While the rest of the world has contracted an insane case of March Madness, for some, this period is full of speculation. Why concentrate on basketball when there is so much to think about for the upcoming NFL season?
After last season’s turnaround for the Kansas City Chiefs, many fans (and opponents, for that matter) are wondering if they will be able to repeat as AFC West Champions. Do they have what it takes to make it to the playoffs again?
The short answer is, yes. The Kansas City Chiefs should repeat as AFC West Champions. There are five reasons why you can expect this.
1. The Chiefs are a young team.
The Kansas City Chiefs are a young team, with only four players on their active roster born before 1980 (Kevin Curtis, WR; Ron Edwards, DT; Jon McGraw, DB; Mike Vrabel, OLB; Brian Waters, G; Casey Wiegmann, C). With most of the major role players under the age of 30, the team you saw last year, with hard work and good coaching, should improve greatly after last year’s experience.
2. Jamaal Charles will continue to power the running game.
After last season’s 1,400-yard season, all with only limited carries, Jamaal Charles, only 24, is sure to see significantly more action this season. This will help the Chiefs in two different ways.
First, with a great running game, the offensive scheme Kansas City seems to love will greatly benefit. Looking at last season, the games lost were the games that Jamaal Charles carries were limited. Turn him loose, and the running game will be able to explode.
Secondly, with the rest of the League aware of Charles’ ability this season, expect the defenses to concentrate on stopping the run. If the Chiefs are able to improve their receiving game, this will allow Matt Cassel more open receivers downfield, balancing out the offense greatly and making the Chiefs even more powerful on offense.
3. Scott Pioli is aware of the Chiefs’ weaknesses.
Without a doubt, the Chiefs have weaknesses. The major gaps in their game sit on the offensive side of the ball, with Matt Cassel often having to force the ball into double coverage as well as not having enough protection to be able to sit back in the pocket.
General Manager Scott Pioli has seen this and is looking to remedy these situations. He has proven this by working out Wyoming WR David Leonard. Once the labor dispute is officially settled, expect Pioli to look for a few experienced players to fill gaps on both sides of the ball.
Putting it simply, if Pioli does his job, the Chiefs should win.
4. The AFC West is not the NFL's most terrifying division.
A major factor in last season’s playoff berth is the AFC West’s strength, or lack thereof. The Broncos have shown no real signs of improvement after their 4-12 season last year. The rest of the division should roll over them with no real difficulties.
Chargers, as always, will be good competition. They are a well-run team who manages to compete year after year.
The real x-factor in the division will be the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders showed improvement late in the season last year. If they continue to improve, they will be very competitive. If it was a fluke, they should not be a major competitor.
Bottom line is, if the Chiefs play up to their potential, the key word being potential, none of these opponents should be too much of a problem.
5. The Chiefs have gained confidence and have something to prove.
Before last season, you could sense discouragement from the team. Their efforts were not rewarded with a playoff berth or any accolades.
After last season, though, the Chiefs discouragement should be gone. Making the playoffs is sure to boost anyone’s confidence, and with five Chiefs being named to the Pro Bowl, the players should have a feeling of confidence going into this season.
That is not to say there is room for the Chiefs to become complacent. After the playoff loss to the Ravens in the first round, Kansas City looked to be overrated to many. This upcoming season, the Chiefs should be fighting that characterization by playing harder day in and day out.
Sure, Chiefs fans have reason to be cautiously optimistic. They have been disappointed by their expectations before. If all goes right, though, expect to see the Chiefs in the postseason again next winter.