The Road Is Long

The Schedule is out and now we know the who, the when, and the where of the Kansas City Chiefs regular season. I thought I would take a look at what we call “The Fixture List” over here in the UK and make some rash predictions as to where we might end up by the end of this season.

My first observation is that this fixture list is top-heavy and the potential stings are in the head rather than the tail.

My second is that although other teams may have risen or fallen through the draft and free agency, I am as sure as I can be that the Chiefs’ offence has improved both in strength and depth and the defence will continue to be serviceable.

Lastly, every team on this schedule will be trying to dial up the magic sauce to keep the Mahomes lightning in the bottle and a few of them will find it.

It might help to look at 2019 and 2020 Who has beaten us in a game that mattered when we were at anything like full strength and how did it happen?
Indianapolis Colts 2019 The Colts combined a decent running game with a defence that were all having a good day, maybe their best day ever. For once our O-Line looked very vulnerable to the rush and #15 was often scrambling for his life. Where have I seen that before?
Houston Texans 2019 We score off 3rd and 21 but once again, on too many plays, Mahomes was effectively rushed on the line.
Tennessee Titans 2019 2 minutes left and we’re 5 points up and somehow it slips away as Ryan Tannehill discovers late-game form and the Titans block the last-second field goal.
Las Vegas Raiders 2020 Near perfect disciplined pass coverage with a robber. The Raiders planned for us not having a killer running game. This may be the closest any team has come to finding the Mahomes kryptonite.

That’s it folks. You can’t legislate for a whole team turning in lifetime performances or 2 minutes of special teams madness. From a two season sample, I reckon that if we have a healthy QB, a credible running game, a defence that can get us back on the field quickly and some quality pass protection, we win most games.

So with the preamble said and done , on to my predictions and as with my NFL draft piece, it is highly likely that I will be returning to these hot takes later in the year.

Pre-Season Games, or “Friendlies” as we call them over here in the UK.

Lets not kid ourselves, these are the shake down cruises where you hope not to have season ending injuries to any of your key players. There is a bran tub randomness to the line-ups and they may not prove a lot. Last season we got by without them but in 2019 we lost three out of three to the Steelers, 49ers and Packers.

Later that same season we beat the 49ers, lost again to the Packers with our backup QB Matt Moore and never saw the Steelers again. I think these games are impossible to predict and also pointless to predict. How much do we want to be sure that the Mahomes toe is fully rehabilitated?

How much fine-tuning will we do on the fly during these games? The 49ers will be keen to see us but it won’t be a Superbowl replay. The Cardinals will be better than we expect and the Vikings, well it’s the Vikings with a fresh-looking team that still doesn’t have a settled and effective defence.

Regular Season Games

So here we go into the full-on season experience and I have to say that it looks like a hard road filled with a lot of teams who are also looking to have a winning season. Still, we’re the Chiefs and our team is built for having a very winning season.

Week 1 Cleveland Browns Home Win 34 – 31
After years in the wilderness, could the Browns be turning the corner? They’ve worked hard to build a better, stronger, faster defence this offseason. Baker Mayfield is starting to come good more regularly. I think we still come out top in a high scoring shoot out and the difference will be special teams.

Week 2 Baltimore Ravens Away Loss 24-17
The tough games keep coming. They blitz a lot and love pressuring the QB. They also run the ball a lot. It would not be a surprise if Sammy Watkins plays out of his skin. If we cruise this, then it will be a good benchmark for the rest of the season. My heart is telling me that the Ravens are going to edge it by a score and that we’ll learn from the experience.

Week 3 LA Chargers Home Win 27-20
Like us, the Chargers have decided not to let their QB become a tackling dummy after a year when Justin Herbert saw a lot of turf from close up. He won’t be so easy to hunt down this season and he has a decent arm. Do they have the defensive quality to hold us down for 60 minutes? Probably not. We won’t shut Herbert out but we’ll do enough to win our first divisional game at Arrowhead,

Week 4 Eagles Away Win 38-10
I think that the chances are that the Eagles have a couple more years of rebuilding before they can hope to win against the top-quality teams. Jalen Hurts is going to have a hard time, suffer a lot of pressures and if the line starts to break down, this might just become a sack fest against a background of Mahomes picking apart their secondary. Not a blowout but comfortable.

Week 5 Buffalo Bills Home Loss 13-10
Buffalo are quite simply a very good team. Five games in, they will have found their feet and had four lots of our game tape to study. Josh Allen knows how to find good passes and has a decent line to work behind. I expect them to have as effective a pass rush as we will come across this season and if we can’t get the running game going there will be trouble ahead. I’m hoping that we have a lot of run-pass option but I’m predicting a very narrow win for Buffalo in a canny low scoring game.

