Winning is difficult in the NFL. Winning on a sustained level is nearly impossible. For the Kansas City Chiefs, they are battling elements of all kinds in their attempt to establish an ultra-rare dynasty, but they're armed with future Hall of Fame players and accomplishing what so few other teams have ever done.
As they prepare to defend their title in 2023, the Chiefs will likely need some real surprises to repeat as champs—unexpected heroes to rise up and shocking production from somewhere. Since we're believers here in Chiefs Kingdom (and why shouldn't we be), we've got a few bold predictions to toss out there for the upcoming season and it begins with an overlooked player on offense.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire will rebound with solid season
At the present time, Deneric Prince, an undrafted free agent signing out of Tulsa, is getting more attention and generating more hope for production at the running back position than Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a former first-round pick heading into his contract year. That's how far CEH has fallen from grace.
It might sound ridiculous to expect much of anything from Edwards-Helaire in 2023 given the talent already in place on the roster and his recent history with the team. Isiah Pacheco is locked into starter's reps coming into his second year in the league. Jerick McKinnon has been an ideal tandem partner and late season hero for two years and the Chiefs brought him back for yet another run. And then there's the aforementioned Prince who has turned heads in spring practices and minicamps.
For a lot of fans, Edwards-Helaire represents a way to save a few million against the cap if released or traded this summer. Even if he remains on the active roster, expectations are likely to be minimal for a player with his injury history. After all, his snap totals have fallen from 207 during his rookie campaign to 130 in 2021 to only 79 last year.
But here's what's true about Edwards-Helaire. He's got very good hands out of the backfield and he's the best pass blocker not named McKinnon. He's also capable of moving the chains as a rusher (career 4.4 yards/carry) even if he's not nearly as dynamic as the team believed he'd be out of the backfield when they selected him one spot before Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.
Here's the thing: Edwards-Helaire is a better backup for Pacheco's role than McKinnon and a better backup for McKinnon's role than Pacheco. In the face of such a long season, Edwards-Helaire is a good bet to earn a decent amount of reps. And if he's ever going to feel the motivation to improve at the pro level—the move everyone's been waiting for—it's gotta be in this contract season with the Chiefs.
Edwards-Helaire might not put up franchise back production in 2023, but for a player who has been written off by 99 percent of Chiefs Kingdom, we're predicting he'll surprise most of us with respectable totals by season's end.