What a crazy couple of weeks.
If you’re like me, you’re still struggling to put together everything that happened. Granted, the Chiefs were fairly quiet, but I can’t disagree with a single move they made. Still, obviously, the question of how they are going to do this year depends on much more than how they themselves improved. This year’s schedule will be much harder and all of our upcoming opponents have been busy.
Thus, to see how our upcoming adversaries stack up, I bring you my second Opponent Power Ranking of the year.
Disclaimer: I did my best to put in the latest and most complete FA info on each team, but I only counted FA’s that have been definitively signed or resigned. By the time you read this, there could be a whole swath of new developments.
See what we got coming after the jump:
1.) Packers- Trending: UP
FA Additions: None
FA Losses: FB Korey Hall, RB Brandon Jackson, DE Cullen Jenkins, TE Donald Lee, OLB Brady Poppinga, C Jason Spitz
The Packers are never really flashy in free agency and this year they don’t have to be. In addition to pulling a strong draft, they’re getting back tons of starters who were injured during their championship run last year. Even with Philadelphia’s FA shopping spree, I still think they are the team to beat in the NFC. But, that doesn’t make them invincible. The Redskins beat them in 2010 with a stifling pass defense, and running out the clock with their running game. In fact, the Packers lost a lot of close ones last season. If we can keep it close with good defense and clock management, we might be able to squeak one out against them. Still, it’ll probably require some freakish plays on our guys’ part and some boneheaded moves on their side.
2.) Steelers – Trending: UP
FA Additions: TE John Gilmore
FA Losses: DE Nick Eason, TE Matt Spaeth
The Steelers also didn’t do much in free agency, but they didn’t need to. Our O-line is still a work-in-progress at best and a liability at worst. The Steelers front seven will be able to eat their lunch, especially as we failed to add at least one starter on the line – which is what I viewed the Chiefs’ priority this offseason. Granted, we did beat them in 2009. But that was with a special teams TD (Jamaal Charles 97 yard return) and two INT’s from Studie – which may well be the best single-game stat line of his career. I don’t count on us being that lucky this year. Our best chance is to keep their dynamic offense off the field with as much magic from Charles as we can muster. But, the Steelers are a very similar team to the Ravens, and if they can squash our running game like Baltimore did in the playoffs … this will be a hard one to watch.
3.) Patriots – Trending: DOWN
FA Additions: C Chris Morris, DT Albert Haynesworth, WR Chad Ochocinco
FA Losses: DE Ty Warren, K Shayne Graham, FS Jarrad Page
I previously had the Patriots ranked #1 against KC, and only changed it because I’m not crazy about their free agency period. I know Belichek is a genius but I just don’t really see the Haynesworth and Ochocinco working out. They had no real pass rush and historically bad pass defense. Haynesworth essentially just replaces Ty Warren, but he’s incredibly inconsistent (I used to live in DC, trust me). But, obviously, it’s not their defense that scares people its their offense, and I still think that their arsenal of match-up nightmares is going to give our transitioning linebacking corps all sorts of headaches in the medium range passing game, which is what NE excels at. In the end, I don’t think the Chiefs are designed to be able to put up the kind of points that the Pats can day in and day out.
4.) Bears – Trending: STEADY
FA Additions: WR Roy Williams, WR Sam Hurd, RB Marion Barber, C Chris Spencer, TE Matt Spaeth, P Adam Podlesh, DT Amobi Okoye, DE Vernon Gholston,
FA Losses: TE Greg Olsen, DT Tommie Harris, WR Devin Aromashadu, WR Rashied Davis, WR Zeke Markshausen, OLB Brian Iwuh, P Brian Maynard, P Richmond McGee,
Despite a lot of free agency turnover, I think this team is poised to take a step forward. They have better players going in than coming out – Greg Olsen is a great TE, but Martz had no use for him in his offense. Other than that, they lost a perennially injured and disgruntled D-tackle two (huh?) punters and three C-team wide receivers. The addition of the Dallas Trio – Williams, Hurd, Barber – will add consistency to their offensive production – especially as bobble-hands Roy had his best season under Martz in Detroit. Cutler can still be counted on to throw questionable passes and I think the Brandons can take advantage of that. Still this is a hungry, dangerous team.
5.) Colts – Trending: UP
FA Additions: DT Tommie Harris, OLB Ernie Sims, TE Tyson DeVree, QB Nate Davis
FA Losses: C Charlie Johnson, DT Daniel Muir, OLB Clint Session, DB DaJuan Morgan
Obviously their upward trend depends on the health of a single player – Peyton Manning. Still, they had a strong draft and a free agency period that was essentially a wash. If they can get back their injured starters from last year, I think they will be able to coach up their rookies and regain some of their past prominence.
6.) Lions – Trending: UP
FA Additions: CB Eric Wright, MLB Stephen Tulloch, G Isaac Sowells, DT Quinn Pitcock, CB Maurice Leggett, OLB Justin Durant
FA Losses: DE Turk McBride
This is an up-and-coming team that will be dangerous going into 2011. This may in fact be one of our toughest games. Through the draft and free agency their shored up their defense – which was their only glaring weakness last year. I basically look at them as being even with the Jets. With a multitude of weapons and a healthy Matthew Stafford, this team will be hard to beat.
