The 9 Games That Will Determine Kansas City's Fate in 2013
After this year's offseason activity, they are on pace to rebound.
As always, the Chiefs will play teams in their division twice, as well as teams from the AFC South and NFC West, plus the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs could have some pivotal games that could determine whether or not they can sneak into the playoffs.
Which games on Kansas City's schedule will be the most crucial?
Week 1 at Jacksonville
I bet you were not expecting this to be the first game on the list. There's a big reason why Chiefs fans should consider this a key game.
Kansas City and Jacksonville were the two worst teams in the league last season. Although the Chiefs have a new coaching staff and improved on their personnel, it still must show on the field.
If the Chiefs can beat the Jaguars, or better yet, blow them out, then this shows that the Chiefs are no longer in the bottom of the league and dug themselves out of the bottom tier. If the Chiefs happen to fall to the Jaguars, it will be a long week before the home opener the following week, as fans will have concerns after losing its season opener due to the Jaguars being nearly as bad as the Chiefs last season.
Week 2 vs. Dallas
As many may recall in 2009, the Chiefs, despite being winless, challenged the Dallas Cowboys and pushed the game into overtime. However, it was not enough, as Miles Austin came through as the unexpected hero for the Cowboys.
Despite falling one game short of the playoffs the past two years, the Cowboys have played well in their non-conference games, going 5-3.
Quarterback Alex Smith will have his first big test in Week 2 when he faces two of the most dominant pass-rushers in DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, who combined for 22.5 sacks in 2012.
A victory would mean that the Chiefs offensive line was able to contain the Ware and Spencer and allowed Smith time to make the throws he needed to make.
Week 4 vs. New York Giants
The New York Giants may have missed the playoffs last year, but they are always a force to be reckoned with. The Giants have won two Super Bowls since the 2007 season, beating one of the most dominant teams in the New England Patriots each time.
This would be a good game for fans to see the progress and development of the team. In order for the Chiefs to be one of the top teams in the league, they will have to go through and compete against teams like the Giants.
Beating the Giants early in the season could signify that the offseason activities have paid off and that the Chiefs could have a good rest of the season ahead. If the Chiefs lose, but come just short, it will still show that they have improved and are a competitive team.
Week 7 vs. Houston
Fans at Arrowhead Stadium are in for a treat if they have tickets to this game. Both defensive coordinators will be doing a lot of preparation for this game as well, since this game has the possibility of being a shootout.
The Texans have the dangerous trio of quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson. Foster finished sixth in the league in rushing yards last year, while Johnson was second in receiving yards.
The Texans were just one of nine teams in the league, one of three in the AFC, to score over 400 points in 2012.
Kansas City's defense will have to be ready for anything Houston's offense throws at it.
On the other side, the Chiefs will face last year's most feared pass-rusher and the league's Defensive Player of the Year in J.J. Watt. Containing him and keeping him away from Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith might be the biggest challenge the offensive line will have this season.
Week 11 at Denver and Week 13 vs. Denver
Last year, the Chiefs stood up to Manning and Denver's offense. Although Manning threw two touchdown passes, he and the Broncos struggled putting up more points on the scoreboard. But due to Kansas City's ineffective offense, it only tacked on three field goals and lost, 17-9.
Could it be a different story this year with a new and improved offense?
Some of Manning's worst games have come against Kansas City in 2007 and 2010, where he was silenced due to pass rushes from Jared Allen in 2007 and Tamba Hali in 2010.
Now, Manning will need offensive tackles Orlando Franklin and Ryan Clady to step up and block Hali and Justin Houston, which is a tall order.
The Chiefs were blown out in the final game of the season against the Broncos, but this year, expect two competitive games between the two teams.
Week 14 at Washington
Both the Redskins and Chiefs have changed since last playing each other in 2009. Today, the Redskins have Mike Shanahan as their head coach and went through a draft last year that changed the franchise.
The Redskins had two rookies who were impact players last year. Robert Griffin III finished second in the league in passer rating while running back Alfred Morris was second in rushing yards.
Griffin's versatility was a problem for many defenses last year. Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has to find a way to use Hali and Houston and keep Griffin contained in the pocket and limit him in scrambling with the ball.
With the Redskins reaching the playoffs last year, this gives the Chiefs another chance to prove whether or not they can be compared to some of the best teams in the league. With this game also being in December, games become more crucial and teams in the playoff hunt become more fierce.
Week 16 vs. Indianapolis
Andrew Luck dominated his rookie season, but he had a hard time against Kansas City's defense when he completed 49 percent of his passes. He threw one touchdown and was sacked three times.
Kansas City's offense manufactured 352 yards on the ground, the most in a game by any team last year, as both Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis surpassed the 100-yard mark.
But it wasn't enough, as the Colts pulled away. This year, the Colts return to Arrowhead Stadium and the Chiefs get another shot at them roughly a year later.
Week 17 at San Diego
Both the San Diego Chargers and Chiefs underwent changes within the front office and are looking to establish a new identity this upcoming season. By the time this game is over, the season will come to an end as both teams hope to finish ahead of the other.
Last year, Kansas City lost all six games within its division.
This year, not only do the Chiefs hope to avoid going winless, but they hope to win far more games against AFC West opponents and try to challenge the teams in their division.
Denver is projected to win the division, but if the Chiefs and Chargers both improve in 2013, there may be a chance that the two teams battle each other for a Wild Card spot in the final game of the season.