At first glance, the Kansas City Chiefs 2005 schedule is one that calls for modest hope but also has some scratching their heads that the great fans will not have a prime time game at Arrowhead this season.
With four of their last six games at home, the Chiefs if they can survive the first ten games of the season; could be in a position to make it back into the playoffs. But that stretch run could be be fueled by how well this team starts the season.
The 2005 season opens ups against the New York Jets on September 11th at home in Arrowhead. That was the only favor the NFL gave the Chiefs over the first quarter of the season.
After the Kets game, they'll play back to back road games in Oakland on Sunday Night and the following Monday Night in Denver against the Broncos. Thus its important the Chiefs make a good showing against three AFC teams that could be battling for a post season birth at seasons end.
In the off-season the Raiders have re-tooled their offense on the acquisition of wide receiver Randy Moss, they'll feature a high-octane offense but they're defensive woes could continue. Denver has spent the off-season rebuilding their defensive line by adding every member of the Cleveland Browns front four who were ranked as a group just slightly higher than the Chiefs defense.
If Kansas City can win two of their first three games, they'll wrap up the first quarter of the season with a home game against Super Bowl runner up Philadelphia. The Eagles have been the NFC's most consistant regular season team the last four years and they'll be anything but a push over for the Chiefs who likely will be favored in the game.
But it gets tougher over the next six weeks for the Chiefs. They've proven the last three seasons that winning on the road is not easy and they'll have to correct that this year. Like last season they have some games on the road where they'll be favored.
After the bye week, they'll play the Redskins at home, then go on the road to Miami and back across the coast to San Diego. Then they will come home to face the Raiders for the second time before going back on the road to face the Bills and Texans in a Sunday Night content.
The toughest road contest in that stretch will be the Chargers. San Diego is coming off a AFC West Championship but they've done little to improve themselves in free agency. They have a plethora of drat picks so their success in 2005 could hinge on what happens on draft day.
The contest at Miami could be intriguing; especially if the Chiefs acquire Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain. The game in Buffalo could be challenging but with second year quarterback JP Losman at the helm for the Bills; the Chiefs chances should improve if he struggles in his sophomore season to lead the Buffalo after the dpearture of Drew Bledsoe who's now in Dallas.
After that road stretch the Chiefs return to Arrowhead to face the defending Super Bowl Champs, the New England Patriots. The following week at home they'll face division rival Denver.
A successful eight game stretch could put the Chiefs in a solid position to close out the final four games of the seasons. But it won't be easy.
The Chiefs next two opponents will be road contests against the Cowboys and the following Saturday against the Giants. History has shown the Chiefs inability to win games in New York and Dallas so they;ll have to reverse those fortunes this year.
If somehow they can split those two road games, then the season will end at home against AFC counterparts San Diego and and the Bengals. Vicotries over both of these teams could determine the Chiefs playoff fortunes.
Though its far too early to predict the Chiefs 2005 record, one thing is certain their success will be determined on the additional acquisitions they can make in free agency and the NFL draft.
But being the optimist that I am and based on the fact the road games outside of the AFC West; this team could win 10 or 11 games in 2005. Will that be enough to win the AFC West? I won't say that yet but the recipe to win 12 or 13 games will be decided on how well the Chiefs defense improves in the off-season.
Unfortunately until Chiefs fans see the final roster, anything in regards to predicting wins and losses is futile. Still we fans can dream and most of us will until September 11th when the games really count.