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It was an up and down season for the Kansas City Chiefs last year. The Chiefs started the season 0-3, then won four straight, then lost four straight and went 3-2 in their final five games. After the roller coaster ride the Chiefs finished with a 7-9 record.
Throughout the roller coaster season the Chiefs used Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko and Kyle Orton at quarterback. The Chiefs were doomed as soon as Jamaal Charles was hurt in Week 1 with a torn ACL. Since then the Chiefs struggled to find anything on offense outside of Dwayne Bowe. The Chiefs averaged 13.3 points per game, which ranked 31st in the NFL.
Despite their pitiful offense, the Chiefs' defense was actually pretty good last year. The Chiefs were 11th in the league in average yards allowed per game and surrendered about 21 points per game. Derrick Johnson had one of the best defensive seasons in the league with 131 tackles.
Offense: It is hard to find anything positive to say about the Chiefs' offense last season. The Chiefs essentially played without a quarterback or running back. Cassel threw for only 1,700 yards and ten touchdowns last season. Jackie Battle, Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones all were used to help replace Charles, but the three combined for only three rushing touchdowns the entire season.
The Chiefs' offense does have one thing going for it, and that is Dwayne Bowe. With Cassel, Palko and Orton at quarterback Bowe still managed to catch 81 passes for over 1,100 yards. He had five touchdowns but the Chiefs quarterbacks only managed to throw 13 touchdowns all season. The guy to look out for in Kansas City is Jon Baldwin. Baldwin caught only 21 passes for 254 yards but he will be given the starting job opposite of Bowe and will see his share of targets while defenses focus on Bowe. A productive Baldwin will be essential to the Chiefs' passing attack.
Although the offense will be getting Jamaal Charles back, I don't think his return will be enough to make this a good offense. Cassel and the wide receivers not named Dwayne Bowe are absolutely atrocious. If Jon Baldwin makes some noise, this could be a different story, but Charles could take a few games to get back to his old form (if he ever reaches it), and I don't trust Cassel to do much throwing the ball.
Defense: The Kansas City defense was the team's backbone. Derrick Johnson led the team in tackles, but Tamba Hali, Jovan Belcher and Glenn Dorsey all recorded at least 60 tackles. The Chiefs' secondary was quietly one of the best in the league. The Chiefs were 6th in the league in average passing yards allowed per game. Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr both recorded four interceptions, and Jon McGraw and Kendrick Lewis both had three picks.
The Chiefs will also be getting back safety Eric Berry, who is one of the most talented safeties in the league. Berry tore his ACL in the first game of the season but in his rookie season he had four interceptions and 92 tackles. If Berry can get back to form he will make the Chiefs' secondary one of the scariest in the league.
The Chiefs' defense was also very good at forcing turnovers. The Chiefs, led by Romeo Crennel, forced 26 turnovers last season including 20 interceptions. The Chiefs were also decent at rushing the passer with 34 sacks.
Prediction: The Chiefs will be an interesting team to watch next season. If Charles can get back to his old form then this offense could be competitive. The offense hinges on the play of Matt Cassel, and as of right now, I am unconvinced that he will make it through Week 17 as the starter. Dwayne Bowe always helps, but he will be drawing double teams all game which will make it even harder for Cassel to play well.
The Chiefs defense is pretty darn good. Johnson, Hali and Belcher are very good in the front seven and the Chiefs' secondary is really talented. Although they will be losing Carr and McGraw, they will be getting Berry back and signed cornerback Stanford Routt. Even if Berry does not return to form right away, Flowers is good enough to shutdown most of the wide receivers in the league.
The Chiefs defense will be one of the strongest in the entire league next season, but their offense will be one of the worst. I don't see them improving much on their 13.3 points per game average from last season, and as much as I love their defense, I am forced to give the Chiefs a 5-11 record.