After a return to the playoffs in 2010, the Kansas City Chiefs are looking to gain entry once again in 2011.
The NFL schedule makers seem to have other ideas, though.
The 2011 Chiefs face a schedule that is infinitely harder than 2010’s with Kansas City facing both the AFC and NFC champs from 2010 among other playoff contenders.
With a schedule like this, every game has an added importance for the Chiefs. With that said, there are five games that stand out as the most important.
Week 1 pits the Chiefs against the Bills in Arrowhead. While it is not a given that they will win that contest, a loss would be a surprise. Heading to Detroit, though, is another story.
Kansas City was 3-5 on the road last season including embarrassing losses at Denver and Houston. The first road game of 2011 will put them up against a team that is on the rise and, while finishing only 6-10 last season, has shown a great deal of talent.
More importantly, the Chiefs cannot afford to lose games on the road like they did in 2010 with their 2011 schedule. With six of the non-conference games coming against very successful teams, the Chiefs have to crank out a win against a middle of the road team like the Lions if they hope to make the playoffs.
Kansas City finished one game ahead of San Diego last season. The Chargers are consistently competitive and 2011 looks to be no different than in past years.
With a young defense, the 2010 Chargers shutout the Chiefs’ offense when the teams went head to head in San Diego. With the Chargers being the main competition that the Chiefs will be forced to overcome to return to the playoffs, winning this game would put Kansas City at a serious advantage early in the season, forcing the Chargers to try to even the score in Arrowhead Stadium, a much friendlier atmosphere for the Chiefs.
While the first half of the Chiefs’ 2011 schedule is undoubtedly easier than the second half, there is one major scare: the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts finished with 10 wins in 2010 including a Week 5 victory that put the first of six tallies in the Chiefs’ loss column. This season, the Chiefs will look to even the score against Peyton Manning’s team.
This is also the first major test the Chiefs’ will face. A win in Week 5 would take Kansas City into their bye week with some momentum before facing division opponents three out of the next four weeks. A loss would force the Chiefs into a must-win position late in the season, a nearly impossible position for Kansas City to overcome.
Out of the Chiefs’ six losses in 2010, two came via the Oakland Raiders.
The Chiefs will need to perform well in this game if they hope to win the division. Coming off of the bye week, this is a good chance for Kansas City to gain a little bit of ground in the standings as well as build up momentum.
If Kansas City loses, that makes the Week 8 game against the Chargers that much more difficult. The intangibles attached to Week 7 are very strong and a loss could cause the team to suffer a serious setback on any progress they have made throughout the season.
Week 11 will be, arguably, the most important game for Kansas City.
Late November is never the time a team wants to go to Gillette Stadium and face Tom Brady and the gang. For the Chiefs, though, this game is of extra importance.
The Week 11 game kicks off five consecutive weeks against the likes of the Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, New York Jets and Green Bay Packers. A win here would give the Chiefs momentum going into these weeks, as well as a much-needed win down the stretch. Wins down the stretch look like they might be hard to come by, but if Kansas City can win this matchup, facing the other four teams will not seem to be as daunting of a task.