The Kansas City Chiefs already seem to be a hot sleeper pick to be a turnaround team in 2013 and they haven’t even played a preseason game yet.
Bill Barnwell of Grantland recently release his list of ten teams he thinks can make the playoffs after going 6-10 or worse in 2013. The Chiefs came in at #3.
Arguments in favor: Massive upgrades at quarterback and coach, unusual level of core talent for subpar team, massive turnover differential, fumble recovery rate, friendly schedule
Arguments against: Limited upside of quarterback, astoundingly low level of performance last year
The Chiefs were outscored by better than 13 points per game last season, which was the 14th-largest margin in the NFL over the past 25 years. They were a 2-14 team that wasn’t particularly unlucky to go 2-14 despite having six Pro Bowlers on their roster. What sort of promise can 2013 possibly hold?
Competence. That’s what Alex Smith and Andy Reid can provide, even if greatness proves to be beyond their grasp. Ron Jaworski just placed Smith at 20th in his quarterback rankings. Twentieth doesn’t sound all that great. But think about Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn for a moment. He’s replacing a pair of quarterbacks who couldn’t be trusted with throwing the ball in any but the most desperate moments last season. Upgrading from, say, the 45th-best quarterback in football to the 20th? That’s the move the Colts pulled off last year when they traded in Curtis Painter for Andrew Luck.5 When your quarterback play is that dismal, even improving to league-average can be an enormous, multi-win upgrade.
He’s right and he is keying in on what most NFL experts are likely to be talking about when referencing the Chiefs this August. KC improved greatly at head coach and QB, the two most important positions in any organization. Also, it is plain that it isn’t just Chiefs fans that think KC has a ton of talent on the roster. Experts almost always talk about the team’s talent level now when referencing the Chiefs. That isn’t something folks were saying a few years ago.
Chiefs fans will likely approach this season with some caution. Expectations for the 2012 team were higher than I can remember since Dick Vermeil was in town. Some NFL.com experts even picked the Chiefs to go to the Super Bowl. Just think about that for a second.
The good news is that people are starting to realize that the Chiefs are likely to start winning soon. The predictions may be a bit premature but at least KC is appears to be on their way.
Cross your fingers.