How Close are the Chiefs to Winning a Super Bowl?


Well folks, it’s officially the offseason for Chiefs fans.  After a heartbreaking loss to the Indianapolis Colts, we as Chiefs fans have shifted our sights to free agency, and the NFL draft.  Many people including myself thought that the Chiefs would win their first playoff game in 20 years only to have our dreams shattered by Andrew Luck and crew.  Although I did think the Chiefs would win on wildcard Sunday, I didn’t think they were ready to take home the Lombardi Trophy just yet.  So how close are the Chiefs to being ready to compete for an NFL championship?  To truly find out how good of a football team our Kansas City Chiefs really are, we have to look at the teams that they will be playing against in order to get to the Super Bowl.  I’m going to compare the top teams in the AFC, and take a look at their future outlook; such things as key players who could be leaving the team, whether it be from free agency or retirement, and additions that I believe these teams need to make before they can take home the crown.  So without further adieu let’s take a look at one of the Chiefs most hated rivals the Denver Broncos.

The Denver Broncos will be playing in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks on February 2nd.  The thought alone is sickening, and I’m not sure I’ll actually be able to watch the game.  Nonetheless, the Broncos do deserve to be there boasting the best offense that the league has ever seen (on paper at least), and perhaps the greatest QB of all time in Peyton Manning.  While these are great achievements, what about the longevity of the team?  Let me start out with the obvious: Peyton Manning is 37 years old.  Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Broncos were to win the Super Bowl (it hurts just to type it) that Manning would leave the league on a high note and retire.  That being said, I could also see him staying with the team for at leas 1-2 more years.  While I do have a lot of respect for him, I don’t see another 55 TD season in his future, and I actually expect a decline in his play. Even though I think his level of play will decline, I still expect above average QB play from number 18 for the rest of his career, play that will be good enough to lead a team to the Super Bowl given the right pieces.  But who’s to say Manning will be surrounded by the right pieces?  As it stands right now, I don’t for foresee any of the Broncos current starters retiring this offseason, but rest assured dear readers, we will not see the same Broncos squad in 2014.  When all is said and done the Broncos will have $12.8M in free cap space to resign current players, and sign other free agents from around the league.  This is a pretty good amount of cap space, but when you look at the list of 16 Broncos who are free agents to be, and contracts that they will demand, you’ll know why I’m smiling.  The Broncos 2014 free agents are:

  • Eric Decker WR
  • Knowshon Moreno RB
  • Shaun Phillips DE
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie CB
  • Wesley Woodyard LB
  • Mike Adams S
  • Robert Ayers DE
  • Paris Lenon LB
  • Quentin Jammer CB
  • Chirs Kuper G
  • Andre Caldwell WR
  • Jeremy Mincey DE
  • Steve Vallos C
  • Michael Huff S
  • Winston Justice T

You and I both know that the Broncos can’t resign all of those players, add new players, and sign their draft picks on just $12.8M, which means that they will likely be losing a key player or players this offseason.  The Broncos defense wasn’t terrific this year, and losing some of the players listed above could prove to be very costly for the Broncos.  Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the Broncos can fill some of there needs through the draft, but they will be picking very late, and many of the players that they draft will not be ready to start right away if any at all. With the combination of an aging quarterback, and the possibility of losing some key players in free agency, the Broncos will be hard pressed to find their way back to the Super Bowl in 2014.  Still, I’ll label them a contender so long as Peyton is heading the team.  The next team on my list of Super Bowl contenders in the near future is the New England Patriots.

