Kansas City Chiefs: 4 Players with a Chance to Be Named NFL MVP in 2012
The 2012 season sets up very favorably for the Kansas City Chiefs. General manager Scott Pioli is coming off his best offseason yet, and the schedule (on paper) looks manageable, to say the least.
Although the games must be played to obtain the end results, the feeling around Kansas City is that this season could finally be the turning point, the one that ends an almost two-decade drought since the team’s last playoff victory.
In addition to the new faces brought in through free agency and the draft, the Chiefs will also be returning running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki from injuries (all three missed the majority, if not all, of the 2011 season with torn ACLs).
Up and down their roster, you will find All-Pro caliber players, along with others who know exactly what their role is within the system. But in order for the Chiefs to be considered Super Bowl contenders, certain players will need to perform at an MVP level.
Here are four Chiefs with a chance to be named NFL MVP in 2012.
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Jamaal Charles will be returning from a torn ACL he suffered in a 48-3 blowout loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 2 last season, meaning new head coach Romeo Crennel might be more liable to ease him back into live game action. But that is no different than how he has been used his entire career to this point anyway.
With a more reliable option out of the backfield (Peyton Hillis) to help shoulder the load, look for Charles to still see his usual 15 touches a game. Fans might want to see more, but if his 2010 season is the barometer (230 carries for 1,467 yards and five touchdowns), this might not be such a bad thing.
Although those numbers don’t exactly scream MVP at you, an improved offensive line and less pressure to make up for the lack of production elsewhere could indicate a slight uptick and Charles’ name being mentioned in MVP talks.
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When you think of the defense for the Kansas City Chiefs, the first name that comes to mind is that of outside linebacker Tamba Hali.
Although the Chiefs’ defense has been inconsistent over the past few seasons, signs of life began to show after Romeo Crennel took over as interim head coach for the final three games of the season. The team only allowed 33 points during that stretch, going 2-1 in the process.
Since the Chiefs converted to a 3-4 defense prior to the 2009 season, Hali has tallied 35 sacks and 12 forced fumbles. With a full year of Crennel running the show and an improving defense around him, including rookie nose tackle Dontari Poe creating a more consistent push in the trenches, Hali is in position to finally be thought of as an elite pass-rusher.
Though defenders are rarely considered for league MVP (Lawrence Taylor in 1986 was the last to win the honor), it would be hard to ignore the premier player on a team that is poised to have a breakout season.
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Although Dwayne Bowe has produced consistently for the Kansas City Chiefs since being drafted into the league in 2007, his 2010 season came as a shock to everyone, hauling in 72 passes for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns.
While that season seemed to be a perfect storm for the entire Chiefs team, the 2012 season is looking very similar in many aspects.
With an improved cast around him, Bowe no longer has to shoulder the entire load as the Chiefs' primary pass-catching target. Jon Baldwin is primed for a breakout season as well, which will only open up more opportunities for Bowe.
If Bowe heads into the 2012 season only having signed the franchise tender and still playing for a long-term deal, his motivation to perform could mean a repeat or better of his 2010 output, resulting in a huge payday and possible league MVP consideration.
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Although not their best player by any means, quarterback Matt Cassel is the single most important dynamic if the Kansas City Chiefs are to meet their lofty expectations heading into the 2012 season.
His time with the Chiefs has been inconsistent at best, but if the Chiefs are indeed to take it to the next level, Cassel simply needs to manage games similar to the way he did in 2010 (3,116 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions in 15 games).
Wide receivers Jon Baldwin and Steve Breaston, and tight end Kevin Boss, weren’t with the Chiefs that season, so it isn’t a stretch to imagine Cassel outperforming his 2010 totals.
If the Chiefs are to capitalize on their opportunity in 2012, Cassel will be given the most credit, which will help change people’s minds around Kansas City and catapult him into MVP talks.