1) We know you have a solid front 7, but what have the Chiefs done this year to improve their secondary?
Arrowhead Pride: They go hand in hand - the Chiefs secondary is good because the pass rush is good. At least on paper, the Chiefs secondary has gotten better since last season. They retained safeties Husain Abdullah and Ron Parker, who most of us like there. Eric Berry is back from his cancer diagnosis and playing on the second team with Tyvon Branch, who is a former Pro Bowler himself. That's a fairly deep set of safeties the Chiefs have.
At cornerback, they added first round pick Marcus Peters, who looks like the real deal so far. He's kind of like Sean Smith in that he's a big corner who hopes to bump you at the line. He's showing himself to be a smart player, too. Speaking of Sean Smith, he is suspended so he won't play. Lining up opposite Peters will be Phillip Gaines, who is a 2014 third round pick. He came on at the end of last season and had a strong offseason. He's not as physical as Peters but he's quick. Gaines will line up in the slot in nickel and Jamell Fleming will come in on the other corner.
Elevated Stats: Chiefs look tough, balanced
Elevated Stats returns - in which we collect stats and analytics from around the web and see how the Broncos are faring against their AFC counterparts.
They all have their weaknesses as young players but the future seems bright for the Chiefs secondary, who didn't allow a 300-yard passer last season.
2) Is Alex Smith going to finally throw a touchdown to a wide receiver this season? If so, how far into the season will it take?
Arrowhead Pride: Hopefully! It is an odd stat but it feels slightly overblown because the Chiefs had one of the best tight ends (Travis Kelce), one of the best pass catching backs (Jamaal Charles) and finished the season 16th in scoring. So it absolutely affected them but they weren't a completely incompetent offense.
That said, swapping out Dwayne Bowe for Jeremy Maclin is a much better fit for the Chiefs. Maclin is so much faster and fits into the Chiefs style of play better where they can get him the ball fast and let him create after the catch. It's only been one (real) game but Maclin seems like he has added another dimension to the Chiefs offense. We shall see if that continues against a strong secondary like the Broncos.
3) Travis Kelce looked pretty darn good in week one. Why did he have so much success? Scheme or talent or both?
Arrowhead Pride: A little bit of everything, with a big emphasis on Kelce just being a darn good player. He's big (6'5) and is football smart (his brother is in the NFL) so he understands things like using his leverage to make the catch. He's oddly elusive for his size which allows him to catch a critical third down pass against the Texans and juke a defender for the first down and help secure the win. You wouldn't think it but Kelce is one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL which gives him some adder versatility. On top of that, Alex Smith throws to his tight ends quite a bit and Andy Reid's tight ends have historically had good numbers. It's kind of a perfect storm for the Chiefs and Kelce.
4) Can you tell us about a relatively unknown player who has really impressed through the preseason that we should know about?
Arrowhead Pride: I'll give you two and they play a couple of important positions: LT Donald Stephenson and RT Jah Reid. I don't know yet if Eric Fisher will be playing (he's injured, I think). Stephenson is a better LT than RT so he made the switch the week before the season. Jah Reid was signed on the Monday before the Chiefs first game and did an admirable job against JJ Watt and the Texans last week. He had plenty of help and his grades weren't all that high but given the context of us expecting Fisher's absence to screw the Chiefs he did a good job. Those two will be tasked with stopping your pass rushers so you can expect plenty of help and quick passes to avoid those two ruining the game for KC.
5) KC has the best set up it has ever had to beat Denver: Week 2 Thursday night game at home. We have no serious film on your team this year. We have only four days to prep and have to travel. The offense is still putting the pieces together after a regime change in coaching. How big is this game for your team long term and how big is it for your fan base?
Arrowhead Pride: The Chiefs are 0-6 against the Peyton Manning-led Broncos, there are AFC West title hopes and it's a prime-time game at Arrowhead. It's a big game. That said, it doesn't feel quite as big as, say, that 2013 game when the Chiefs came in unbeaten. Don't get me wrong though, it's a huge game because the Chiefs haven't beaten Manning.
You gotta understand, the Chiefs problems with Manning go back to January 2004 and January 2007 when his team knocked the Chiefs out of the playoffs. It's the Broncos, yes, but it's also Manning. A win would mean that no Broncos fans should stop by Arrowhead Pride, because I feel like there would be a liiiiitle bit of trash talking. The Broncos have earned their right to talk the last few years so the Chiefs want their shot, too.
Thanks for the time Joel! This series has to be one of my favorites that we do because I trust the guys from the SB Nation blogs more than the talking heads in the MSM. You guys know your team so who better to get the gritty deets from.
Cheers to an injury free game and may the best team win!
Here's the link to their post as well in case you guys want to go check out my responses to their questions. As always, please represent MHR well. Keep the trash talking good natured and if that is too difficult, just read the article and skip the comment section. :)