($), his yards per route have been declining since 2020, and it might not all be down to quarterback issues.

Worthy's got speed and potential, but he's not a sure thing. His size and durability were question marks pre-draft, and a recent hamstring issue isn't helping those questions. Plus, Andy Reid's offense is tough for rookies to crack - even Rashee Rice took a little while to find his groove last year.

Speaking of Rice, there's a slim chance he could face a suspension this season for off-field issues, though it'll likely be pushed to 2025. If it happens this season, it could throw a wrench in the Chiefs' plans for the offense to bounce back.

So how can the Chiefs tackle these potential challenges? First, they could aim for a more balanced offense. If the receivers struggle again, leaning on their solid O-line and Isiah Pacheco might be the way to go. Second, they need to find the right mix of receivers and tight ends, and be willing to bench underperformers faster than they did last year. Lastly, cutting down on turnovers is crucial - they were as much of a headache as the receiver issues last season.

2. The secondary regresses significantly without L'Jarius Sneed

In an offseason filled with controversial moments and decisions, one of the moves that cannot be forgotten is trading L’Jarius Sneed. While it was probably smart business, Brett Veach caught some flak for dealing away one of the NFL's top cornerbacks for a future draft pick.

Sure, they still have all-pro Trent McDuffie, but he's just one piece of the defensive backfield puzzle. Next in line are third-year players Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams.

Watson and Williams showed promise in limited roles last season, but there's no guarantee they'll shine with more playing time. They'll face tougher assignments, and Steve Spagnuolo will expect more from them as veterans.

If McDuffie, Watson, and Williams all struggle with their expanded roles, Kansas City's once-elite defense could take a hit. We're not talking about becoming a bad or even average defense, but cornerbacks are crucial and can be unpredictable from year to year. This could come back to bite them this season.

So, how do the Chiefs tackle this if our corners underwhelm? First, they'll need to find the right mix of players. They also have young guns Kamal Hadden and Nic Jones who could rotate in. The Chiefs also have a solid, deep safety group, so using versatile players like Chamarri Conner and Nazeeh Johnson at corner for a few snaps might be smart.

3. The turnover problem doesn't go away

Remember how we talked about the receivers being a headache last season? Well, turnovers were just as big a problem. The Chiefs turned the ball over in 14 out of 16 regular season games last year (with starters playing), tying them for the 7th-most giveaways in the league. That's got to change this year.

Sure, there might be more wiggle room on offense with the supposedly improved receiver corps, but nothing's set in stone. Even the best offenses can be derailed by turnover troubles.

In 2023, Mahomes threw a career-high 14 interceptions, and the team fumbled away the ball 11 times- tied for the second-most in the Mahomes era. If they can trim those numbers down, the Chiefs offense will naturally improve. If not, they might be in for another bumpy ride.

Besides being more careful, there's not much else the team can do to cut down on turnovers. Mahomes needs to keep making smart decisions, which he usually does, and the receivers and running backs need to focus on ball security. If someone starts getting reckless, even if it doesn't always result in a turnover, they might need to ride the bench for a bit. 'Almost turnovers' may not show up on the stat sheet, but the more close calls a team has, the more real turnovers they'll end up with.

4. Both young left tackles prove not to be ready

The left tackle battle is shaping up to be the hot topic at Chiefs training camp this year. After rolling with Donovan Smith last season, the team's now pinning its hopes on second-year player Wanya Morris and rookie Kingsley Suamataia.

Most draft gurus didn't see Suamataia as NFL-ready, suggesting he might need a year to polish his pass-blocking skills. Morris had some solid outings in 2023, but also some rough patches. The team's decision to draft Suamataia in the second round more than hints they're not fully sold on Morris.

While Suamataia is seen as the future of Mahomes' blindside protection, and Morris has some experience under his belt, neither is a proven left tackle. It's a bit like last year's wide receiver situation; the Chiefs are banking on one of these guys stepping up to be a solid starter for a Super Bowl contender.

If left tackle ends up being a weak spot this season, it could spell trouble. Throw in Jawaan Taylor's penalty issues from last year (if they continue), and we might be looking at some shaky protection for Mahomes.

So, what's the fix if things go south? The simplest solution might be bringing back Donovan Smith. He may not be an elite pass-protector anymore, but he's a steady hand and could be an upgrade if both Suamataia and Morris struggle.