The Kansas City Chiefs, renowned for their high-decibel fans and enviable home-field advantage, are about to play their strangest ”home” game in team history – in front of 84,000 mostly English spectators 4,300 miles (7,000 kilometers) from Arrowhead Stadium. Sunday’s Wembley Stadium matchup with the Detroit Lions (1-6) marks the latest chapter in the NFL’s ambitious effort to build a popular British base for American football, and for the Chiefs (2-5) it will be their first regular-season game played on foreign soil. Coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith vowed to ensure that the sacrifice of a real home game wouldn’t cost the Chiefs a win against Detroit, another star-studded team on paper that has failed to meet high preseason expectations.
After a 1-6 start, Jim Caldwell still thinks the Detroit Lions have a chance to salvage their season. The next step in that epic quest, with a new offensive coordinator calling the plays, will be on Sunday when the Lions face the Kansas City Chiefs (2-5) at Wembley Stadium – Detroit’s second straight year playing a regular-season game on the east side of the Atlantic. ”It’s been done before, where teams turned around,” Caldwell said Friday at the team’s practice facility.
By now, Charles Woodson should be spending Sundays in a television studio over-laughing with everyone else on the NFL pregame show of his choosing. The NFL isn’t built for 39-year-old men like Woodson to still be elite defensive backs. Heck, you’re pushing it at 30. It’s a young man’s game, and defensive back is one of the positions that is truly ruled by young men. Only five defensive backs have ever made the Pro Bowl after age 35 (Brian Dawkins, Darrell Green, Rod Woodson, Jimmy Johnson and John Lynch … quite a list ). A Pro Bowl at age 39? Ha, good one. That list is zero, of course. Woodson might be the first one to do it. He was just named the AFC defensive player of the month for October. That is one of the most ridiculous accomplishments in the NFL this season, or for the past few seasons. Do you know how many defensive backs who are 35 or older have simply played at least one NFL game this season? Three. Detroit Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis, who is 35, Minnesota Vikings cornerback Terence Newman, who is 37, and Woodson ( h/t to Pro Football Reference ). That’s it. So the oldest defensive back in the NFL — and only one other player is within four years of him — was the best defensive back in the AFC in October. That’s unbelievable.
Perhaps even more so than the 2016 NFL prospects themselves, the 32 NFL teams’ needs right now are very much up in the air. There are a number of extenuating factors: Will there be a coaching or front-office change? Which players will come or go in free agency? Will there be injuries to change the situation entering the draft? [ Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: First place wins $100K in our $600K contest for Week 8 ] Still, we have an idea of which pressing needs could be addressed by teams at some point in this coming offseason — via trades, free agency or, yes, the draft — regardless of any other changes. One common theme has emerged: Quarterbacks and offensive linemen will be in high demand, even if the draft supply won’t match that need. That could help push up, say, Michigan State’s Connor Cook into a top-10 pick and force a run on offensive linemen in Round 1 that perhaps belies the talent at both positions. Here’s our team-by-team look at how the needs stand, in order, with perhaps a bit more of a lean toward potential position targets in the draft. Team Need 1 Need 2 Need 3 Skinny Detroit Lions OL CB DL Both lines of scrimmage and secondary could use some new blood. Baltimore Ravens DB pass rusher WR Which is in worse shape: the pass rush or the coverage? Both bad. Tennessee Titans OL S LB Could also be in the mix for a running back, depending on David Cobb’s play. Cleveland Browns QB WR DE We’ll assume that they overlook a receiver, but finding a QB is crucial. Houston Texans QB RB S Would be stunning to see them pass another QB in Round 1 again. Jacksonville Jaguars OL CB LB Almost certainly will help Blake Bortles with better blocking talent early. San Francisco 49ers OL QB WR All of this, of course, depends on what they do with Colin Kaepernick. San Diego Chargers OL pass rusher S The third need is assuming that Eric Weddle walks in free agency. Kansas City Chiefs OL DL WR You could add QB to the list, but we think they’ll fortify up front first. Tampa Bay Buccaneers OL pass rusher WR Jameis Winston needs more help, and he’s almost sure to receive some. Chicago Bears OL QB CB Defense actually needs lots of help, but hard to pass up on right QB. Dallas Cowboys RB DT QB Loss of DeMarco Murray, injury to Tony Romo exposed major depth issues. Buffalo Bills LB S OL This defense should be better; the O-line needs a little fine-tuning. Washington Redskins QB S OL Look for Scot McCloughan to continue building a tougher, stronger roster. New Orleans Saints CB WR pass rusher Don’t overlook wide receiver as a top target position in the spring. Seattle Seahawks OL DT CB Russell Okung might be cut, making this a major concern for Russel Wilson’s health. Philadelphia Eagles OL QB pass rusher Top two needs happen to be two spots Chip Kelly might ignore again. Miami Dolphins OL DL CB Both lines could use a little more youth, but need bigger on offense. Oakland Raiders CB S LB Will be big players in free agency, so needs could change dramatically. St. Louis Rams WR OL DE More likely they’d look for a receiver than OL help in draft. Pittsburgh Steelers CB TE QB Missed on 2015 help with two cornerback draft picks. Minnesota Vikings OL LB WR Depth up front was slaughtered early in the season by injuries. New York Jets pass rusher TE OL More pass-rush help would make a great defense even better. Atlanta Falcons LB DL TE Still need more front-seven snarl to build Dan Quinn-style defense. Indianapolis Colts OL DL pass rusher Simply put, this team is not nearly good enough in the trenches. New York Giants pass rusher S CB Defense needs a facelift to help slow down quality passing games. Arizona Cardinals pass rusher LB OL More fine tuning, but this startling lineup just could use a few small upgrades. Denver Broncos OL QB RB Offensive makeover will continue with or without Peyton in Gary Kubiak’s eye. Cincinnati Bengals LB OL WR Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu both in contract seasons, which makes it a need. Green Bay Packers pass rusher DL OL Ted Thompson takes the best player, and it has borne good results overall. Carolina Panthers CB OL S Age in secondary, Josh Norman’s free-agent status are concerning. New England Panthers CB LB RB Corner appears by far the biggest need, but they’re without a first-rounder. – – – – – – – Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
The Detroit Lions take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Wembley Stadium on Sunday – the last of three games in the 2015/16 International Series. It will be the 14th regular-season NFL game to be hosted in the UK. Simon Milham take an in-depth look at the match-up.
For kicker Matt Prater, London is the city of second chances. On Sunday, he’ll be hoping the magic can rub off on the rest of the Detroit Lions as they try to rebound from a disappointing 1-6 start. Prater helped the Lions beat the Atlanta Falcons 22-21 last year at Wembley Stadium after missing a 43-yard field goal wide right – and getting a makeover because his own team let the 30-second play clock expire.