Since this time last week, the NFL’s regular season schedule has been released. We now know the order, dates, and times of the Kansas City Chiefs’ opponents in 2014. I’ve had a few days to dissect the team’s slate of games and it’s painfully apparent that Chiefs will have their work cut out for them if they hope to return to the NFL playoffs. According to research done by NFL Network, Kansas City has the league’s 7th-toughest schedule this year.
- Sept. 7 Tennessee Titans, Noon
- Sept. 14 at Denver Broncos, 3:25pm
- Sept. 21 at Miami Dolphins, 3:25pm
- Sept. 29 New England Patriots (Mon), 7:30pm
- Oct. 5 at San Francisco 49ers, 3:25pm
- Oct. 12 BYE
- Oct. 19 at San Diego Chargers, 3:05pm
- Oct. 26 St. Louis Rams, Noon
- Nov. 2 New York Jets, Noon
- Nov. 9 at Buffalo Bills, Noon
- Nov. 16 Seattle Seahawks, Noon
- Nov. 20 at Oakland Raiders (Thu), 7:25pm
- Nov. 30 Denver Broncos, 7:30pm
- Dec. 7 at Arizona Cardinals, 3:05pm
- Dec. 14 Oakland Raiders, Noon
- Dec. 21 at Pittsburgh Steelers, Noon
- Dec. 28 San Diego Chargers, Noon
A few quick observations:
1. Three of the Chiefs’ first five games are on the road.
2. Three of the first five games are against 2013 playoff teams.
3. Kansas City has three primetime games (MNF, SNF, and TNF).
4. Three of the last five games are at home.
5. Four of the last six games are against the AFC West.
6. Kansas City hosts Seattle then plays Oakland four days later in primetime.
There’s no cakewalking back to the postseason tournament. Returning to the dance will require this football team to win big games in 2014. By “big games”, I mean matchups with teams that made noise in the playoffs. Can they win games against the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, and San Francisco 49′ers? Those opponents make up roughly 44% of their schedule (seven games). Even if the Chiefs were to sweep the other nine games, I’m not they’d secure another wildcard berth in this division.
Last year, Kansas City lost six games to teams who were in the AFC playoff picture. The Chiefs were on the big stage several times last season and they rarely came out on top. Save the primetime victory over the Eagles, the Chiefs dropped every significant game they played. Will that exposure aid them in winning such games in 2014? Can the sting of one of the greatest playoff collapses in NFL history put them on the road to becoming a viable contender in this league?