Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid on the sidelines during the first quarter of the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs 2014 Opponents: The Moment of Truth

The true proof of Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s pudding will be how he handles his second season with the team. The mantra around the NFL was the fact that the Chiefs had much of their success because of their easy schedule. While that was true for 2013, the team’s opponents in 2014 will be anything but.

While parity in the NFL is growing more and more — just look at the Chiefs who were 2-14 in 2012 and 11-5 in 2013 or on the other side of the coin the Houston Texans who were 12-4 in 2012 and 2-14 in 2013 — some teams are just good every year. As the Chiefs move into their off season, they know they will face all four teams that played in the conference championship weekend. Yes, the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and yes, the Denver Broncos are all on the plate next year.

That means, of course, that the inevitable Superbowl champion will come to Arrowhead Stadium and face off with the Chiefs at some point next year.

Does Andy Reid have his hands full?

The scheduling process in the NFL only caters to teams previous records with two games. The Chiefs will face the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans, both teams who finished in second place in their respective divisions. Beyond that, the Chiefs play in arguably the toughest division in football, the AFC West  – who would have said that in 2009? talk about parity — and they play the other toughest division, the NFC West. The AFC West fielded three playoff teams this season and the NFC West fielded three double-digit winning teams. That’s seven games against tough teams; really tough teams.

I’d say Reid has his hands really full.

If those seven games weren’t bad enough, the Chiefs also have to play the always-good New England Patriots, the streaky New York Jets and the ever-improving Miami Dolphins. That’s ten games against teams who were good this year.

In fact, the combined record for teams the Chiefs will face next year is 117-91. That includes five playoff teams from this year. Yeah, that’s tough.

2014 will indeed be the moment of truth for Reid. While 2013 was a good warm-up and the Chiefs turned some heads, they can’t to have a let down season like they did in 2011 after winning the AFC West in 2010. That season led to an even worse season in 2012, and this team — and this fanbase — just can’t live through that again. Not that I think that’s going to happen.

Things are different around here.

Andy Reid completed the best turnaround in franchise history in 2013. From all indications, his entire coaching staff will be returning with him for the 2014 season, which bodes well for the team and its continued improvement.

Sep 19, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Branden Albert (76) during the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Chiefs defeated the Eagles 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

On the player side, while it appears as if the Pro Bowl was left tackle Branden Albert’s last game in a Chiefs helmet — I just don’t see how they’ll re-sign him with the cap situation like it is and Albert wanting $7-$9 Million a year — Donald Stephenson looked comfortable in that role and Eric Fisher made huge strides at the end of the year. Albert is the biggest name for the Chiefs heading into the free agent market this year.

The other huge question mark is Chiefs prolific punt returner and slot receiver, Dexter McCluster. His rookie contract will expire on March 11 and he’s scheduled to hit free agency as well, should the Chiefs not reach an agreement.

Dec 8, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster (22) scores a touchdown on a punt return against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Other than that, no “big name” players are on the block. That means both sides of the ball should remain relatively in place and will be able to build upon their success from 2013. The offense was really “turned on” by the end of the season, and though the defense took a down swing, I can only imagine that defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and his staff will be spending this off season not only dissecting what went wrong, but how to fix it in 2014. Many have said Sutton should bring in an assistant much like Brad Childress is for the offense, to assist with making defensive adjustments on the field.

The 2013 season is behind us, Addicts, but around here we don’t stop talking Chiefs football. Next year isn’t going to be any easier, but it sure will be exciting, and we’re glad to have you all along for the ride.

Sound off. What do you think about the 2014 season? Are you pessemistic about the Chiefs chances with a tougher schedule? Or, do you think the Chiefs will continue to build on their successes of the 2013 season? Let us know what you think. Thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!

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Tags: Andy Reid Branden Albert Dexter McCluster Donald Stephenson Kansas City Chiefs

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