The Patriots were bested by the Broncos in the AFC championship game, and the attention of the organization has now turned towards the offseason.  The Pats are another team with an aging superstar quarterback in Tom Brady who will be 37 at the start of next season.  Watching Tom Brady this season, it didn’t seem that he’s starting to decline in arm strength like Peyton Manning. At 37 years old Tom Brady’s career is nearing its end, and the Patriots should not take that lightly.  Brady didn’t have his best year this year, but I attribute that to a decline in the talent around him.  If the Patriots want a shot at yet another Super Bowl, they’ll need to make some upgrades at the receiver position this offseason.  Another thing that has  plagued the Patriots this year was the vast amount of injuries the team suffered.  Key players to the Pats success such as Gronk, and Vince Wilfork were sidelined much of the past season due to injuries.  So if the Patriots can stay healthy, and make a few positional upgrades this offseason they’ll be in the running for a Super Bowl in the 2014 season, right?  Not exactly.  The Patriots only have $7.6M available in cap space, and like the Broncos will have some difficult decisions to make.  They could free up cap room by doing the thing that the Patriots always do to free up cap space; restructure veteran contracts (players such as Vince Wilfork, and Isaac Sopoaga).  Even if they do free more cap space, I doubt it will be enough to sign all of their “key” free agents.  The 2014 Patriots free agency list includes:

  • LeGarrette Blount RB
  • Julian Edelman WR
  • Austin Collie WR
  • Michael Hoomanawanui TE
  • Will Svitek OT
  • Matthew Mulligan TE
  • Ryan Wendell C
  • Andre Carter DE
  • Dane Fletcher MLB
  • Aqib Talib CB
  • Brandon Spikes MLB
  • Danny Aiken LS

Many of those players were  a key to the Patriots success either this year or in the past.  The Pats front office will undoubtedly have some very difficult decisions to make this offseason in regards to free agency.  Most likely the Patriots will  have a solid draft (as they always seem to do), and can fill some roster needs there.  Still, I see the Patriots as a less complete team than others in the AFC, and I think that their dynasty will come to an end the day Tom Brady retires.  But, as long as Tom is Belichick’s QB, the Patriots are going to make the playoffs.  While I still think that they are a Super Bowl contender in the near future, I want to put this statistic out there: Tom Brady started his playoff career with a 10-0 record.  Since he won his tenth playoff game, he’s gone 8-8.  In my opinion, the Patriots are just not the same football team that they used to be.  Next up on my list is the Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts pulled off a stunning 28 point comeback to beat our beloved Chiefs in the wildcard round of the playoffs, only to squander their good fortune by getting torched by LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots in a 21 point blowout loss.  Although this year ended in disappointment for Colt’s fans, there’s a lot to look forward to in the not so distant future for the Colts.  The Colts will have a whopping $38.8M in cap space entering the 2014 offseason, giving them room to add some much needed pieces.  The Colts 18 unrestricted free agents include:

  • Pat Angerer MLB
  • Antoine Bethea S
  • Ahmad Bradshaw RB
  • Deion Branch WR
  • Donald Brown RB
  • Sergio Brown S
  • Kavell Connor MLB
  • Vontae Davis CB
  • Aubrayo Franklin NT
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey WR
  • Jeff Linkenbach OT
  • Ricardo Matthew DT
  • Pat McAfee P
  • Fili Moala DE
  • Lawrence Sidbury OLB
  • Cassius Vaughn CB
  • Adam Vinetari K
  • Mike McGlynn OG

While there is a lot of names on that list, the Colts have the money to resign the players from that list whom they believe to be the most important to the future success of the team, and still have enough money leftover to sign a big name player elsewhere in free agency.  The Colts would’ve been set up to  make a huge leap forward this offseason with a large infusion of both free agency talent, and young talent via the NFL draft.  The Colts will still be able to bring in solid talent from free agency, but the Colts stupidly traded away their first round pick in exchange for Trent Richardson.  When the Colts first made this trade, I criticized the Browns for trading away their best offensive player.  Shortly after the trade, I was calling Browns GM Michael Lombardi a genius for securing a first round pick for someone who ran for 536 yards, 3 TD’s, and had a yards per carry average of 3.0.  A first round pick in this years talent loaded draft could have given the Colts a starting quality player at a position of need.  While the Colts did blow it on the Richardson trade, they can still improve this year in free agency, and with Andrew Luck as their QB they’ll be in Super Bowl contention for years to come.  My fourth and final AFC Super Bowl contender in the near future is the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals were yet again ousted in the first round of the playoffs this year by the San Diego Chargers at home (they were 8-0 at home in the regular season).  Andy Dalton put up another dismal playoff performance throwing for 334 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INT’s; he also lost a fumble giving him a total of three turnovers for the game.  In my opinion if the Bengals want to be a real contender, they need to find a new quarterback.  Still, the rest of the Bengals roster is pretty solid.  The offense averaged the third most yards per game in the league, while the defense gave up the fifth fewest yards per game.  To me the Bengals are just a good quarterback away from going from a good team to an elite one.  Like the Colts, the Bengals have a fairly large amount of cap space to work with which comes out to be about $26.6M. The Bengals have 14 free agents this year which include:

