K.C. Chiefs: Long Division Calculations

When you go 2-14, the numbers have to change. Making AFC West Division calculations at this point may be a bit of a long shot, given that even the draft is still a month away, but the numbers are looking good for the Kansas City Chiefs right now.

The Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers have gone through some significant changes this off season, but the 2012 division champ Denver Broncos have only added to their already lethal offense. So, let’s preview just what it might take for the Chiefs to change the math, compete for the division crown, and possibly make the playoffs for the first time since since 2010.

The Oakland Raiders

At 4-12, the Raiders could hardly be called a better team than the Chiefs, though their overall record indicates otherwise. Two victories over the Chiefs plus a win over Jacksonville and a big home victory over the Steelers sealed their win total.

Losing 7 time Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler to the Houston Texans should impact Raiders games as much as any move they have made this off season. Negatively. It’s difficult to replace perhaps the best punter in the NFL over the past ten years. Lechler could pin teams inside the 10 with regularity and it’s taken 8 years for the Chiefs own star punter, Dustin Colquitt, to knock Lechler off his perch as the best in the AFC.

Scott Carasik of the Bleacher Report has written that the “Raiders Short-Term Pain, Offseason Inactivity, Will Equal Long Term Gain.” According to Sportrac, the Raiders are currently having to swallow more than $23 mil of Dead Money (see bottom of the chart) because of poor decisions made by the dearly departed Al Davis.

What this means for 2013 is that they will not be improving over last season and in all likelihood will be competing for the first pick in the 2014 draft. Bill Williamson claims they are still in need of anywhere from six to nine starters.

While the 2-14 KC Chiefs were represented in the Pro Bowl by 6 players, the Oakland Raiders sent only one, fullback Marcel Reece.

QB Carson Palmer will turn 34 before next season is over. Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards for the third time in his career in 2012 so he still appears to be a viable answer to lead the team. However, his 22/14 TD/INT ratio must improve for the Raiders to have any chance at all.

Since it looks like the Raiders aren’t going anywhere right away, the question in Oakland then becomes, who will be their QB of the future? Back-ups Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor are probably not going to provide the answer to that question so the future may have to come through the draft. Geno Smith anyone?

Now, the debate in Northern California is whether or not the San Francisco Giants, or 49ers, are the most popular team in the area? The Raiders aren’t even in the conversation and likely haven’t been for quite some time. Does this mean another move to L.A. is on the horizon? I wouldn’t put anything past an owner who has DNA alleles from Al Davis. However, what it means for now is that the team probably isn’t going to be competitive anytime in the near future. Not even in its own hometown.

2013 Prediction for the Raiders: 4-12

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The San Diego Chargers

The Chargers’ 7-9 record was an underachievement and consequently both coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith were left seeking other employment. Enter GM Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy. Telesco came over from Indy after years in their scouting system and Mike McCoy was the offensive coordinator for the Denver Mannings. If Ray Lewis can make a defensive coordinator… I guess Peyton can do the same for an OC.

In 2012 the Chargers were 9th in total defense and with a sixth ranked rushing defense that possessed a very strong front seven. While their passing defense was only ranked 18th, they managed to sign 6-1 CB Derek Cox who had 60 tackles, 4 INTs and a forced fumble last year. The defense appears to be set; while they may need to pick up a Safety, all indications are that they’ll be even better than last year defensively.

The real questions for the Chargers come on the offensive side of the ball. The biggest question is their offensive line. They signed 6-9, 330lb OT King Dunlap, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles. While he should be better than Jared Gaither at staying on the field and pass blocking, his deficiencies in run blocking may present a liability.

This is what truly ails the Chargers: an inconsistent offensive front. The pressure that teams were able to place on Philip Rivers last year—and the way Rivers dealt with that pressure—is the main reason the team didn’t succeed.

Although TE Antonio Gates is turning 33 this June he’s still near the top of his game and the only thing holding him back in recent years has been injuries. Malcolm Floyd is not Vincent Jackson but, is more than sufficient to make the passing game a real threat. However, with the leading rusher being Ryan Matthews at 707 yards, the Chargers will struggle to create a balanced attack and teams will continue to tee-off on Rivers unless the rushing game is addressed this off season.

