Michael Swain | @mswain97
The Kansas City Chiefs have made a habit of making the playoffs in recent years.
As a matter of fact, since 2013, they have only missed the playoffs once – in 2014 when they went 9-7 and were beat out by the Bengals and Ravens, who both had 10 wins.
For the 2017 season, the Chiefs will make the playoffs again. The loss of Jeremy Maclin puts a dent in the receiving core, but Maclin never really fit what the Chiefs offense was about with Alex Smith taking the snaps.
Smith is a great quarterback who can get a team into the playoffs. He has shown it in San Francisco before getting hurt, and he has shown it now in Kansas City. The addition of Patrick Mahomes II will only push Alex Smith more since he now knows who his ultimate successor will be.
The Chiefs defense is still as good as it was last season. Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Marcus Peters make up a defense that is potent at every level. The defense is effective because it can create offense by forcing turnovers and getting pick-sixes.
In the past five years, only a handful of teams that won 10 games did not make the playoffs. The Chiefs should reach that win total without a problem. The Chiefs were gifted a moderately easy schedule this year after a tough first game in Foxboro against the Patriots.
With games against the difficult NFC East, the Chiefs will need to be on their game when they travel to Dallas and then to New York after their bye week in between those games. They play the Eagles and Redskins at home in Weeks 2 and 4, which should both be wins.
In addition to playing the NFC East, the Chiefs were gifted games against the AFC East. Besides the Patriots, the division is very weak and the Chiefs will have no problems with the Bills, Jets and Dolphins.
Six wins will come from those eight games.
Within the division, the Chiefs will need to defend Arrowhead Stadium as they have in the past and not lose a game at home to a division rival. If the Chiefs do drop a game at home it will be against the Raiders in Week 15. By that time, the Chiefs should have the division in the bag.
As much hype as there is with the Raiders, Derek Carr has yet to play a full game since his leg injury against the Colts last season. Not to mention, Marshawn Lynch has not played a down in over a year. The Raiders have all the signs pointing to a down season after bursting onto the scene last year.
If the Chiefs can get to the coveted 10 win mark, they will again find themselves playing in the playoffs.
Ethan Belshe | @The_Belshe
The Kansas City Chiefs are at a crossroads. After a home playoff loss to end last season and a tumultuous offseason it would appear that the Chiefs are headed for a downturn. Though they have made the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, the Chiefs will not be playing in the 2017 postseason.
The Chiefs made two potentially franchise-altering decisions in June. On June 2, No. 1 receiver Jeremy Maclin was unexpectedly released from the team. Three weeks later, general manager John Dorsey was also unexpectedly let go.
Given the surprising timing of these decisions, the Chiefs have an air of uncertainty hanging around them as they prepare to begin the regular season. This does not bode well for either the team’s momentum or its chemistry.
Another spot of uncertainty for Kansas City is its offense. Though second-year speedster Tyreek Hill will be expected to seamlessly transition into the No. 1 receiver role, it remains to be seen whether or not he will be able to match last season’s production (61 catches, 598 yards, and six touchdowns) in an increased role.
Starting running back Spencer Ware’s season-ending knee injury in the third preseason game against the Seahawks has raised even more questions of the offense. With all-time leading rusher Jamaal Charles having been released in February, Kansas City must now turn to a trio of running backs to carry the ground game.
Third round draft choice Kareem Hunt out of Toledo has impressed in the preseason and appears to be in position to take Ware’s spot on the depth chart, but it is unknown whether his body will be able to hold up to the wear and tear of a full NFL season.
Veterans C.J. Spiller and Charcandrick West represent two other backfield options for Andy Reid, but neither averaged more than 3.3 yards per carry last season.
This offensive uncertainty is especially concerning given that the Chiefs could not muster a single touchdown in the divisional round playoff loss to the Steelers last season.
Though the Chiefs won 12 games en route to the AFC West title and the second seed in the playoffs, Kansas City’s season was not as dominant as it may have appeared. Seven of the Chiefs’ 12 victories last season came by one touchdown or less.
Had one or two plays gone differently in those seven games, the Chiefs easily could have finished 8-8 and missed out on the playoffs entirely.
It will be incredibly hard for the Chiefs to recreate this type of performance in close games for a second season in a row, especially with one of the hardest schedules in the NFL.
Seven of the Chiefs’ 12 opponents made the playoffs last year and the combined winning percentage of all opponents from last season is the second highest in the NFL at .576.
Simply put, the Chiefs don’t have it in them to make a push for the playoffs this season. With so many questions about where offensive production will come from, as well as a hard schedule, the Chiefs’ luck is due to run out.
— Edited by Gabrielle Cinnamon