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The Kansas City Chiefs schedule actually sets up quite nicely; finishing fourth place in the AFC West last season affords them a fourth-place schedule.
While no game is a sure thing in the NFL and looking past any opponent often yields heartbreak, there are a few must-win games on the Chiefs slate in 2012 if they are to win the AFC West.
Obviously, all six inter-divisional games with the Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders hold major importance. Taking care of business at home and taking two more on the road within the division would give the Chiefs a leg-up in the AFC West.
It is also imperative that the Chiefs do not stumble out of the gate similar to last season by losing to the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions by a combined score of 89-10.
The Atlanta Falcons will be a handful at Arrowhead Stadium in the season opener. The Chiefs must come out strong and prove that the high expectations entering this season actually have substance.
Kansas City also must demonstrate the ability to beat other playoff-caliber teams. Avenging their most recent postseason loss when the Baltimore Ravens come to town in Week 5 will be a good test to see if the Chiefs deserve to be mentioned with the AFC's elite.
Similar tests will be the Week 3 matchup with the New Orleans Saints and the Week 10 tilt with the Pittsburgh Steelers, both providing tough road atmospheres for the Chiefs.
While every game is important, the Chiefs must handle the games within their own division and find ways to beat the tougher teams outside of the AFC West to make a return trip to the postseason.
Contact Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy and at popflyboys.com.