The 2011 NFL Schedule was released earlier today and it is certainly not as friendly of a schedule as the Chiefs had in 2010. The challenges this season for the Chiefs start with the AFC East and the NFC South instead of the AFC South and the NFC West.
In the last few months I have seen a lot of people say that the Chiefs success in 2010, finishing 10-6, is going to hurt them this season as last year’s success led to a much harder schedule for 2011. The truth, however, is that the Chiefs success only determined two games on the 2011 schedule.
So without further ado, below is your 2011 Kansas City Chiefs NFL schedule. After we absorb the schedule, I will discuss the Chiefs chances in the AFC West, identify the stretches of schedule that are the most difficult, and analyze the Chiefs likely wins and losses.
2011 Kansas City Chiefs Schedule
Week 1: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 2: Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions
Week 3: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
Week 4: Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 5: Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
Week 8: San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 9: Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 10: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 11: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
Week 12: Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 13: Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears
Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets
Week 15: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 16: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Chiefs vs. AFC West
Since the Todd Haley era started in 2009 the Chiefs have not been that great in the AFC West. In 2009 the Chiefs went 2-4 in the AFC West, winning one game each over the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos and getting swept by the San Diego Chargers. In 2010 the Chiefs went 2-4 again, this time winning one game each against the Chargers and Broncos, while getting swept by the Raiders.
In 2011 the Chiefs will finally improve that 2-4 AFC West record, but sadly probably not my much. The Chiefs will most likely split the AFC West even with a 3-3 record. Not only will they split the AFC West, but they will split every matchup against the Chargers, Raiders, and Broncos at 1-1 in 2011.
It would be nice to think that the Chiefs would, and should, sweep the Broncos, but that just will not happen. It is inevitable that the Chiefs will lay a few eggs this upcoming season, and the Broncos are a good candidate for a team it will happen against. The last time the Chiefs swept the Broncos in a season series was in 2000, so no matter how bad the Broncos are the odds of a sweep are unlikely.
While the Chiefs splitting the season series with the Chargers and Raiders does not sound all that great, a big trend will end in 2011. The Chiefs will final beat the Raiders at home in 2011, something that has not happened since back in the 2006 season.
Most Difficult Stretch of Season
The 2011 schedule has laid out a pretty difficult path for the Chiefs to make it back to the playoffs. There are two sections of the season that could spell doom for the Chiefs, one early in the season and one late.
The first rough patch of match ups that the Chiefs will face starts Week 3 and will last through Week 5. The Chiefs have two road games in this span of time against two of the top quarterbacks in the league, in Phillip Rivers of San Diego and Peyton Manning of Indianapolis. In between those two games the Chiefs will face a Minnesota team that consistently has one of the best defenses in the NFL.
The second and most crucial rough patch of match ups the Chiefs face starts Week 11 and will end Week 15. In this span of five games the Chiefs face some of the toughest completion in the NFL, and I will go on record to say that this is the toughest five game schedule that any team in the league will face next season.
During this five game run the Chiefs will play teams that all made the playoffs last season. The Chiefs have three road games against the Patriots, Bears, and Jets. The homes games in this stretch do not get much easier as the Chiefs face the Steelers and the Superbowl Champion Packers.
Both of these rough patches during the season could make or break the Chiefs. If the Chiefs struggle early, it could mean the players lose confidence for the rest of the season. If the Chiefs struggle late, it could mean no playoffs in 2011.
AFC West Champions
The Chiefs will finish the 2011 NFL Season with a 9-7 record, which will be good enough for them to repeat their reign as AFC West Champions. As noted earlier, I see the Chiefs splitting their AFC west games at 3-3, which leaves another six wins to account for.
The Chiefs will have home victories against the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and Minnesota Vikings. This means that the Chiefs lose a couple of tough games at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers.
The Chiefs will have road victories against the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Bears, and the New York Jets. The Bears and the Jets are poised to take a step back offensively, and with another year under their belts the young defenses will lead the Chiefs to two tough victories. The two road losses will come from the hands of the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts.
The Chargers will continue to be streaky in 2011, leading to them not being able to recapture the AFC West crown, and will finish 8-8. The Raiders, while much improved in 2010, will not make any significant improvements in 2011 and will also finish 8-8. Which leave the Broncos in last place in the AFC West, with anywhere between four and six wins.