Last Wednesday, the NFL released the 2014 NFL schedule. It has been a busy week for me and several others have already begun to analyze how the Kansas City Chiefs may fare in the upcoming season, but I wanted to add my thoughts and predictions on a game-by-game basis, starting with the first half of the season. Considering that the draft is only 9 days away and will likely affect how the Chiefs roster plays out, my thoughts may change. However, I wanted to provide a quick analysis of the first 8 games, and will add my thoughts on the second half of the season later. Feel free to comment at the end and provide your own thoughts:
9/7 Game 1 – Home against the Tennessee Titans. This game will be a homecoming for Dexter McCluster who signed with the Titans when free agency opened. You can bet that a huge season opening crowd at Arrowhead will want to keep him out of the end zone on kick returns. Chiefs win 21-14 with Alex Smith playing mistake-free.
9/14 Game 2 – At Denver Broncos. This will be the second tough game in a row for the Broncos, who play the Colts in Week 1. The Chiefs face a tough task on the road and will need to mimic what the Seattle Seahawks did in the Super Bowl to have a chance at winning. Seattle’s defense made Peyton Manning uncomfortable, forcing bad passes and turnovers, and used their athletic linebackers to stuff plays all over the field. The Chiefs have a similar set of athletic linebackers but will need their corners to shut down Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders (not to mention Wes Welker). I do not see the Chiefs’ secondary playing shut-down, and Denver wins 30-20.
9/21 Game 3 – At Miami Dolphins. This offseason, the Dolphins picked up Knowshon Moreno from the Broncos, and stole Branden Albert from the Chiefs. They finished last season 8-8, with signature wins against the Patriots, Steelers and Colts, but pathetic losses against the Bills and Jets. At best they are mediocre and do not pose much of a threat to the Chiefs. This will be a game that Jamaal Charles goes crazy. Chiefs win 34-17 behind 200-plus yards and 2 td’s from Charles.
9/29 Game 4 – Home against the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. This game is a huge matchup for the NFL and the Chiefs. Two teams that made the 2013 playoffs, in the loudest stadium in the NFL, on MNF. Even though I feel that the Patriots are on the decline, Tom Brady knows how to win, even in hostile environments, and the Chiefs may not have enough offense to keep up. Patriots win a close one 28-24.
10/5 Game 5 – At San Francisco 49ers. For the second week in a row (and third time in five games), the Chiefs will play a team that made the playoffs in 2013. If the Chiefs can make it to this game 2-2, I think they will be all right. The 49ers were quiet in the offseason, Really all they did was trade a 6th round draft pick for Blaine Gabbert. Like the Chiefs, they have very little salary cap space to sign free agents, and therefore will be hoping their current roster and draft picks propel them to the Super Bowl. However, Colin Kaepernick is inconsistent, and the Chiefs will have been tested a little more at this point in the season. Chiefs win 27-21.
10/12 BYE week. Jamaal Charles will probably need this week more than anyone.
10/19 Game 6- At San Diego Chargers. The Chiefs play yet another playoff opponent. After losing two to the Chargers last season, I certainly hope the Chiefs avenge those losses, but it is hard to win two straight on the road in the NFL. Chargers win 38-20.
10/26 Game 7 – Home against the St. Louis Rams. This is the start of the Chiefs’ easiest 3-game stretch on their schedule. The Rams were fairly inconsistent last season, and there has been talk that their quarterback Sam Bradford might be traded in favor of a more reliable passer. I can see the Rams putting up a fight for the Governor’s Cup, but the Arrowhead crowd and KC defense may be too much for them. Chiefs win 35-14.
11/2 Game 8 – Home against the Jets. The Jets made some waves this offseason by signing Michael Vick to be their backup quarterback. Unless he beats out Geno Smith. Neither one will be a problem for the Chiefs and Arrowhead. Chiefs win 28-22.
After the first 8 games, I predict the Chiefs will be 5-3, including 3-1 at home and 2-2 on the road. That would be very respectable and set the Chiefs up for the second half of their schedule, which will include 4 games against their divisional foes. I will take a look at the second half of their schedule in the next few days.