Their first five games see them take on the Atlanta Falcons at home and the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints on the road, before returning home to host the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens.
If the Chiefs were to get through that part of the schedule avoiding any serious injuries and having won at least two games, there is a strong possibility that another AFC West Championship would be on the horizon.
Luckily for the Chiefs, two of those first five games just got a bit easier.
Yesterday, Roger Goodell and the NFL came down on the players believed to be directly involved with Bounty-Gate—the New Orleans Saints’ bounty system under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
How does that affect the Chiefs?
In addition to head coach Sean Payton being suspended for the entire 2012 season and assistant coach Joe Vitt (tabbed as the interim head coach) being suspended for the first six games, the Chiefs have the luxury of facing a Saints defense without its leader in Vilma and its main pass-rushing threat in Smith.
Although the game with the Saints is on the road, a revamped and healthy Chiefs offense should be able to take advantage. This doesn’t even factor in that Drew Brees has yet to sign a long-term deal or his franchise tender.
That being said, it would be hard to believe he won’t be in a Saints uniform come September.
Also making life easier for the Chiefs is the news this morning that Ravens linebacker and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs will miss the entire 2012 season after tearing his Achilles tendon while playing basketball.
Although the Ravens selected Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw in the draft, replacing Suggs’ 14 sacks and seven forced fumbles will be no easy task. The Ravens finished 2011 with the league’s third best defense, a ranking sure to be affected by the loss.
Predicting victories for these two tough games would be irrational, but to say the loss of these players won’t negatively affect their respective teams would be just as illogical. The Chiefs have an opportunity to take advantage of an even softer schedule, which should help them forget about their chaotic 2011 season.