The NFL released the Chiefs 2013 schedule tonight and the things look favorable for a potential playoff run.
FIRST HALF FAVORS A GOOD START
If the Chiefs make the playoffs it will be decided in the first nine weeks.
Kansas City will play only one playoff team from the 2012 season, the Houston Texans, in the first nine weeks of the season, and six opponents will be drafting in the top of the draft next week. This could be the soft opening schedule the Chiefs need to pad their record for a potential run at a playoff spot.
The key to the first half will be winning the games they should win, specifically the games against the weaker teams. Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Oakland, Cleveland and Buffalo are all games Kansas City should feel they can win. While four of those games are on the road – Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Tennessee, and Buffalo – they are still winnable games. If the Chiefs win four of those game, they’ll be in the playoff hunt for a wildcard spot. If the win five or all six of them then the division will be in reach.
The three games the Chiefs will play against non-bottom 10 teams from last year will be the Dallas Cowboys (at home), New York Giants (at home), and the Houston Texans (at home). I don’t think the Chiefs could have drawn a better scenario for putting themselves in a good spot heading into their bye week in week 10.
DIVISION WILL BE WON (OR LOST) IN THE SECOND HALF
Five of the Chiefs six division games will be played in the final seven weeks of the season, with tough games against the Indianapolis Colts (at home) and Washington Redskins (on the road) sandwiched in between. To make things more difficult, three of the final four games will be on the road with the one home game being against the Colts.
The heavy back-weighted schedule may end up favoring the Chiefs given all of the new faces they will have starting for them this season. If the Chiefs have a good start in the first half of the season – say, 6-3 – then the Chiefs would need only to win three or four games in the final seven games to potentially clinch a wildcard.
The key will be the three home games against San Diego, Denver, Indianapolis. The more of those games that they win, the less pressure they’ll feel to win the four road games on the schedule. The good news is that whatever happens in the first half, the Chiefs will control their fate in the second half because of all the division games.
BEST CASE SCENARIO
Kansas City takes advantage of their soft opening schedule and come out of the box 7-2, with losses to Philadelphia and Houston. The 7-2 start gives the Chiefs the cushion they need to take a couple of lumps at Denver and Washington in the second half of the season. A key win at home against Indianapolis makes a loss to a desperate San Diego team at the end of the season easier to swallow and the Chiefs slide into the top wild card spot with a 11-5 record.
WORST CASE SCENARIO
The Chiefs win the opener at Jacksonville but then drop three straight to Dallas, Philadelphia, and New York. Stunned, they drop a fourth straight game to the Titians on the road. They stop the streak by beating a struggling Oakland team at home before getting walloped the following week by the Houston Texans. A win over Cleveland at home precedes yet another loss to the Buffalo Bills on the road, leaving the Chiefs at 3-5 heading into the bye week.
The last thing the 3-5 Chiefs need is to have to play the division leading Denver Broncos two of the next three weeks. After the road loss to Denver, Kansas City shows signs of life by beating the San Diego Chargers at home on a last second interception by Philip Rivers. The hope is crushed swiftly by the Broncos and Washington to send the team to 4-8. A win at Oakland gives KC some hope but Indianapolis and Andrew Luck prove too much at Arrowhead. KC then punts the final game of the season to finish 5-11.
MIDDLE OF THE ROAD
A solid draft keeps the Chiefs in contention through most of the season. Kansas City starts the season 5-3 with losses to Philadelphia, New York and Houston. Two key home wins over San Diego and Denver to start the second half of the season give the Chiefs to confidence to go on the road and win back-to-back games on the road against Washington and Oakland to get them to nine wins. Sadly, that’s where it ends. Indianapolis proves too much and a re-invigorated Chargers team wins and advances to the playoffs. KC finishes and improved but disappointing 9-7.
Now that the schedule is out, what are your early predictions for the Chiefs in 2013?