Matt Cassel must stay healthy, and play better, in 2012.
Quick Review of 2011
Offense—No. 25 passing, No. 15 rushing, No. 27 total.
Defense—No. 6 passing, No. 26 rushing, No. 11 total.
The Chiefs 2011 season was truly a year of ups and downs. After a horrible 0-3 start—the first two being humiliating blowouts—the Chiefs rebounded with a four-game winning streak that put them in the heat of the division race.
After finding themselves in the playoff hunt, the toll of losing so many key players caught up. Safety Eric Berry and running back Jamaal Charles essentially missed the entire season and quarterback Matt Cassel missed seven games.
After their four-game winning streak, the Chiefs would lose five of their next six—included were three losses by 27 or more points. It cost head coach Todd Haley his job.
Romeo Crennel was named interim coach and led the team to a 2-1 finish. He was rewarded by having the "interim" tag removed.
Overall, despite being the only team to beat the Packers during the regular season, it was a disappointing year for a team that won the AFC West the previous year.
TE Kevin Boss, S Abram Elam, RB Peyton Hillis, DE Ropati Pitoitua, QB Brady Quinn, G Rich Ranglin, CB Stanford Routt, TE Martin Rucker, LB Leon Williams, OT Eric Winston
How many games will the Chiefs win in 2012?
DT Dontari Poe, G Jeff Allen, OT Donald Stephenson, WR Devon Wylie, CB DeQuan Menzie, RB Cyrus Gray, DT Jerome Long, WR Junior Hemingway
Undrafted Free Agents
WR Josh Bellamy, TE Tim Biere, G Justin Cheadle, RB Nate Eachus, CB Dominique Ellis, S Jean Fanor, CB Chandler Fenner, FB Taylor Gentry, S Tysyn Hartman, LB Dexter Heyman, C Cam Holland, DE Ethan Johnson, WR Brandon Kinnie, WR Zeke Markshausen, S Terrance Parks, K Matt Szymanski, S Neiko Thorpe, WR Aaron Weaver.
RB Jackie Battle, TE Anthony Becht, CB Brandon Carr, WR Keary Colbert, DE Wallace Gilberry, DT Kelly Gregg, RB Thomas Jones, RB LeRon McClain, S Jon McGraw, OT Ryan O'Callaghan, QB Kyle Orton, S Sabby Piscitelli, TE Leonard Pope, OT Barry Richardson, WR Jerheme Urban, C Casey Weigman, LB Demorrio Williams.
Outlook for 2012
Romeo Crennel will get another shot to be a head coach in the NFL. He will have a defense built to win the division.
His offense is what needs work. Not only did the Chiefs finish 27th in total offense, but were 31st in scoring. Quarterback Matt Cassel went from a career year in 2010, 27 touchdowns seven interceptions, to only 10 touchdowns with nine interceptions last year.
Despite not being big spenders in free agency, they did make some quality signings. Kevin Boss, Peyton Hillis, Stanford Routt and Eric Winston should be impact players in 2012.
With the healthy return of Jamaal Charles, and the addition of Peyton Hillis, the Chiefs rushing game should be much better.
However, in a quarterback driven league, especially in the AFC West, Matt Cassel must return to his 2010 form for the Chiefs to win the division.
Sep. 9 Atlanta
Sep. 16 at Buffalo
Sep. 23 at New Orleans
Sep. 30 San Diego
Oct. 7 Baltimore
Oct. 14 at Tampa Bay
Oct. 28 Oakland
Nov. 1 at San Diego
Nov. 12 at Pittsburgh
Nov. 18 Cincinnati
Nov. 25 Denver
Dec. 2 Carolina
Dec. 9 at Cleveland
Dec. 16 at Oakland
Dec. 23 Indianapolis
Dec. 30 at Denver
The Chiefs schedule could be among the league's toughest. The first five games feature three 2011 playoff teams, a division rival and a team that beat them 41-7 last year. There are no "easy" looking stretches at any point, and both prime-time games are on the road.
The Chiefs do have a three-game home stand late in the season, which should definitely be to their advantage.
The Chiefs are a potential division winner. With their running game and defense, they are built for a deep playoff run.
Then again, they are a potential last-place team. That's not to say they're bad. However, the AFC West might be the most competitive division in 2012.
The edge could be the quarterbacks of the division. If that's the case, Matt Cassel must step up and play up to the level of Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. He must prove that he wasn't a one-year wonder in 2010.
The Chiefs might be the hardest team to pick. Even so, with their schedule, and the competition within the division, the Chiefs are probably looking at another 7-9 season.