In fact, the Chargers have had a problem generating yards on the ground ever since LaDainian Tomlinson left town. Only one back has been able to rush for more than 1,000 yards since LT was shown the door by ex-GM A.J. Smith.

Aside from the challenges that most clubs face on the field of play, the Chargers face stadium issues. Mainly that they’ve been having trouble selling out their games. Fan interest can be tricky, but in Southern California, where there are just a few other attractions to entertain one’s self with, it is even more of a challenge. In November of 2012, the Chargers had a game blacked out with the eventual Super Bowl Champion Ravens. Playing four of their last six game at home, the problem only worsened. You may even recall our own Patrick Allen exposing what became called “Ticket-Gate” when the Chargers began emailing opponents’ blogs asking them to buy tickets. San Diego has problems that run deeper than figuring out who might be their next left tackle.

2013 Prediction for the Chargers: 8-8

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The Denver Broncos

At 13-3, the Broncos were the AFC Champions and the only team in the division that looked good at all. To find a chink in the Broncos armor is difficult, but I’ll give it a try: Peyton Manning’s yards per carry is only .26. That’s point-two-six. Unfortunately for the rest of the division he’s not one of their running backs. His 4,659 yards passing was only surpassed by four other QBs in 2012.

Resigning Pro Bowl LT Ryan Clady and the re-emergence of RB Knowshon Moreno should help anchor the passing and running attacks for several years to come.

By adding Wes Welker this off season, the Broncos have made themselves even more difficult to stop offensively. With Welker on board, it’s hard to even imagine the Ravens 2012 defense stopping them.

The larger questions come on defense, although the Broncos don’t really have any huge question marks. Yes, Elvis has left the building. However, the Broncos should be able to sign either Dwight Freeney or John Abraham so there should not be any drop-off in the Broncos’ ability to pressure the QB. In the long run Dumervil will probably be happier in Baltimore because QB Joe Flacco should have a much longer career ahead of him than Peyton Manning does in Denver.

This will be a bit of a do-or-die year for the Broncos. Manning will play this season at the ripe young age of 37. If he plays another year he’ll obviously be 38. We haven’t seen very many 38-year-old QBs in this league play at a high level, but you’d assume if anyone could do it, it should be Manning. The point is, his career is winding down and it’s difficult to see him going beyond next season.

Consequently, it places a bit of extra burden on players like… Manning and CB Champ Bailey, who’ll step on the field at 35 years of age this season… to play like it’s now or never.

The Broncos defense could use a Safety but I’m guessing GM John Elway will get that done in the draft since this is a strong defensive backfield draft class.

The Denver Broncos only played five teams who had winning records last season and they lost three of them. The other two were Cincinnati and Baltimore, who they later lost to in the playoffs at home. AFC West teams have some of the most difficult schedules in the league next year so the Broncos will likely not win near as many games.

2013 Prediction for the Broncos: 10-6  

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The Kansas City Chiefs

The musical chairs have been in full force in Kansas City since the season ended. New coach Andy Reid now reports directly to owner Clark Hunt and the chain of command has forever been altered in fountain town. Enter new GM John Dorsey and his promise to make the teams better has only been matched by his tireless effort to get that done. The final analysis on whether or not all these changes will make the team better will come after the season begins but, its clear, the team will look different.

Almost as soon as Dorsey hit town, he and his sidekick Reid were making plans to change the Chiefs biggest weakness in 2012: the quarterback. The early reports and then eventual signing of Alex Smith may not have been globally accepted as the best move for the franchise, but surely was the follow through on their promise.

Alex Smith has shown he’s much improved in the past two years, and with Andy Reid’s guidance Smith should make the Chiefs competitive in every game they play this season.

The first week of Free Agency was one long thunderstorm in the middle of what seemed like a drought for KC fans. Signings included: a top TE, two strong CBs, the release of an OT and the signing of an OT, a backup QB with area ties.. .and the list goes on.

Bill Williamson of ESPN says he likes the changes they’ve made in the defensive backfield,

They were already good at linebacker; now they are strong in the secondary after adding cornerbacks Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson. Along with Brandon Flowers, this might be the best group of cornerbacks in the NFL. Throw in young safety Eric Berry and this is a powerhouse.

