Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs (-3, 35.5 O/U)
Two teams with grand plans for the 2016 season will meet in Week 1 of the NFL’s always entertaining preseason as the Seattle Seahawks travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium this afternoon (4:30 PM Eastern).
Did the italics sufficiently communicate my sarcasm? The NFL’s exhibition slate is only four weeks long, but it can feel a lot longer as we’re relegated to watching third-stringers battle it out for spots way down the depth chart.
Today’s game is going to be a little different than most preseason matchups, though, as least for Seahawk fans. The team elected to part company with stable backup QB Tarvaris Jackson and will roll with rookie Trevone Boykin (TCU) as Russell Wilson’s understudy. Given how important a decent backup has proven to be over the last few years (compare Dallas’ debacle of a 2015 with the Colts’, who went 5-3 after veteran Matt Hasselbeck took over for an injured Andrew Luck), the Seattle faithful will want to see Boykin prove he belongs.
The Seahawks come into the game relatively healthy and should have something approaching their first-team offense on the field for a series or two. Thomas Rawls and Jimmy Graham recently returned from the PUP list, and Wilson is good to go.
The same can’t be said for the Chiefs on either side of the ball. Edge rushers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali and running back Jamaal Charles are just a couple of the KC starters who will be in plain clothes. The health of Charles will be a big talking point in Missouri leading up to the regular season. The team’s biggest offensive weapon missed the majority of last year with an ACL tear. Some running backs never really recover from such a devastating injury, while others run for 2,000-plus yards.
If they lose Charles’ big-play ability at any point this season, head coach Andy Reid may look to rookie WR Tyreek Hill for explosive plays. The controversial pick has apparently demonstrated peerless athleticism in camp. It will be up to Reid to figure out how to utilize it.
The QB situation is also an interesting one for KC. The Chiefs have the reliable Alex Smith locked in as their starter, but lost backup Chase Daniel in free agency and recently brought in ex-Eagle (and former Andy Reid draft pick) Nick Foles to battle for the backup spot.
Foles will have a bunch of pups nipping at his heels. SEC fans will be well acquainted with the names Tyler Bray (Tennessee) and Aaron Murray (Georgia), while those on the left coast remember Kevin Hogan as the unlucky guy who had to take over from Andrew Luck at Stanford. All three are looking for a spot on the Chiefs’ opening day roster, but there’s room for one, at most.
If you’re looking to bet this game, my advice is to roll with the Chiefs at home. Seattle’s offense will be led by a rookie for most of the game. The Chiefs will probably have a combination of Smith/Foles (two seasoned vets) under center for a decent chunk of the game. That’s enough for me.
Pick: Chiefs (-3).
Photo credit: Mike Morris (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.