How the Chiefs Will Win the West

With the first week of OTA’s behind us, we have our first, real-time data points for the 2012-13 season. Now granted, we have very little data, but that still won’t stop us Addicts from prognosticating about the regular season. We’ll learn more as training camp starts, but for now, here’s an early summer look at the top five reasons the Chiefs will win the West, and the top five reasons they won’t.

Let me be the first to say that this post is a bit unfair to our stars – Tamba Hali, Brandon Flowers, Derrick Johnson and others. I’m assuming a consistent level of production from them in 2012. This post highlights potential new developments that can seal Kansas City’s fate.

Top 5 Reasons the Chiefs Won’t Win the West

Setting aside injuries, which can strike anytime and is probably the top reason that teams don’t meet their potential, here are the top five reasons why the Chiefs won’t win the West. Of course, I hope none of these things happen, but if they do, each of them would explain a season that doesn’t meet our hopes and expectations. I’ll list these in reverse order, based on the difficulty of overcoming each challenge.

5.  Succup and the special teams units have a bad year. Succup’s start last year made us nervous, missing three of his first four attempts. He then righted the ship, hitting twenty-one in a row before those two, disastrous blocks in week 16 against the Raiders. Dustin Colquitt had a phenomenal year, but the coverage units and return teams just played horribly, resulting in the release of special teams coach Steve Hoffman when Romeo became head coach. With special teams becoming more and more important as teams battle for field position, another bad year in this department will doom the Chiefs.

4.  Dwayne Bowe sits out. Most reports have Bowe returning with the franchise tag. But what if he sits one out? Even with Jonathan Baldwin’s spectacular OTA performances, no team can replace a receiver of Bowe’s caliber. Losing Bowe would be devastating – probably worth 2-3 losses by himself as Cassel has his primary weapon removed.

3.  Dontari Poe is a bust. We drafted Poe to fill our greatest hole – nose tackle. If Poe is a bust, we have a giant gaping hole in our running game, and no push up the middle in the passing game. Last year, we saw in the first half of the season what this hole will do to an otherwise talented defense.

2.  Brandon Carr can’t be replaced: None of us – I mean none of us – were happy to see Brandon Carr go. We wish him the best of luck and know he will do great in that state to the south of us. Last year, our defense excelled in no small part because Flowers and Carr shut down the outside, with little to no assistance. If we have a weak link on the outside, we have to shift our defense to help, which greatly hurts are ability to stuff the run and apply pressure to the QB. Stanford Routt, no pressure, but you gotta come through, and BIG.

1.  Psychology: We all know, we have a tough start to the season. In the Falcons, Bills, Saints, Chargers and Ravens, we face teams that were 49-31 combined last year. The easiest of those games – the Bills – is in Buffalo, and don’t forget, they picked up Mario Williams in the offseason. If we enter week 6 at 0-5 or 1-4, will we have the mental toughness to bounce back and go 10-1 or 9-2 the rest of the way? With the Broncos and Chargers still loaded with talent, it’s going to take a 10-6 record to make the playoffs.

Top 5 Reasons the Chiefs Will Win the West!

Now for the fun part. Here are the top five reasons the Chiefs will win the West! We’ll start the countdown with number five.

5.  Creative offense: Brian Daboll brings a creative mind to the Chiefs offense, and he’s got the unpredictable weapons to keep defenses on their toes. With Dexter McCluster and Devon Wylie in particular, double tight end sets and a host of offensive playmakers, we have the makings for some fun, surprising offensive production.

4.  Jonathan Baldwin shines: Baldwin was the star of last week’s OTA’s, showing why we spent a first round pick on him last year. With speed, incredible hops and great hands, Baldwin can only improve. The question is, can he become a consistent threat? What’s a defense to do when they have to choose who they put their top cornerback on – Bowe or Baldwin? Then you’ve still got Breaston, Wylie, Moeaki and Boss. It would be a bit of a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.

3.  Justin Houston is feared: We’ve all talked about it. Houston came on so strong at the end of 2011. If he starts where he left off, we will be in competition with the best in the league in QB pressures and sacks. Houston could be the missing link we’ve been searching for to complement Tamba Hali. Imagine Houston and Hali on the edges  with the middle sealed by Poe, Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson. If Houston is feared, that means more three and outs, more turnovers, better field position and more sacks.

2.  Charles + Hillis = 2,500 yards: Let’s face it – we love it when the Chiefs run, and run hard. Whether Christian Okoye and Barry Word, Priest Holmes and the Back-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, or Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, we have the potential to see the next chapter in great running back duos with Charles and Peyton Hillis. If Eric Winston, Brandon Albert, Rodney Hudson, Ryan Lilja and Jon Asamoah rise to their potential, get ready for some serious, smashmouth, downhill running, clock-eating, open-up-the-passing-game running attack.

1.  Big Big Big Plays: Good teams make big plays when they are most needed. Whether it’s a 35 yard Jamaal Charles run, a deep pass to Bowe, a sack by Tamba or a clutch interception or stuff by Derrick Johnson, the Chiefs need more big plays at key moments. We didn’t have enough of them last year, but that’s what Eli Manning, Troy Palamalu, Tom Brady, Arian Foster, Ed Reed and other superstars do at just the right moments.

Addicts, which of these positive and negative predictions do you think will come true?

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