Kansas City Chiefs (10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS, 1st Place in AFC West)
Expectations were low for the Kansas City Chiefs entering the 2010-2011 season. Most experts figured the Chiefs would be at or near the bottom of the AFC West once again, but the team vaulted to the top of the division and hosted a first-round playoff game. The Ravens came into Arrowhead Stadium and beat the Chiefs after Kansas City lost its star running back Jamaal Charles to an injury. Though the season ended in disappointment, last season was a huge step in the right direction for the Chiefs.
It seems the day that the Chiefs got on the right track was the day they hired Scott Pioli to be the General Manager of the team. Pioli picked up Todd Haley as the head coach, and together they worked to change the culture in Kansas City. No player was going to automatically have a starting spot anymore. The Chiefs have successfully built a team that can contend in just about every game because of their ability to run the football. Kansas City led the NFL in rushing yards per game last season with 164.2.
Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones form a nice tailback tandem that really carries the load on a weekly basis for this offense. Charles ran for 1,467 yards last year, and he appears destined for stardom in the NFL. The offensive line does a nice job in both run blocking and pass protection. Dwayne Bowe hauled in 15 touchdown passes last year, and Matt Cassel was much improved as compared to his first season in Kansas City. Still, the Kansas City offense lacked balance because of their inability to get the ball downfield through the air. In fact, Cassel completed just 14 out of 57 pass attempts that were 20 yards or more downfield.
Kansas City’s improvement on defense was one of the main reasons why they were able to jump to the top of the standings last season. The Chiefs are really building an impressive defensive line. Kelly Gregg was signed in the offseason and he will join with Glenn Dorsey in the middle to help clog the running lanes. Tamba Hali is one of the best pass rushing defensive ends in football, and he may be the defense’s most important player. Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr are an underrated pair of cornerbacks that do a nice job keeping the opposing receivers in check. Eric Berry struggled at times in his rookie season, but I fully expect him to be a very good safety for this team in the years ahead.
Kansas City Chiefs 2011-2012 NFL Prediction: 8-8 (2nd Place in AFC West)
Charlie Weis is no longer the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs, and that could set the offense back a little bit this season. Expect defenses to really key in on the run game and make Cassel beat them with his arm. Kansas City would be well served to feast on their easy schedule to start the season, because they have to go through the gauntlet at the end of the season. I think the Chiefs have definitely improved as an organization, but I feel like they overachieved a bit last year. Look for the Chiefs to finish around .500 this season.
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