Playing back-to-back home games for the first time all year, the Chiefs will compete in their third consecutive contest against an NFC East team when the Dallas Cowboys come to town. Dallas finished 2008 at 9-7, but ended the season with a two-game losing streak that knocked them out of the playoffs.
The Cowboys had the league's 8th-best defense and 13th ranked offense a year ago, but due to considerable roster turnover, those rankings may be misleading in terms of judging future performance.
Additionally, as the NFL celebrates the 50th anniversary of the American Football League, the contest with Dallas will be the first of the Chiefs' three AFC Legacy games this season. The team will wear their 1962 Dallas Texans uniforms.
Why The Chiefs Could Lose
As we've discussed over the past two weeks, the Chiefs simply don't match up well with the NFC East. On paper, Dallas is clearly the more talented team. They had the best pass rush in the NFL last season and their running game, with the one-two punch of Marion Barber and Felix Jones, could pose a serious problem.
All things being equal, Dallas should be able to walk out of Kansas City with the win.
Why The Chiefs Could Win
As mentioned, the Cowboys' roster won't look quite this same this year, and a fair amount of discussion has been raised about their decision-making this offseason. The team has parted ways with several veterans, prompting speculation that 2009 may be a something of a rebuilding year for Dallas as they count on several unproven players to step up and fill the holes on the roster.
With the departure of Terrell Owens, the single biggest change on the Cowboys' roster came on offense. But the most roster movement came on the other side of the ball, as defensive end Chris Canty, outside linebacker Greg Ellis, middle linebacker (and current Chief) Zach Thomas, defensive tackle Tank Johnson, safety Roy Williams, and cornerbacks Anthony Henry and Adam "Pacman" Jones are gone.
Some believe that Dallas, by ridding the team of distractions like Owens and Jones, is counting on the concept of addition by subtraction. However, after the NFL Draft – where Dallas kept trading back and didn't select a player until the third round – and a fairly quiet free agency period, some began to wonder if the Cowboys' offseason moves were less about rebuilding or chemistry and more about owner Jerry Jones saving money.
According to the Dallas Observer, the Cowboys' new $1 billion stadium went $150 million over budget, with that entire cost coming out of Jones' pocket.
Whatever the reasons for the changes actually are, the end result is that – particularly on defense – it appears Dallas won't be lining up with the same level of talent. But even if the Cowboys' young players prove to be able replacements, the Chiefs play them early enough in the season that Dallas could still be working out the kinks caused by the departure of so many key veterans.
On offense, Dallas should still have a potent attack even without Owens. But if anyone has insight into Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo, it should be Todd Haley, who previously worked with Romo as Dallas' passing game coordinator. In addition, last week we discussed the trend of quarterbacks faltering in their first start at Arrowhead. While the results haven't been as good in recent years, it's at least worth noting that this will be Romo's first appearance in Kansas City.
All in all, the Chiefs should be facing a work-in-progress defense, a quarterback they should have some tendencies on, and a team that appears less talented than it was last year. The Cowboys also play in Denver the week before, so Kansas City will catch them on their second straight road game.
The elements for an unexpected win appear to be in place. Will the Chiefs be able to capitalize?
Prediction: It might not be the most likely result, but we'll go out on a limb and predict the Chiefs (2-3) pull off an upset.
Reading KC's Fortune - Week 5
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