The Kansas City Chiefs are undoubtedly the team to beat during the 2023 season as they are the reigning Super Bowl champions.
AFC teams such as the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals are built to potentially spoil Kansas City’s hopes of back-to-back Super Bowl trips. But former NFL quarterback and NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms thinks an unexpected AFC squad is very close to overthrowing Kansas City as well.
“And to the point of what we’re talking about, how close are the Ravens to being a legit threat to the Chiefs, I think they’re damn close,” Simms said. “Like, a team that when we go through the exercise on a few months where we have to pick a Super Bowl winner in August, I’m going to go this is one of the shortlist teams that I think can be there, or go to the Super Bowl.”
Simms’ comments come after an overall dramatic offseason for Baltimore. But that drama has resulted in an upgraded roster for the Ravens.
After the team signed veteran receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and drafted Zay Flowers in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Baltimore signed quarterback Lamar Jackson to a five-year, $260 million contract that included $185 million in guarantees on May 4.
Adding those receivers to an offense that already has tight end Mark Andrews, receiver Rashod Bateman, and running back J.K. Dobbins means Baltimore is now positioned to have the best set of playmakers around Jackson that he’s ever had since being drafted in 2018. The team also fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman and brought in Todd Monken to call plays, which could give some added juice to Baltimore’s offense as well.
Are Ravens a Legitimate Threat to Chiefs
Though the Ravens on paper have a roster that can potentially knock off the Chiefs as the top dog in the NFL, Baltimore needs to first prove that the talent they have can gel together into a unit that can play at an elite level consistently.
Patrick Mahomes has done enough up until this point in his career for everyone to know what to expect from him, which is a consistently elite level of quarterback play. Bundle that with other weapons on the roster and head coach Andy Reid, and it’s easy to understand why Mahomes has played in the AFC Championship game every season he’s been the team’s full-time starting quarterback.
Though Lamar Jackson has had spurts of elite play during his NFL career, he has not played at an elite level for the entirety of an NFL season since 2019, whether it was because of the talent around him or injuries. That’s why, despite what Chris Simms thinks, the verdict is still out on the Ravens being legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
If Jackson can stay healthy and be an elite dual-threat quarterback for Baltimore next season, then the Ravens will be a contender in the AFC. But until that happens, the Chiefs are still the team to beat in the AFC.
Chiefs 2023 Free Agency Tracker
Here is a list of the players the Chiefs have signed during free agency thus far (excluding undrafted rookies), along with their contracts according to Over The Cap:
- OT Jawaan Taylor (4 years, $80 million)
- DE Charles Omenihu (2 years, $20 million)
- S Mike Edwards (1 year, $3 million)
- LB Drue Tranquill (1 year, $5 million)
- DT Tershawn Wharton (1 year, $2 million)
- OL Nick Allegretti (1 year, $2.5 million)
- OL Prince Tea Wanogho (tendered)
- TE Jody Fortson (tendered)
- QB Shane Buechele (tendered)
- DT Derrick Nnadi (1 year, $1.2 million)
- TE Blake Bell (1 year, $1.1 million)
- DT Byron Cowart (1 year, $1.08 million)
- DT Phil Hoskins (1 year, $940,000)
- S Deon Bush (1 year, $1.3 million)
- WR Richie James (1 year, $1.2 million)
- WR Justin Watson (2 years, $3.5 million)
- QB Blaine Gabbert (1 year, $1.1 million)
- RB Jerick McKinnon (1 year, $1.16 million)
- OT Donovan Smith (1 year, $3 million)
- OT Sebastian Gutierrez (1 year, $870,000)
- CB Lamar Jackson (1 year, $940,000)
- DT Matt Dickerson (1 year, $1.08 million)
- DT Chris Williams, (1 year, $940,000)
Here are the former Chiefs players that remain free agents:
- DE Frank Clark
- DE Carlos Dunlap
- DT Brandon Williams
- LB Darius Harris