Nick Athan: It's going to be tough for the entire organization to deal with it but the problem this year is that CBS Affiliate KCTV-5 isn't likely going to bail out the Chiefs again. With season tickets down somewhere in the 40-50,000 range and the economy in the tank it's going to be difficult for the station to purchase discounted tickets so locals can watch the Chiefs game.
Unless the Chiefs have a solid preseason and win three or four games to build momentum, or add defensive end Julius Peppers or wide receiver Anquan Boldin, fans are going to have reservations about coming to Arrowhead. I'm not sure how the big three will deal with it but they'll probably preach to the fans that turning the team around will take time, and eventually they'll offer discount tickets.
Michael Ash: If the Chiefs were able to avoid blackouts a year ago with a two-win season and an incredibly unpopular general manager and head coach, they can probably make it through this season unscathed. But if they're still in that two-win range around Thanksgiving and Matt Cassel hasn't proven to be the answer, then anything is possible.
C.E. Wendler: Chiefs fans are impatient, but for some reason I think we'll see a more accepting crowd at Arrowhead this year. Especially when the team starts winning late in the season, which is completely possible. Remember when Dick Vermeil's first Chiefs team started winning a few late-season games in 2001? There were no blackouts that year.
Fans are buying into the credibility that Pioli and Haley have brought to the franchise, so it's only natural to expect they'll be supportive. We've already seen this take place with the Brian Waters situation. Not too many fans are pleased with his recent behavior despite the solider career he's enjoyed with the Chiefs.
Is there any indication that free agents perceive Kansas City as a better place to be now that King Carl has moved on?
Nick Athan: There is little difference in the art of the deal no matter who the GM might be. It all boils down to money. Sure, agents didn't like Peterson's tactics and it remains to be seen if they'll like Pioli's when he actually spends some money, but regardless, he was able to attract some big time free agent talent in New England. When you're basically signing players to one-year deals we can't really tell if the negotiation practices of the new regime are any different.
However, the current players, and one in particular who is hoping to get a new deal, told me he was glad Peterson was gone. Pioli believes in the team concept, so if the players buy in they'll get their fair share of the loot. But this will still be a well-budgeted team, regardless of who the GM is.
Remember Carl Peterson?
Steve Dykes - Getty
We probably won't have a good answer to this question until the Chiefs start to become competitive again. In recent years, the team overpaid for free agents who were rarely worth they money they were being paid. If the Chiefs can start to attract talented players without breaking the bank – in other words, players who want to be part of something special and aren't just worried about their paycheck – we'll know there's a difference.
C.E. Wendler: There's not enough data to make a conclusion on this issue yet. But early returns have not been positive. We know the Chiefs went after Albert Haynesworth and Bart Scott in free agency this year, but couldn't land either one. It probably boiled down to money in both cases, however. The Chiefs simply can't compete with a larger market team like the Redskins (who signed Haynesworth) in free agency.
Of course, as everyone knows, great teams are rarely built via free agency. Where Scott Pioli may prove to be different than Carl Peterson is in negotiating with draft choices. Remember the John Tait fiasco?
Is Rudy Niswanger our starting center or will Ghiaciuc beat him out?
Nick Athan: I'd like to see Niswanger move to right guard to make the line stronger, but it all depends on what the Chiefs do with Brian Waters, who still wants out of town. Right now there's not much difference between Niswanger and Ghiaciuc.
However, Rudy is as tough as nails, and there wasn't a player in the locker room a year ago who played with pain like he did. There were days he could barely walk, but he was game ready on Sunday. I
Michael Ash: I would be shocked if Ghiaciuc ended up as the starter. Judging by the contract he signed - one year for around $600,000 - the Chiefs would be surprised, too. He's making less than half of what the team decided to pay Niswanger when they put a second-round tender on him earlier this offseason.
Ghiaciuc provides the team with some depth, both at center and maybe guard if necessary. I doubt he sees any action unless injuries force him into the lineup.
C.E. Wendler: Just because Ghiaciuc was a starter last season doesn't mean he's going to be a starter in Kansas City. That doesn't mean we should rule it out, but Ghiaciuc's signing smells more like a response to the Brian Waters situation than anything. Here's how it plays out:
If Wade Smith is forced into starting duty at left guard, the Chiefs would then be left with no experienced backup center. If Smith is already starting, obviously he can't fill in at center should something happen to Niswanger. If Ghiaciuc can also play a bit of guard, he becomes even more versatile.