2014 NFL Preview: Kansas City Chiefs

2014 NFL Preview: Kansas City Chiefs

The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs raced off to a 9-0 start and advanced to the AFC Wild Card game. A season after going 2-14 and drafting number one overall, former Eagles head coach Andy Reid traded for quarterback Alex Smith and got a talent-laden defense to finally play as a cohesive unit. They faded down the stretch, losing five of seven, and blew a 38-10 lead against the Colts in the playoffs, which tarnished an otherwise fantastic season. The offseason didn’t do much to raise optimism; free agent departures, off the field incidents, contract impasses, and a questionable draft haul have some pundits believing Kansas City is heading for disappointment. Here’s a preview of their 2014 campaign.

Outlook: Andy Reid has won a lot of games during his 15 years in the league, but the challenge this season won’t be easy. The offensive line has been completely rebuilt, the wide receiving corps is still weak, and Justin Houston is threatening to hold out of training camp. Jamaal Charles is the most explosive dual-threat runner in the NFL, but he doesn’t have much help. Dwayne Bowe dropped weight in an effort to resurrect his declining career. After that, the offensive cupboard is bare. An extended absence from Houston could have a domino effect along the front seven, although Dontari Poe is a rising star at tackle.

New arrivals: Dee Ford was selected in the first round as insurance for Houston. He’s an explosive pass rusher, but his overall skill-set is limited. Third-round cornerback Phillip Gaines has the potential to be a Week 1 starter. De’Anthony Thomas was dynamic in the Pac 12, but is undersized and lacks durability. Chris Owens hasn’t recorded an interception since 2010 and is penciled in to start at LCB. Jeff Linkenbach slides into a starting guard spot after a subpar four years in Indy.

Wave goodbye: Offensive lineman Brandon Albert, Geoff Schwartz, and Jon Asamoah were all deemed too expensive to re-sign. Their exits could mean a lot less space for Charles to exploit. Tyson Jackson totaled only 9 sacks in five seasons and is now a Falcon. Dexter McCluster was supposed to be the next Darren Sproles. Instead, he was an average returner/third down back who was allowed to sign with the Titans. Thomas is expected to fill his role. Kendrick Lewis started 40 of a possible 41 games from 2011-13, but like Jackson, he joined the Falcons.

Over/under wins – 8: Oddsmakers clearly aren’t bullish about the Chiefs. They face the Broncos, Patriots, and 49ers in the first five weeks, and with the exception of Oakland, have no patsies on the schedule. If the O-line comes together, Bowe plays like a number one receiver, Houston ends his holdout early, and Charles stays healthy, they could return to the playoffs. That’s a lot of “ifs.”

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