7.) Jets – Trending: DOWN
FA Additions: P Chris Bryan, DB DaJuan Morgan, DB Donald Strickland,
FA Losses: WR Braylon Edwards, WR Brad Smith, T Damien Woody, QB Kellen Clemens, CB Drew Coleman, DE Vernon Gholston, T Dan Gay, OLB Jason Taylor,
After trying hard to nab Nnamdi, their free agency was nothing than a whimper. While they locked down Santonio Holmes, I’m not sure who else Sanchez is going to throw to after the departure of Edwards and Smith – now Cotchery wants to test free agency. This is a team that, despite all the hype, is really just treading water while others get better around it.
8.) Chargers – Trending: DOWN
FA Additions: LB Takeo Spikes, DE Travis LaBoy
FA Losses: RB Darren Sproles, ILB, Kevin Barnett, ILB Brandon Siler, OLB Antwan Applewhite, WR Buster Davis, FS Paul Oliver, DB Donald Strickland
This positioning may be wishful thinking on my part, but some of the best recent news for us Chiefs fans came out of San Diego. Their defense got softer up the middle, while they lost their dynamic runner in Sproles, and reports are that Ryan Matthews showed up to camp way out of shape. He was injured and unimpressive last year, so I think the beast may have been finally weakened. Time for us to take back the division from them once and for all.
9.) Vikings – Trending: UP
FA Additions: QB Donavan McNabb, WR Michael Jenkins, WR Devin Aromashadu, LB Mark Washington, T Scott Kooistra, T Charlie Johnson, NT Remi Ayodele,
FA Losses: DE Ray Edwards, WR Sidney Rice, QB Tavaris Jackson, CB Frank Walter, FS Madieu Williams
The roster moves that the Vikes made in the offseason actually make this a real team. Sure, they are in a semi-rebuilding mode as they develop a young quarterback, but by adding McNabb they will also be able to win now. Now, I’m not saying they’re going to the playoffs, but with a respectable defense and an offense that will have its consistency back, this team will look a lot more like the 2009 Vikings than the 2010 version. I hope the Chiefs aren’t just looking past this team on their schedule, because they could surprise us.
10.) Dolphins – Trending: STEADY
FA Additions: QB Matt Moore, RB Reggie Bush, ILB Kevin Burnett, OLB Jason Taylor, OLB Jason Trusnik, T Marc Colombo, NT Ronald Fields
FA Losses: RB Ronnie Brown, DT Lionel Dotson, CB Al Harris, DB Terrail Lambert, QB Tyler Thigpen, OL Ray Lewis
I’m not really sure what this team’s plan is, other than to tread water and hope things get magically better. Reggie Bush will create some excitement in the fan base, but he’s not an every down back, and they’re giving Henne yet another chance to play snoozefest football. The only part of the team that is notably improved is their O-line. Whoopity doo.
11.) Raiders – Trending: DOWN
FA Additions: G Justin Smiley, T Stephon Heyer, QB Trent Edwards
FA Losses: CB Nnamdi Asomugha, TE Zach Miller, G Robert Gallery, WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, OLB Howard Thomas
Ha, and to think that in my last power rankings I was worried about these guys. While they swept us last year, they are the textbook example of an awfully built team. Their best defensive player and their best offensive player just left, and because of their rancid cap situation they have only been able to replace them with scrubs. Not to mention their O-line is in even worse shape than last year. I think it’s safe to say that the door will swing in totally the other direction this year. Mark down two wins thanks to Oakland.
12.) Broncos – Trending: UP
FA Additions: DE Ty Warren, DT Jeremy Jarmon, RB Willis McGahee, TE Dante Rosario, TE Daniel Fells, DE Derrick Harvey, WR David Anderson
FA Losses: WR Jabar Gaffney, DE Justin Bannan, T Ryan Harris, NT Ronald Fields, TE Daniel Graham
Who knows where this team is headed in the long term, but in the short term they will be better than expected simply by choosing Orton over Tebow. Still, they’re defense is in total flux and I see no reason to believe they will have a dependable run game – adding Willis McFinished isn’t going to change anything, and they lost their starting RT. They could surprise us once like they did last year, but I kind of doubt it now that McDaniel’s cameras have been removed from KC practices.
13.) Bills – Trending: DOWN
FA Additions: ILB Nick Barnett, WR/KR Brad Smith, QB Tyler Thigpen, WR Buster Davis, DT Lionel Dotson,
FA Losses: MLB Paul Posluszny
This team’s moves were the definition of moving laterally. Their top pick, Marcell Dareus, will probably be an inside beast, but they need to decide once and for all whether they are a 3-4 or a 4-3. Their offense leaves little to be excited about, despite occasionally overachieving. Still, I’m sure Chan Gailey will spend the entire month getting his troops ready to attempt to embarrass Todd Haley for firing him. I still imagine Gailey in a cold Buffalo coach’s office grumbling in frustration and wailing on a Haley voodoo doll.
Prediction: 10-6 – I think we will be lucky to beat three of our top six opponents, but I think we should be able to sweep Denver and Oakland this year. Still, there are some wild cards there in the middle and I’m afraid the Chiefs are going to be surprised a few times. All the same, I am now more optimistic than I was before free agency. I really like our WR and RB corps and I don’t think teams will be ready for us.
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