Week 5 - @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming off their bye week, the Chiefs will face their most daunting task of 2010: a road trip to Indy to face the defending AFC Champions.
We could waste our time and try to come up with some crazy scenario for a Chiefs' victory – like, say, the extra week of preparation allowing the team to master the exact same game plans that Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel used to stymie the Colts back during their New England days.
But we all know the reality of the situation. Barring some sort of injury that keeps Peyton Manning out of the game, the Chiefs' chances of winning are practically non-existent.
If nothing else, though, this game should serve as a solid measuring stick. We'll get a chance to see just how far the Chiefs have to go in order to be competitive with the best teams in the AFC.
Prediction: Loss (1-3)
Week 6 - @ Houston Texans
A week after playing the Super Bowl runner-up Colts, the Chiefs head out on the road once more for a game with the Texans. Looking over the 2010 schedule, this combo of back-to-back road games looks like the toughest two-week stretch of the season.
Houston finished 9-7 a year ago, good for second place in the competitive AFC South. They had a slim chance at a wildcard birth going into the final week of the regular season, but didn't get the results they needed to make their first-ever playoff appearance.
When one thinks of the NFL's top passing attacks, teams like the Saints, Colts, and Patriots immediately leap to mind. But it was actually the Texans who had the league's top passing offense a year ago. That sort of high-octane aerial attack presents a considerable problem for any opponent, particularly one that has trouble getting after the quarterback.
For a chance at victory, the Chiefs are going to need one of two things: an offense capable of matching Houston's output, or a defense that's capable of keeping a highly potent passing game in check.
We'd all like to see the team have both, no doubt. But until those results start showing up on the field, we can't realistically predict the sort of improvements it would take for the Chiefs to be successful here.
Until they prove otherwise, the Chiefs just don't match-up well with the sort of firepower Houston can produce.
Prediction: Loss (1-4)
Week 7 – vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
To this point, despite the optimism many Chiefs' fans have about the upcoming schedule, we've predicted the team to win just one of their first five games. If, as many are predicting, the Chiefs can upset the Chargers in the season opener, that would boost their record to 2-3 at this point of the season. A 2-3 record would be better, but still not what some are hoping for.
It's games like this one against Jacksonville that should set the tone for the rest of the season. At first glance, there's no real reason to predict a Chiefs' victory here. They just lost to the Jaguars last season, and if not for a furious rally in the closing minutes, the final score wouldn't have even been close.
It was something of a disheartening loss, because Jacksonville simply wasn't all that good. They went 7-9 a year ago, but four of those wins came over teams that went into their games against the Jags with a combined record of 4-20. Jacksonville used their schedule to their advantage and got themselves into the playoff picture, but ultimately closed out the season on a four-game losing streak.
If the Chiefs are going to rise up out of the basement, this is precisely the kind of game they need to win. If they can't pull out a home game against a mediocre opponent, they'll be a lot farther away from competing than any of us thought.
Our guess is that they get the job done.
Prediction: Win (2-4)
Week 8 – vs. Buffalo Bills
In the first part of the schedule analysis, I said that I usually find it hard to predict victory against a team that beat the Chiefs late in the year during the previous season. That's especially true in this case, given that Buffalo has come to Kansas City twice in the last two years and walked out with a victory each time.
But for the Chiefs, maybe the third time will be the charm.
Last year's 16-10 loss to Buffalo was a far cry from the 2008 game, in which the Bills put up the most points ever scored by a visiting team at Arrowhead. Despite a multi-interception game from Matt Cassel, the Chiefs were within a late touchdown of beating Buffalo last season, and appeared to be on their way until Chris Chambers dropped a potential game-winning pass just outside the endzone.
This time around, we predict the Chiefs will finally get over the hump and send the Bills home unhappy. But with that said, there are definite reasons to be wary of this game.
New Bills head coach Chan Gailey probably has this one circled on his calendar, as you have to assume he'd like to stick it to Todd Haley for dumping him as offensive coordinator last season. Buffalo's first-round pick C.J. Spiller could also pose quite a problem if the Chiefs' rush defense hasn't improved.
Still, we'll take the Chiefs. Not only are the Bills installing new systems on both sides of the ball this year, but everything else being equal, this will be their second straight road game in a brief stretch away from Buffalo. Historically, teams tend to be at a disadvantage under those circumstances.
Prediction: Win (3-4)
Next Time: Weeks 9-12
Chiefs Schedule Analysis - Part 2
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