Week 6 Washington Football Team Away Win 34-12
Ryan Fitzpatrick is my second favourite QB. There’s something about his jolly journeyman pro made good image. Players seem to go the extra mile for him. I like him, but not enough to back him to lead Washington to victory against us.

Week 7 Tennessee Titans Away Win 24-7
Another team that is predicted to be strong this season. It seems to me that we have a lot of strong-looking teams at the start of the schedule. This may play well for us as we face the allegedly weaker teams later in the season when injuries start to take their toll. Tennessee looks like a team on the rebuild to me and I’m not backing Ryan Tannehill to recapture his 2019 magic one more time. This could easily be another contest where our pass game picks the opponent’s secondary apart in detail.

Week 8 New York Giants Home Win 31-9
I see this as an opportunity to put in a commanding performance with all of our teams firing on all cylinders. The Giants haven’t had a winning season for some years now and it isn’t realistic to think that will be arriving at Arrowhead with a winning record. We won’t help them make that better.

Week 9 Green Bay Packers Home Win 41-20 or Win 41-34
With Rodgers or without Rodgers? That is the question. I believe that we win either way if only because even if Aaron Rodgers stays, a house divided against itself cannot stand. If he goes, it is Jordan Love in the spotlight and he will be having an interesting season. They will continue to have a really good offence but the poison is seeping into the dressing room there and they won’t be good enough to outscore us on the day whoever they have under centre.

Week 10 Las Vegas Raiders Away Win 27-13
Our second divisional game and by all accounts the Raiders have gone backwards during the offseason although there was less Draft craziness after the first round. Is Derek Carr a franchise QB? Yes, he is. Does he have a franchise team around him? No, he does not. This should add to our tally of divisional wins without too much trouble.

Week 11 Dallas Cowboys Home Loss 24-21
I have a younger brother who lives in Texas; he even took US citizenship. But he’s a Texans fan, so I don’t need to spare his feelings. Dallas had a shocking season in 2020-21 after Dak Prescott was injured. Unfortunately for us Dak is recovered enough for the Cowboys to offer him a lot more money to keep playing for them. I have flip flopped about this one but in the end I settled on a high scoring Cowboy win as I think their defence will be just better than ours whilst the offences will be matched.

Week 12 BYE WEEK

Week 13 Denver Broncos Home Win 33-10
Another divisional game against our old friends the Broncos. Teddy? Teddy Bridgewater? Traded for a 6th round draft pick? That Teddy Bridgewater? Maybe Drew Lock the human interception machine? Either way, there is little in last season or this to suggest that the Broncos are going home with a win.

Week 14 Las Vegas Raiders Home Win 34-13
A successive divisional game as we bring the Raiders back home and again I expect a relatively straightforward win against an opponent that seems to be struggling to rise above middling performance anonymity.

Week 15 LA Chargers Away Win 17 -10
The divisional games are coming thick and fast now as we travel to play the Chargers. I cant help but feel that this one is the game where we get to sew up the AFC West competition again. I’d hate to see us go to another Superbowl with a divisional rival claiming any season bragging rights. I see the Chargers as our competition and if we can put them away, the rest of the regular season will give us an opportunity to perhaps rest some players, on the run in to the play offs. This game will be won on defence and again, I think we edge it. Herbert vs Mahomes is going to be a regularly great game for years to come though.

Week 16 Pittsburgh Steelers Home Win 28-10
There isn’t anything that has changed much since the Steelers imploded last year, Big Ben is in his twilight years and the backup Mason Rudolph is competent rather than spectacular. They’re heading into a few years of rebuilding I think and shouldn’t challenge us too hard

Week 17 Cincinnati Bengals Away Win 20 -13
Nearly at the finish post and if there was a run in-game where we could rest a few players, this is it. Joe Burrows seems a nice enough chap but I remain to be convinced that the Bengals have built an offensive line that will save him from another dispiriting season-long drubbing. Due to my belief that by this stage of the season we may not be playing all the key pieces, I am not predicting a blow out.

Week 18 Denver Broncos Away Win 38 – 10
The last game and of course it is a divisional game. For Kansas City, the play-offs beckon and for the Broncos I’m afraid it will be another losing season for their fans to forget. Mahomes sits out the 4th quarter and we head into the playoffs with a 14-3 record.

Those are all my stupidly early predictions. Feel free to shoot me down in flames in the comments if you disagree. I look forward to debating them with you although my replies tend to come with a six-hour time lag.