For the Kansas City Chiefs, success this year will not be determined by making the playoffs.
The Kansas City Chiefs simply do not have the personnel, team chemistry, or cohesion to give themselves a legitimate shot in the NFL's toughest conference. The better question is: do the Kansas City Chiefs have a shot at respectability?
We will look at the Chiefs' current construction and schedule to determine if the Chiefs have a shot at being a respectable team during the 2010 NFL season.
The Chiefs' biggest strength is at the running back position.
Two running backs coming off 1,000 yard seasons spearhead a running attack that will hopefully help elevate the status of a Chiefs' offensive line that looked dismal at points last season.
Jamaal Charles is a third-year running back from the University of Texas who is incredibly explosive. Charles has averaged over five yards per carry during his NFL career and is also a threat out of the backfield via the passing game due to his ability to turn a screen pass in to a touchdown.
Thomas Jones is coming off his best season as a professional with the New York Jets that saw Jones eclipse the 1,400 yard barrier. Jones, at 32-years-old, is past the point where most NFL running backs see a tremendous decline in productivity, but with Jones' impressive year last season and with the ability for Charles to spare Jones some of the workload, Jones should have a productive season.
The running game should be the strength of the Chiefs' attack.
Matt Cassel spent a lot of last year admiring the upper levels of NFL stadiums.
Cassel was sacked 42 times last year and didn't aid the Chiefs' reclamation project as quickly as Chiefs' fans would have hoped.
However, when you spend a good portion of every game on the ground and have to complete most of your passes within a 15-yard area due to the lack of protection from the offensive line, having an unproductive season becomes more understandable.
However, I'm not sold on Matt Cassel.
Although his season taking over for Tom Brady in New England was impressive, Cassel was more of a game manager than game changer for the majority of the season.
Cassel still completed most of his passes short and only toward the end of the season did the Patriots begin utilizing the long ball to weapons like Randy Moss
Cassel wasn't very accurate last year with only a 55 percent completion percentage and most of those completions were for minimal gains.
Dwayne Bowe, who is a stellar receiver, did miss games last season, but even during games he played wasn't as productive as he had been during the first two seasons of his career.
Matt Cassel has to prove his 2008 season with the Patriots wasn't a one-hit wonder.
The 2010 NFL Draft may turn out to be a turning point for the franchise.
First-round draft pick Eric Berry is an impressive safety that will immediately start for a secondary that gave up 25 receiving touchdowns to opponents last season.
Second-round draft pick Dexter McCluster should get touches at a variety of positions this season. He will likely get looks in the slot alongside Chris Chambers and Dwayne Bowe, or in the backfield as a change-of-pace back who can catch screen passes, or be utilized to stretch the field with the potential for long runs.
The Chiefs, by all accounts, had a strong draft in 2010 and a lot of the youth selected in the draft will be expected to immediately pay dividends.
Of the Chiefs first five games, they have two games that could potentially be wins.
The second game of the season against Cleveland is on the road, but the Browns just lost to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that didn't look very impressive and didn't have high expectations coming in to the season and, additionally, the Browns turned the ball over three times and couldn't maintain possession of the ball.
The other potential win comes against the San Francisco 49ers, who looked very bad against the Seahawks with Alex Smith again showing a lack of poise in the pocket. The 49ers will also be coming off a game against the New Orleans Saints, which should put the team at 0-2 to start off the season and the team may be dejected enough to allow the Chiefs to come away with a win.
The rest of the schedule sees a few opportunities for wins. The Chiefs have a home game against the Buffalo Bills Week 8, the Chiefs have another home game against the Cardinals Week 11, the Chiefs have a road game against the St. Louis Rams Week 15, and the Chiefs end the season at home Week 17 against the Raiders.
The Kansas City Chiefs certainly have winnable games on their schedule.
The Kansas City Chiefs don't have a ton of talent. Although the Chiefs have a solid group of running backs and wide receivers, the weak offensive line nullifies the ability for that talent to maximize its potential.
The Chiefs made moves this offseason to bolster the offensive playcalling bringing in Charlie Weis, but Weis isn't exactly coming off the most impressive stretch of his vaunted coaching career.
Outside of Mike Vrabel and Eric Berry, the defense is very suspect and should get torched due to the weakness at the corner position and the inability for the team to get much pressure up the middle should leave the secondary exposed on an island not occupied by Darrelle Revis, but Brandon Carr—an island receivers would readily call habitable.
The Kansas City Chiefs will go 4-12 for the second straight season and the organization will have to attempt to gain traction on the rebuilding process again next offseason.