While the Chiefs are needing to find an ILB and perhaps big bruising RB as well as depth at several positions, the most glaring needs are now on the offensive line.

Holding the number one pick in the draft, the Chiefs have the luxury of either taking the best OT available or trading out and picking up multiple players who could make an impact this season.

No one can be sure that K.C. is ready to compete with the Broncos yet, but 4 Pro Bowlers and two new physical defensive backs on defense may indicate the Chiefs could be closer than you would think.

2012 Prediction for the Chiefs: 9-7

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With all the positive changes the Chiefs have made this off season it’s difficult not to project them as a competitive and winning team. If the Kansas City Chiefs can keep the division battle close until the end of the season, there’s no telling what might happen. Especially if there’s only one game separating the division leaders by then.

Well Addicts… you want to give it a shot and make your own Long Division Calculations… or… predictions?

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  • chiefridgy

    With the release of Romeo Crenell and Matt Cassel we automatically improve four games right there.

    • Chris Tarrants

      Don’t forget about false start Winston or the dead weight with boss and breaston

      • ladner morse

        Now… I kind of see all of those as cap clearing… except maybe Boss.

    • ladner morse

      The Alex Smith to Dwayne Bowe connection… because of Smith’s accuracy… should mean the Chiefs will be in many games that they could not have bee in last year.

    • toperspective

      At least. A really, really bad coach who was saddled with a really, really bad GM.

      • ladner morse

        Don’t you mean… a really, really bad QB with a a really, really bad coach with a a really, really bad GM?

        • toperspective

          Yes, my bad

  • ArrowFan

    If the D can not take a step back and the O improves just luck warmly we will see a 6 game win increase over last year 8-8. If the D holds and the O improves like wow we can now score more than twice a game, then we win 10 or more games 10-6.

    • ladner morse

      I’m down with that ArrowFan… but, I also think the OL will be a key… they must find a way to protect Smith. Of course… the west coast offense that Reid runs is a quick strike offense and completed passes may take a lot less time because of the timing routes.

    • elly violette

      Morse says 9 wins for the Chiefs this year… I say 11.

  • Danny W

    I’m saving any judgement about this team until the O line is settled. I think Alex Smith can be a good quarterback but he needs a really good offensive line. He holds on to the ball quite a bit instead of giving up a pick so I’d say he needs longer than most quarterbacks when it comes to passing. Gonna need some lineman who can hold the front or we will be picking this high next year.

    • ladner morse

      Danny… I feel the same way, about A.S. needing a really good OL. But, don’t you think that after all the changes Reid & Dorsey have made so far… that they will make sure that happens before camp?

      • Danny W

        I think they have a handicap right now in Albert. He is our stumbling block to improvement in my opinion. If they can’t move him then we don’t get to do anymore fixing due to our current cap number. I think moving him is key to the future.

        • ladner morse

          You know… the same could be said of Tamba Hali. He has a huge obtrusive contract and if this was his contract year we’d be having the same conversation about him Pioli did us no favors by over paying him. We’re in a “Replace existing Starter With a Cheaper” rookie mode… either way. I wonder if the Chiefs could restructure Hali’s contract or trade him and draft a top OLB? It’s not the best situation in any case.

          • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

            Actually, Pioli got a very good contract for Hali. We pay him a bundle this year but then his cap hit goes back down the year after.

        • Steve Blank

          what are you talking about? Albert is one of the best LTs in the league..how could he be a stumbling block? I dont follow that logic. There isnt alot wrong with our current cap number. He is still young…he needs to get a long term deal.

    • Steve Blank

      Im stoked about this new OL they just got. Schwartz is a beast. Go to pro football focus and read his grades…he graded better than the starters he played for….we may have gotten a steal right there

  • chri herring

    Alex Smith is by far the most underrated qb in the NFL.He is a good qb who has been through do much in his career and even after his best seasons in the pros there are still some people who can’t let the past die. KC fans, u guys should be grateful for having such a great QB and team leader. KC will be in the playoffs this season and will be the suprise team of the NFL.

    • ladner morse

      I agree. I remember thinking during the 2012 season… in fact I thought this repeatedly… that “if the Chiefs only had a good QB” then they’d be able to win and compete in a lot of games. Well, Smith is a good QB… maybe even better than that… and Reid and Dorsey have addressed other weaknesses too… so it’s hard for me to see ow the Chiefs won’t be competitive for a playoff spot.

