What Happened Last Year?
Last year, the Kansas City Chiefs had successful season in the eyes of many. They were the underdogs in the AFC West, but they won the division, clinching a first round bye. This hasn’t happened for the team since 2003, so that was a massive success. An important thing to note is that the AFC West was no easy passage to the playoffs, but the Chiefs went undefeated in the division, which is astonishing. Another positive was the 2016 rookies for the Chiefs. Tyreek Hill and Chris Jones emerged in big ways, providing much needed help on both sides of the ball. Despite what many fans say, Alex Smith played well too. He began to show a bit more confidence throwing down the field, but hey, I would too if I had Tyreek Hill blazing down the field. Despite all of the successes the Chiefs accumulated, there were a few disappointments. To start off, the biggest stab in the heart was the loss to Pittsburgh in the AFC Divisional Playoff at Arrowhead. Not only was it a loss, but it was a horrendous, embarrassing loss. The Steelers defeated the Chiefs without scoring a single touchdown. Yeah, enough said there. Another failure last year was the inability to stay healthy, especially in the defense. Most notably, Justin Houston played in only 4 games due to his health, Tamba Hali was injured off and on, Dontari Poe had injury issues and struggled, Derrick Johnson went down with another ruptured achilles and a few guys in the secondary were hurt. In a nutshell, the Chiefs overcame the odds in the regular season, flashing explosion on both sides of the game, but were a victim of yet another playoff loss and injuries. Moving forward, lets take a look at their offseason acquisitions and losses.
Major Acquisitions: Patrick Mahomes II (QB), Kareem Hunt (RB), Bennie Logan (NT)
In terms of free agency, the Chiefs had a relatively quiet one. This would normally not bode well for me, seeing as I’m a Chiefs fan, but they really didn’t have that many needs. The most noise they made was in the 2017 NFL Draft, in which they made PLENTY of noise. Foremost, they traded up an astounding 17 picks to select Patrick Mahomes II out of Texas Tech. I was not happy about the decision to move up 17 spots for Mahomes, but I like the talent. It’s no secret the Chiefs want to progress at the QB position, and Mahomes offers a ton of upside. Lastly, the Chiefs picked up RB Kareem Hunt out of Toledo in the third round, providing tremendous value. Hunt was astonishing at Toledo and could work his way into a major role in this offense.
Major Losses: Jeremy Maclin (WR), Jamaal Charles, Dontari Poe (NT), John Dorsey (GM)
Lets start off with the one that will have the least effect on the team, but still hurts our hearts, Jamaal Charles. This guy is a Chiefs legend and dynamic playmaker, but he couldn’t manage to stay healthy, so it was time for him to go. Heart-breaker. Another loss that wasn’t surprising was Dontari Poe, who also struggled with injury. He was also a great player for the team and could be for Atlanta, but injuries to his back caused him to struggle when he was on the field. Jeremy Maclin was cut very late in the offseason, stunning many. I thought they were going to cut him, but not so late. Maclin couldn’t stay on the field in 2016, and they cut him to free up cap space. He was undoubtedly a presence in the locker room and to his young receiving group. General Manager John Dorsey was also let go, both confusing and shocking the Chiefs Kingdom. There had been rumours and some noise, but late in the offseason when nobody expected it, he was cut. Some say it was due to disorganization, but who knows the effect it will have.
2017 Schedule Predictions
Can Kansas City have the success they did last year? The AFC West looks even more menacing this time around.
Week 1: @New England Patriots: L (0-1)
I hate starting the Chiefs off 0-1, but I think the Patriots will be the better team week 1. The Pats defense in combination with their explosive offense will be too much to overcome.
Week 2: Home vs. Philadelphia Eagles: W (1-1)
The Chiefs take it back to Arrowhead and defeat the tough Eagles in a close game. The defense picks off Wentz a couple of times.
Week 3: @LA Chargers: W (2-1)
Had the Chargers not sustained injuries to their top rookies, the outcome may have been different. The pass rush gets to Rivers, forcing him to make mistakes.
Week 4: Home vs. Washington Redskins: W (3-1)
The Chiefs take down Cousins and the Redskins. The Redskins fail to stop the explosive playmakers on the Chiefs offense.
Week 5: @Houston Texans: W (4-1)
The Chiefs are on a roll, winning 4 straight games. The lack of experience at the helm of the Texans loses them the game. Low scoring.
Week 6: Home vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: L (4-2)
The Three B’s take down the Chiefs at home. Pittsburgh’s elite offense overwhelms even the stout defense of the Chiefs.
Week 7: @Oakland Raiders: L (4-3)
KC loses a second game in a row. The game is close, but the Raiders have home field advantage.
Week 8: Home vs. Denver Broncos: W (5-3)
Houston goes off on Denver again, piling up 3 sacks. The lack of scoring for Denver results in the loss.
Week 9: @Dallas Cowboys: W (6-3)
In a close game, KC takes down the Dallas at home, stunning. The Cowboys can’t hide their holes on defense.
Week 10: Bye
Week 11: @New York Giants: L (6-4)
Even with Eli throwing two picks, the Chiefs can’t win the game. Smith struggles against the elite secondary.
Week 12: Home vs. Buffalo Bills: W (7-4)
The Chiefs rebound with an easy win at home. McCoy rushes all over the defense, but they struggle to score in the red zone.
Week 13: @New York Jets: W (8-4)
Chiefs win. Easily.
Week 14: Home vs. Oakland Raiders: L (8-5)
The Raiders win in a close game and upset them at home. Chiefs now on pace for the wild card.
Week 15: Home vs. LA Chargers: W (9-5)
KC claims this one at home. Not very close. Chiefs still hoping they can the division.
Week 16: Home vs. Miami Dolphins: W (10-5)
Miami continues to struggle without a good quarterback. The Chiefs win easy at Arrowhead.
Week 17: @Denver Broncos: L (10-6)
In a close game, Denver spoils the Chiefs. They split the series. Chiefs claim the wildcard.
Another Year, Another Playoff
I predict that the Kansas City Chiefs will go 10-6 this year and clinch a wildcard spot at the very least. I believe the playmakers on the offense will continue to progress this season, proving a much needed boost on that side of the ball. Alex Smith could perform a few steps ahead of what he did last year due to increased confidence. I also think that Justin Houston will play at least 12 games this year, which will be key in paving their way to the playoffs. The pass rush as a whole should benefit for his presence. Another key factor set to improve in 2017 is the offensive line. They were solid last year, but with another year of experience, they should easily solidify themselves as a top 10 unit. Now, I am a Chiefs fan, so there may be some bias, but with bias comes knowledge on my part. I can say that the Chiefs could do worse than 10-6 due to more injury, but I can’t predict them going any worse than 9-7. They are one of the most well-rounded franchises in the league right now, with very few weaknesses. They could go 11-5, but I doubt that. The AFC West is too tough.
Travis Kelce: 90 receptions/1,200 yards/6 touchdowns
Tyreek Hill: 85 receptions/900 receiving yards/7 touchdowns/250 rush yards/3 touchdowns
Spencer Ware: 1,150 rushing yards/7 touchdowns/40 receptions/400 receiving yards/3 touchdowns
Alex Smith: 3,700 yards/20 touchdowns/8 int
Sleepers: Chris Conley, Kareem Hunt