Kansas City and Cleveland are typical Midwestern sports towns. The former is renowned for barbecue-scented trails greeting the team buses as they turn into Arrowhead's parking lot, the latter invokes a snapshot of the Dawg Pound's collective breath visibly outlined in brisk fall air.
Romeo Crennel has witnessed the respective franchises at their deepest lows and highest peaks. The now-senior citizen has watched molehills evolve into mountains and vice versa.
After a disheartening and injury-riddled 2011 season, the Kansas City Chiefs will attempt to revert to their 2010 playoff form.
On a weekly basis, NFL head coaches attempt to solve puzzles. It's a game of riddles.
With that being said, here are five reasons proving that this old "Dawg" will teach new tricks in 2012.
Kansas City's 2012 NFL schedule is relatively favorable.
In fact, according to ESPN, the team's strength of schedule falls in a four-way tie for 20th place in the league.
Along with the predetermined divisional rivalries, the Chiefs will clash against the NFC South and AFC North in 2012.
The accumulated winning percentage of the Chiefs' adversaries is .492.
In other words, if the past is indicative of the future, Kansas City's vertical threat will take advantage of an inviting horizon.
While some Arrowhead dwellers possessed tunnel vision throughout a gloomy 2011 season, Romeo Crennel's three-game interim stint provided a glimmer of hope.
A convincing performance against the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers highlighted Crennel's brief audition. The Kansas City players left as victors, with their heads held high. Meanwhile, their head coach acquired a résumé builder for the ages.
The Chiefs finished 2-1 during the defensive guru's trial, only faltering in overtime to Oakland due to two blocked field goals.
Players, including pass-rushing phenom Tamba Hali, were endorsing his potential hiring.
The seal of approval may have materialized after a season-punctuating victory over division champions Denver.
Romeo Crennel wasn't initially recruited by GM Scott Pioli with the intention of appointing him head coach; he was sought-after for his defensive prowess.
The year before Crennel booked a one-way trip to the City of Fountains, Kansas City's defense finished in 30th in yards allowed and 29th in points given.
Schemes were broken and players were thinking post-snap, as opposed to reacting. The defense was a breather for the offense; a minefield of exploits.
However, throughout his first two seasons as Kansas City's defensive coordinator, Crennel induced a theme of gradual progression.
Tamba Hali is considered a perennial All-Pro, while Derrick Johnson was elected to his first in 2011.
Eric Berry—before missing the virtual entirety of last season—also made the Pro Bowl following an eye-popping rookie campaign.
Fellow defensive back Brandon Flowers is on the cusp of achieving such accolades, while rookie Justin Houston finished the season with more sacks than anyone else on the team except Hali.
Last season, a resilient, head-scratching Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos squad won the AFC West. However, Denver (8-8) suffered defeat as many times as it reigned victorious.
If the Broncos complete the previous task in consecutive seasons, it will be due to the laser, rocket arm of Peyton Manning. However, a surgically repaired neck could potentially cause those rockets to misfire.
Denver added another notable contributor to its roster by signing Tracy Porter, but it also lost the likes of WR Eddie Royal, backup QB Brady Quinn (which could prove costly if Manning succumbs to injury) and fan favorite Tim Tebow.
Willis McGahee will celebrate his 31st birthday during the season, which usually signifies a running back's spiraling decadence. The most pivotal loss, however, occurred with Brian Dawkins' retirement.
Yes, the Broncos found their offensive leader's replacement, but filling the void left by the defensive equivalent may be trickier.
For the first time in recent memory, the San Diego Chargers are also surrounded by question marks.
Coming into 2011, Philip Rivers—a perennial Pro Bowler—was primed to embark upon another signature journey, complete with mistake-free decisions and a 100-plus quarterback rating. However, defensive gurus rewrote the script to the movie that fans had grown accustomed to seeing.
Rivers posted a career-high amount of turnovers, headlined by 20 interceptions and seven fumbles. Offseason acquisitions have since bolstered the depth chart, but the losses of WR Vincent Jackson and RB Mike Tolbert are crushing.
Elsewhere, the word "risk" has become synonymous with the Oakland Raiders. The franchise gambled away this season's first-round pick, along with a second-round choice next year, in exchange for 32-year-old Carson Palmer.
The reward was three more interceptions than touchdowns throughout 10 contests.
If history repeats itself and Kansas City's top divisional competition records eight wins, Crennel will likely avoid a tragic ending in 2012.
The 2010 season was the dawning of another decade that offered a glimpse into a scintillating new era of Chiefs football.
Jamaal Charles became one of just two running backs (along with Jim Brown) in NFL history to rush for 1,400 yards while averaging at least 6.3 yards per carry in a single season.
Rookie safety Eric Berry earned All-Pro honors with smelling-salts-approved hits.
The three shared a common theme in surgically dissecting opponents two seasons ago.
In 2011, the trio were surgically operated on after suffering season-ending ACL tears.
What's more, the aforementioned events were just the foreword in Kansas City's tale of (missed) time.
Following a locker-room scuffle, promising first-round pick Jonathan Baldwin became a spectator for the first six weeks.
Quarterback Matt Cassel was also eventually sidelined for six starts with a hand injury.
His replacement, Kyle Orton, received one snap before beelining for the bench with a dislocated finger.
Injuries will plague the NFL for as long as nimbus clouds drape Seattle's skyline; surgeries didn't just rain on Kansas City's parade, they flooded the floats before it premiered.
The odds of the Chiefs encountering another injury bug with an Anthony Bourdain-sized appetite are slim.
Despite the overwhelming plethora of MRIs in 2011, Kansas City only finished one game out of first place in the AFC West.
Most rationalists would conclude that a healthier roster would have led to the Chiefs reclaiming their divisional throne.
The cornerstone of Kansas City's youthful foundation will be its defensive presence.
Conventional wisdom proclaims that defense wins titles, and Romeo Crennel's five championships give a ringing endorsement.