Let 'Em Play

The Chiefs open the season at home against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, and the game couldn't come any sooner. Chiefs fans have been clamoring for the opportunity to see just how good - or bad - this team will be.

Much has been made of the offseason personnel decisions by Chiefs President/General Manager Carl Peterson. The Chiefs were cautiously active during the free agency period, as Peterson waited patiently before finally coming to terms on an agreement with Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law. Peterson also added depth to the offensive backfield by trading for running back Michael Bennett, and took a risk in hoping that offensive tackle Kyle Turley, who sat out all of the 2005 season, could return to his former level of play.

In the draft, the Chiefs came away with a trio of talented young defensive players that coaches expect will make an immediate impact. First-round defensive end Tamba Hali has already been named the starter at left defensive end. Hali can line up at multiple spots, including linebacker, and he'll be able to disrupt opposing offenses. A pair of young safeties - Bernard Pollard from Purdue and Jarrad Page from UCLA - are also expected to compete for serious playing time.

Those were some of the decisions that Peterson had control of. There were plenty of other decisions made by players that forced his hand. The unexpected retirement of right tackle John Welbourne left the Chiefs scrambling to find a replacement. Then, as luck would have it, left tackle Willie Roaf shocked the entire organization by saying that he wouldn't return for the 2006 season. Suddenly the Chiefs' greatest strength, their offensive line, had become a potential area of weakness. Soon after, it was decided that Priest Holmes would start the season on the physically unable to perform list.

And so the Chiefs headed to preseason with more questions than answers. Would the offensive line hold up? Does Larry Johnson have a chance at repeating his 2005 season? Would coach Herm Edwards put his stamp on a defense that has underachieved for the last few seasons? Could the young players taken in the draft compete for starting jobs?

The questions didn't end there. This is a team that can't even decide on a touchdown song!

Yeah, not your typical offseason.

That's why it is critical for the Chiefs to finally take the field Sunday. They need to find out just how good they are, and they need to find out how they stack up against a playoff-caliber team.

Enough with the predictions and the analysis.

To hell with the power polls, the expert picks and the media favorites!

Let's just let them play.

Everyone is so quick to point out that the Chiefs can't compete with the Broncos, and that they'll have a tough time overtaking them as AFC West champions.

That might be true. But keep this in mind: no team in the AFC West has repeated as champions since the league realigned divisions in 2002. On top of that, there's been an average of five different division winners per season over the last four years.

The point? A lot can change in a year. And in the NFL, a league that's littered by parity, change occurs more often than not. Last season, the Chiefs were one game short of making the playoffs. They finished 10-6 and were one of the few teams in NFL history to not make the playoffs with a double-digit win total.

Many believe they can make the jump to the playoffs this season, and if they get in, can make a potential run at the Super Bowl. Others think the Chiefs are missing too many pieces, that they are too old, too inexperienced, too whatever.

It's too early to tell, too close to call. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Let's just let them play.

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