Who is on the hottest seat in the AFC West?
Jeff Legwold, Denver Broncos reporter: The hottest seats in this division have been created by ownership decisions. The Raiders and the Chargers will be moving to new stadiums, but the openings of both venues are years away.
The current head coaches and general managers will have to perform well enough to still have their respective jobs when the new digs are ready; plenty of owners see new stadiums as a potential honeymoon, and if things aren't right, they often try to go for the big-splash hires at that point. That could be particularly true for the Raiders, who are due to play at least this season in the city they're leaving.
Any owner who has moved a franchise wants everything to be just right when the new stadium is ready. Such moves are typically years in the making, but "official" arrival isn't complete until the new stadium is done. That's the date to circle on the calendar if you work on the football side of things. Owners don't fire themselves, and there will be plenty of season tickets, suites, broadcast rights and signage that need to be sold ahead of the new arena's debut. There is always pressure to win, but a new stadium has an owner looking hard not only at the bottom line but at how much attention the team has grabbed.
Adam Teicher, Kansas City Chiefs reporter: The Chiefs put Alex Smith on notice in April when they not only drafted quarterback Patrick Mahomes II but also traded next year's first-round pick for the chance to do so. The Chiefs have a lot invested in Mahomes, and it's only a matter of time before he's their starting quarterback. That time is unlikely to come this season, however, as the Chiefs seem determined to gives Mahomes as much developmental time as he needs. So Smith, 33, has at least another season as the starter, meaning he controls part of this narrative. If he ups his game, the Chiefs will have a difficult time moving him out of the starting spot in 2018. But if Smith doesn't find a way to help Kansas City expand its passing game or take the Chiefs beyond the divisional round of the playoffs, where each of their past two seasons ended, the future of Kansas City's starting spot is more about Mahomes and where he is in his development. The Chiefs would realize a salary-cap savings of $17 million in 2018, the last year of Smith's contract, if he is released. That's another factor in Mahomes' favor.
Eric D. Williams, Los Angeles Chargers reporter: Whenever a team drafts a quarterback in the first round, the expectation is he will be on the field sooner rather than later. And with the Chiefs selecting Texas Tech product Mahomes in the first round this year, Smith's days with that team became numbered. Smith has done a nice job managing head coach Andy Reid's offense, but the Chiefs have just one postseason victory over the past four seasons to show for his effort. Mahomes is a more dynamic talent, with an elite arm. But he still needs seasoning, which means Smith will remain Kansas City's quarterback of the present while the Chiefs groom Mahomes as the quarterback of the future.
Paul Gutierrez, Oakland Raiders reporter: Smith has won 11 games in three of his four seasons in Kansas City (eight in the other), and yet he is 1-3 in the playoffs. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft by the San Francisco 49ers is also 33 and might never shed his "game manager" label, though that is not exactly a bad thing, right? Still, the Chiefs used a first-round pick to select Smith's heir apparent, Mahomes. True, it is hard to see Mahomes supplanting Smith this season, but the most popular guy on a team, at least to fans, is almost always the backup quarterback ... particularly when things are going badly and said backup is a high draft pick. Expectations will be high in Kansas City, especially if the Chiefs continue to own the Raiders. So even if the seat under Smith is not blazing, he should be hearing footsteps. The question, then, is this: How will Smith react?