    • Joe Myers

      I will give Alex smith this he did get better each season . He’s got a chip on his shoulder . I do believe that he really did want to come too KC . I think our defense will be steller and if the off scores at least 30% more rd zn the chieefs will be a beast team .

      • elly violette

        omg.. if the Chiefs could scoe 30%more in the red zone… whoa. On the other hand… it doesn’t seem that impossible because the Chiefs couldn’t score from anywhere on the field. Alex Smit hand Dwayne Bowe should give defenses big problems becuase if they go to defend the pass Jamaal Charles is going to kill them.

        • Joe Myers

          yeah they where Horrible in the red zone last year . What I was saying was any thing better would be an improvement .

      • Steve Blank

        well…Alex Smith has something like a 70% completion percentage in the redzone…that should help

  • berttheclock

    One switch in the AFC West I wanted to see happen, but, Denver beat KC to the punch. Louis Vasquez leaving SD for the Donkies is another major plus for Denver. I would have loved to have had him replacing Allen.

    • ladner morse

      That’s a tough one. Manning creates a bandwagon effect and many players want to go jump on his bandwagon because they think he could take them the distance. I think that once KC has a good year… we’ll get to take advantage of the bandwagon effect more next off season.

      • elly violette

        I think the bandwagon… is already happening with Reid and Dorsey. It seems like players are wanting to come to play in kc because of them right now.

        • ladner morse

          You might be right but if Alex Smith (along with the Chiefs) has a great year you can expect to more and more free agents wanting to come to kc. Bank it.

          • elly violette

            So.. who do you think specifically came here becasue of Dorsey or Reid???

          • ladner morse

            Your the one who thinks Dorsey or Reid could be drawing players in… but, I did hear that Dunta Robinson was really impressed by both Reid adn Dorsey….

  • Christopher Krier

    I think the Chiefs will move past San Diego this year and end up second in the division. The only issue with the Broncos calculation is that Manning usually finds a way to win at least 12 games in the regular season.

    • ladner morse

      Yep… Manning led teams have won less the 12 games only four times. I predicted 10 wins based on the difficulty of schedule all the teams in the AFC West face in 2013.

      • Michael Shaw

        Um, Laddy, you put 10-6 in the posting……

        • ladner morse

          Thanks Michael… good catch!

  • tm1946

    Since we have the draft upcoming and pre-season and potential injuries that all in the AFC West have to face, I am not all that sure of overall records. But, the West can be decided in head to head meetings and home wins. That could open up the Chiefs to make a move on Denver. Since Vermeil left, home wins have been devalued, not by the fans but organization, but if the Chiefs can will at home 8 times and steal a couple on the road….we will be looking at Denver in the rear view mirror.

    With Reid, a decent draft, and current changes in the roster, it is not all that wild an idea the Chiefs can make the move in the West. Reid will bring a NFC attitude to the West, can the rest of the West adjust? If Smith can do the job at QB, Charles runs like he is capable, the Defense find a way to pressure QBs, special teams do not self destruct…..watch out. The Chiefs will not be a dominant team but this could be the beginning and we could catch the West napping.

    • ladner morse

      This is my assessment as well. Plus, there was so many times Peyton almost got nailed last year. Not that I’m wanting anyone to get hurt… but I believe players are naturally getting bigger stronger and faster and this may be the season when Peyton goes down and if he does… I don’t think Denver has a chance otherwise.

      • elly violette

        Oh yea… without Manning the Broncos are dead in the water for sure.

  • toperspective

    “because of poor decisions made by the dearly departed Al Davis”. Dearly departed? Spare me. The guy was a prick. Maybe clearly departed instead.

    • ladner morse

      Just a personal preference — to not disrespect those who have passed.

      He was a football owner… not Hitler.

      • toperspective

        It is always amusing that upon passing the most pedestrian and the most vile are elevated in status. Terrible fathers become great family men. The day before his death he was a petty prick but the day after he was dearly departed. Just my observation, that’s all.

        • elly violette

          Are you really going to disrespect the dead? “Dearly departed” is a way to reverence those who are no longer with us… cmon man!

          Also… Davis evil = Chiefs good… can’t you see that?

