Kansas City Chiefs Predictions
The Kansas City Chiefs came out of nowhere to win the AFC West in 2010 with a 10-6 record. It was a season of ups and downs in ’11 for the Chiefs. They opened 0-3 before reeling off four straight victories to get right back into playoff contention. They would go 3-6 the rest of the way to finish 7-9, though two of their victories came at Chicago and home against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
Todd Haley was fired after a blowout 10-37 loss to the New York Jets, leaving defensive coordinator Romero Crennel to serve as interim head coach for the final three games. They would win two of those three with their only loss coming in overtime against Oakland. Crennel, who was the head coach at Cleveland from ’05-’08, has been named the head man for ’12. Here is a look at the personnel he’ll be working with on offense and defense, as well as my prediction on where Kansas City finishes in the AFC West.
The Chiefs struggled mightily on offense last season due to injuries to QB Matt Cassel and RB Jamaal Charles. They put up a mere 13.2 points and 311 total yards per game. With a healthy return of Cassel and Charles, I look for them to post much better numbers in ’12.
Cassel got off to a slow start last year, but he had turned things around before going out for the season with a broken hand against Denver. He completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 1,713 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. Kansas City would not get stable QB play the rest of the way as its experiments with Tyler Palko and Kyle Orton did not work. Cassel returns healthy and will be backed up by former Denver QB Brady Quinn.
Charles rushed for 1,467 yards with Kansas City in ’10, but he saw his season come to an end in Week 2 with a torn ACL against Detroit. He returns healthy, and the Chiefs have added RB Peyton Hillis (587 yards, three TD) from the Cleveland Browns to give them a solid 1-2 punch. Hillis battled a hamstring injury last year, but he is also expected to be healthy. Dexter McCluster (516 yards, 4.5/carry, 46 receptions, 328 yards, two total TD) also figures to get his fair share of touches in his hybrid RB/WR role.
Kansas City has struggled to find production from its receiving corps for years. The Chiefs believe they have the right guys in place now with Dwayne Bowe (81 receptions, 1,159 yards, five TD), Steve Breaston (61, 785, two TD) and Jon Baldwin (21, 254, one TD) manning the receiver positions. TE Tony Moeaki returns healthy after missing all of last year with a torn ACL suffered in the preseason. They have also added Kevin Boss from Oakland, which will allow them to run two TE sets similar to New England.
The offensive line took a step back last season, but a lot of that was due to the injuries of Cassel and Charles. LT Branden Albert finally has a solid RT opposite him in Eric Winston, who was let go by the Houston Texans prior to the draft. LG Ryan Lilja and RG Jon Asamoah resume their starting roles, while second-year C Rodney Hudson replaces the retired Casey Wiegmann. This will be an improved unit in ’12.
The Chiefs held their own defensively last season under the guidance of Crennel. They gave up a respectable 21.1 points and 333 total yards per game, ranking in the top half of the league in both statistical categories.
They feature a young defensive line that is steadily improving. DE Tyson Jackson (55 tackles, 5 for loss) and DE Glenn Dorsey (62 tackles, 2 for loss) are both coming off breakout ’11 seasons, but each needs to show more as a pass-rusher. The Chiefs used their first-round pick on NT Dontari Poe (Memphis), who is expected to start right away.
Kansas City boasts a solid linebacker corps that ranks right up there with the league’s elite. LOLB Justin Houston (56 tackles, 6 for loss, 5.5 sacks) had a great rookie year and figures to be one top guys in the game for years to come. LILB Javon Belcher (87 tackles, 2.5 for loss) and RILB Derrick Johnson (131 tackles, 10 for loss, 11 passes defended) are forces inside. ROLB Tama Hali (66 tackles, 12 sacks) is one of the best in the business at getting after the quarterback.
The secondary may be the most improved unit on the entire team. Star CB Brandon Flowers (59 tackles, 20 pass break-ups, four INT) returns, and the Chiefs signed CB Stanford Routt (49 tackles, 15 pass break-ups, four INT) from the Oakland Raiders this offseason. SS Eric Berry (92 tackles, 13 passes defended in ’10) returns healthy after missing all of ’11 with a torn ACL. FS Kenrick Lewis (60 tackles, 10 pass break-ups, three INT) enters his third year in the league and has already proven he belongs.
AFC West Prediction – 3rd Place (9-7 Record)
The Chiefs have a lot of factors pointing upwards heading into ’12. They get a healthy return of Cassel, Charles and Berry, who are clearly three of their best players. They get to face both Buffalo and Indianapolis due to finishing last in the AFC West a year ago. With the easiest schedule in the division, there’s no question Kansas City should improve on its seven-win total from ’11. However, both the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers will be improved this season, which will make it tough for the Chiefs to take the division. I have them contending for a division title right up until the final few weeks of the season. But they play three of their final four games on the road, including a Week 17 visit to Denver, which could decide the AFC West title.
Individual Team NFL Season Predictions
|AFC West||AFC North||AFC South||AFC East|
|Kansas City Chiefs Predictions||Pittsburgh Steelers||Indianapolis Colts||New England Patriots|
|San Diego Chargers||Baltimore Ravens||Jacksonville Jaguars||New York Jets|
|Oakland Raiders||Cleveland Browns||Houston Texans||Miami Dolphins|
|Denver Broncos||Cincinnati Bengals||Tennessee Titans||Buffalo Bills|
|NFC West||NFC North||NFC South||NFC East|
|Seattle Seahawks||Chicago Bears||Atlanta Falcons||Philadelphia Eagles|
|St. Louis Rams||Green Bay Packers||New Orleans Saints||New York Giants|
|San Francisco 49ers||Detroit Lions||Tampa Bay Bucs||Dallas Cowboys|
|Arizona Cardinals||Minnesota Vikings||Carolina Panthers||Washington Redskins|