  • Michael Johnson DE
  • Anthony Collins OT
  • Andrew Hawkins WR
  • Chris Crocker S
  • Joe Mays S
  • Brandon Tate WR
  • Brandon Ghee CB
  • Vincent Rey OLB
  • Mike Pollack OG
  • Alex Smith TE
  • Dan Sanzenbacher WR
  • Dennis Roland OT
  • Zoltan Mesko P
  • Ogemdi Nwagbo DT

Unlike the previous three teams, the Bengals don’t have multiple “key” free agents with (in my opinion) Michael Johnson being their only “must resign” type of player.  They could also make a big splash in free agency, perhaps TJ Ward to play SS opposite Reggie Nelson?  Only time will tell, but if the Bengals keep improving via the draft and free agency, and get themselves a better QB, they will most definitely be Super Bowl contenders in the near future.  Those four teams are the biggest obstacles in the  way of the Chiefs  winning the Super Bowl.  Let’s take a look at how the Chiefs stack up.

As far as talent goes, I’d say that the Chiefs stack up pretty evenly in overall roster talent with the other four teams, and (in my opinion) even best the Colts and Bengals.  The Chiefs also have a great coaching staff much like the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and Indianapolis Colts (Marvin Lewis is a good coach not a great coach in my opinion).  So far, the Chiefs are stacking up pretty well against top tier competition.  Where the Chiefs are not equal to their AFC foes is in cap space.  In the upcoming offseason, the Chiefs will have a minuscule $2.5M in free cap space available.  The Chiefs have 15 free agents this year which include:

  • Branden Albert OT
  • Geoff Schwartz OG
  • Jon Asamoah OG
  • Dexter McCluster WR
  • Kyle Williams WR
  • Tyson Jackson DE
  • Akeem Jordan MLB
  • Frank Zombo OLB
  • Kendrick Lewis S
  • Hussain Abdullah S
  • Quintin Demps S
  • Thomas Gafford LS
  • Richard Gordon TE
  • Ricky Henry OG
  • Jerrell Powe NT
  • Robert James LB

There are some names on the list that have been starting for the Chiefs for several years who I honestly don’t think will be Chiefs at the start of next season.  If the Chiefs are going to improve from last year John Dorsey is going to have to make some moves to free up cap space, and have a successful draft.  I think free agents like Golden Tate, and Stevie Brown could come in for not very much money, and make an impact on this team.  There are also numerous players who the Chiefs could draft this year that could start from day one, like Stephon Tuitt, Marqise Lee, or Jace Amaro.  To answer the question stated in the title of this article, “How Close are the Chiefs to Winning a Super Bowl?”  I believe the Chiefs are close to winning a Super Bowl, closer than we’ve been in years.  I think that the AFC dynasties are starting to crumble (Denver, New England), and new dynasties are beginning to rise (Kansas City, Indianapolis, Cincinnati).  Unfortunately, I also think that our window for winning a Super Bowl is very small given the age of some of our important defensive player such as Tamba Hali, and Derrick Johnson.  It has been 45 years since the Chiefs won a Super Bowl, but I think that drought could end very soon if the correct moves are made in the offseason, and I have faith that Andy Reid and John Dorsey will do just that.  Hopefully very soon we’ll see Andy Reid giving the “we’re number one” sign with his right hand while holding the hallowed Lombardi Trophy in his left hand.

This is my first post here on Chiefs 360, and I hope it’s the first of many.  For future reference, I will always welcome your opinions on what I write.  Tell me if you agree with what I said, or if you disagree with what I said.  Your opinions will help make me a better writer.  Also, feel free to tell me how you think I could improve my articles.  I want to write what you guys want to read so if you have suggestions for me, leave a comment.

Last, but certainly not least, GO CHIEFS!!!

 

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