Are the Kansas City Chiefs Sleeping or Unconscious in the AFC West?

George RobbenCorrespondent ISeptember 7, 2010

ATLANTA - AUGUST 13:  Dexter McCluster #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on August 13, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the preseason behind the Chiefs, it's interesting to look at what's in store for Matt Cassel and company. Kansas City doubled their win production in 2009—not saying much for a team that went 2-14 the year before.

Nevertheless though, It got me to question if they could pull off this feat again in 2010 and become a potential AFC West champ. It seems probably insane and partial to most reading this, but call it the optimist inside of me.

All the teams in the AFC west have questions coming into the regular season. From injuries, to production of rookies, internal drama, there are many kinks in the conference that could hold down the four teams.

San Diego, who 99 out of 100 people say is a sure lock for the AFC West championship, have plenty of issues that many are ignoring. Most problems are off the field, with Vincent Jackson's holdout, Merriman's attitude, and the overall feeling among sports critics that they will run away with conference may cause some big heads.

Ryan Matthews is a rookie, and despite how much the Chargers believe in him, I can't be confident in his performance until he's had at least a couple regular season games under his belt.

In Denver, my main concern for them is all the injuries that have piled up. Elvis Dumervil is the most obvious injury affecting the surprisingly accomplished 2009 Broncos defense. Rookie Demaryius Thomas, who is suppose to pick of the slack of Brandon Marshall, has had a foot injury that could ruin his immediate impact.

The other injury issue that really should have the Broncos worrying is the multiple ones at running back, that leave the position in jeopardy.

Oakland is the popular team most have as a sleeper in the AFC West this year. Although I admit they look extensively improved from the 2009 season, I am still a skeptic. Jason Campbell is a step up from JaMarcus Russell, but I'm not sure he is a real reliable starter. Reliability seems to be a concern at many positions for Oakland including running back and wide receiver.

This brings me to the Chiefs, who need a lot of factors to go right to compete respectably in the AFC West. I think the bellwether of the team is quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel needs to play dramatically smarter, and more efficient for the Kansas City to have any chance of turning heads this season.

I won't give the defense the respect of using a euphemism. Their play was horrendous and vomit-inducing in 2009. The good news is that during the preseason, the Chiefs defense looked leaps and bounds better. The other main problem is the lack of weapons at wide receiver.

Enough of the bad though, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. The rookies alone are enough to make any fan of the Chiefs positive. With Dexter McCluster and Eric Berry, they have a potential rookie of the year player on offense and defense.

Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis are both accomplished signal callers in the NFL. Even if you think that the "New England Patriots of the Midwest" theory GM Scott Pioli is trying to pull off is crazy, it is a chance I'm willing to see him take.

Other considerations that give me hope for this season are a fairly weak schedule, improved physical condition and shape of the team overall, and the straight unpredictablity of the NFL.

If the Chiefs break even at 8-8 this season I will be a bit surprised, but in comparison to a lot of critics out there, I wouldn't put it past them. Things are going the right way in Kansas City now, but only time will tell if they will either keep people glued to their TV or falling asleep in their recliners.