  • Michael Shaw

    I think you have over valued the Bolts. I think they might go 7-9 again or maybe worse, 6-10. I am almost positive that we will be no less than 8-8 this year. If we win all 8 games at home then I see us winning the division and likely getting a bye. If we can’t win at home then I don’t see us doing better than 8-8.

    • Danny W

      I think the Bolts could potentially always contend at any given time with a qb like Rivers. As much as I don’t like him he’s just about as accurate as they come.

      • elly violette

        Rivers is the top of the category called Most Hated QB to me… yes… he’s good… but I know a lot of Chiefs fans who hate that guy……. Even though hate might be a little strong…..

      • ladner morse

        Rivers is too streaky…………..
        I don’t know how fans in SD can stand him…….

  • elly violette

    San Diego has picks 11, 45 and 76… kind of like the Chiefs last year. They can pick up some real help for their offensive line and another offensive weapon, and then they could be really good. Don’t count them out!

    • ladner morse

      Sounds like you might have a bit of a crush on the men in light blue……….

      • elly violette

        No, but they have been good for years and still have a very good roster… think it would be a mistake to count them out of the division race!

  • Guest

    Good quote… I think Bill Williamson is right… the Sean Smith and Dunta R. signings will make the Chiefs defensive backfield one of the best in the NFL…………. it will also be the best Chiefs defensive backfield since James Hasty and Dale Carter….

  • Guest

    Good quote… I think Bill Williamson is right… the Sean Smith and Dunta R. signings will make the Chiefs defensive backfield one of the best in the NFL…………. it will also be the best Chiefs defensive backfield since James Hasty and Dale Carter….

    • ladner morse

      I’ll bet the guys can’t wait to get on the field together…. If the Chiefs can draft someone like Kiko Alonso for ILB… a guy who has good coverage skills… the Chiefs may be able to shut down the passing game like never before.

  • Bobby

    I can’t promise you guys a Super Bowl but I can promise you Alex Smith with will be surgically dissecting defenses on a weekly basis once he’s got Reids playbook on auto pilot. Something Michael Vick could never do, Alex is beyond smart easily one of the highest IQs in the NFL. Reid can finally make his offense as complex as he likes and not have to dumb it down for his QB. GL KC beat the Raiders and Manning”s forehead can’t stand either of them!

    • Steve Blank

      I cant wait to watch 6-9 yard passes completed over and over and over….sprinkled with the occasional 60 yard TD run from JC….this is going to be fun

  • DT58HOF

    Chiefs 11-5, donkeys 10-6, SD 8-8, faders 3-13

    • Guest

      DT58HOF says…

      Chiefs 11-5, donkeys 10-6, SD 8-8, faders 3-13

      REPLY this to him…

      I like your thinking… sounds a little wishful… but I like you thinking!

    • elly violette

      I like your thinking… sounds a little wishful… but I like you thinking!

    • ladner morse

      Whoa… 11-5… that’s pretty bold… maybe even a little rich for my blood…. and I’m one who drinks the punch usually….

      • Outback Chief

        Yeah the Chiefs expectations shouldn’t be more than 9-7 and more like 7-9 unless they find a way to gel all these new players (aka luck)

  • Joe Myers

    Ok think about this . This draft class is deep every whare but QB , they are trying to trade Albert . It is a possibility that they draft Geno and a OL in the second rd ???? Any thoughts ???

    • Steve Blank

      that would suck…we need to keep albert…I wouldnt mind drafting Geno and packaging picks to move back up into the second to get an OL.

  • ladner morse

    You want the Chiefs to draft an OL in the 2nd round when they don’t have a 2nd round pick? Or maybe you think if they can trade Albert they can get a high quality OT in the 2nd? Hmmm… who would that be? Not sure who would be a starting OT from the 2nd round.

    • Joe Myers

      maybe . I personally think they will draft Luke and trade Albert

      • ladner morse

        Yea… I think this will probably happen but, WHO do you think could actually start at OT who is a 2nd round talent?

        • elly violette

          How about OG Justin Pugh from Syracuse?

        • Chief Hokie

          I like David Quesenberry in the third or fourth round. I think he could start but he’s more of an interior depth guy, even though he can really play anywhere on the OL.