Holy crap we are about to have football again. This Friday we will actually get to see the Red and Gold take the field for the first time in 7 months, and I am very excited. Sure it’s only the preseason, and at best the first string players will only be on the field for the first series of downs, but after the craziness of this past off season it might as well be the freaking Super Bowl.
So all of this excitement has got me to thinking about the upcoming season, and I thought it would be fun for all of us to get some pre-preseason predictions on record to see just how close our expectations are to reality. At the end of the season I will go through and tally up who had the most correct answers and they will be dubbed the winner of this little contest. I will donate my entire months Arrowhead Addict salary to the winner (bad time to tell you all this is basically a volunteer gig…).
We will start after the jump. Merlin, you can play so long as you leave the cover on your seeing stone.
1. What will be the Chiefs regular season record?
I was going to do preseason as well as regular season, but not only does the preseason record not matter, no one really cares what the record is, so I decided not to waste your time. In case you don’t have it memorized, here is the regular season schedule:
Sept 11th Buffalo @ KC
Sept 18th KC @ Detroit
Sept 25th KC @ San Diego
Oct 2nd Minnesota @ KC
Oct 9th KC @ Indy
Oct 23rd KC @ Oakland
Oct 31st San Diego @ KC
Nov 6th Miami @ KC
Nov 13th Denver @ KC
Nov 21st KC @ New England
Nov 27th Pittsburg @ KC
Dec 04th KC @ Chicago
Dec 11th KC @ New York Jets
Dec 18th Green Bay @ KC
Dec 24th Oakland @KC
Jan 1st KC @ Denver
I am going to say that the Chiefs are 9-7 with this schedule. They go 4-2 in the division, losing to Oakland and San Diego on the road, and pick up a rare win at Denver against the ailing Broncos. Aside from that they beat Buffalo, Detroit, Minnesota, and Miami. I am being optimistic here, because the Chiefs were terrible on the road last year and I am counting on them picking up one win in the away games against Chicago, New York, Indianapolis, or New England. Probably Indy, because they seem to be on the downward slide of their greatness and we almost beat them at Lucas Oil last year. Either that, or an ill-fated accident on field with Chad Ochocinco and a reality TV cameraman will cost New England the game while Jabba the Haynesworth sits on the sideline eating a stick of butter still in total disbelief that he signed a contract that stipulated he actually had to try every down.
I’m not counting the Chiefs completely out at home against Pittsburg and Green Bay, but I see those as long shots to go 10-6, but hey, any given Sunday…
2. Does Matt Cassel go for 4,000 yds this season?
I think the 4,000 yard mark is the official stat that a QB has arrived. It may be an arbitrary number, but it is hard to name a great quarterback that has not accomplished this feat since the passing game became what it now is in the NFL. Last season with no great receivers aside from Bowe and an emergent Moeaki*, Cassel threw for 3,116 yards. Will the addition of Breaston and Baldwin add up to 900 more yards of production, and is this the only question that determines the outcome? Sure the receiving corps have improved in the offseason, but Cassel’s ability to throw the long ball accurately will be the determining factor here I believe. The reports from camp say that Cassel is still pretty spotty downfield, and I don’t see them taking a lot of chances for homerun balls if he can’t hit the target. I see Matty’s stats going up, but I still think he falls short of 4k, throwing for 3600-3800 yards this year.
*Side question: Does Madden NFL ’12 actually pronounce Moeaki’s name correctly this year? It drives me nuts every time they say “Mo-eh-key” when I play 2011.
3. Will Jamaal Charles take the rushing title?
Originally I was going to ask if Charles would rush for 2000 yards this season, but I figured a more realistic question would be to ask if Charles would be the most productive back. Most of us are probably in agreement that this will not be so much a question of his ability vs. the ability of other backs, but will come down to carries*. As you probably already know Charles is listed as the #2 back on the depth chart behind Jones as of now, and how many yards Charles gets this season will simply depend on how many times he gets the ball. Will Haley decide to hand Charles the rock enough times to pick up the title? I think so. Again, optimistic.
*Side question: What do you think Jamaal’s YPC will be this year? Does he crack 6 yards again?
4. Which squad will end up with the better ranking? Offense or Defense?
According to the team stats from NFL.com, the Chiefs ranked 14th in the league defensively and 12th in the league offensively during the regular season. There have been a lot of puzzle pieces moving around since the start of free agency, but I think overall that the offense has the edge going into this season. The signing of Breaston and McClain will improve the team’s ability to pass downfield as well as their backfield blocking ability. Also if you take out the conflict between Weis and Haley I think the offense will run more smoothly, but obviously that is pure speculation and remains to be seen…
I feel on the defensive side of the ball there are more question marks than answers with the new talent, and aside from filling some holes on the squad there haven’t been any huge upgrades. Whether or not I am right will depend on the growth of our homegrown guys on defense. If they continue to rise then we could be looking at a top 5 defense, but there would have to be a hell of a lot of growth for that to happen.
5. Do the Chiefs Make the Post Season?
This is the million dollar question. Have the Chiefs given themselves enough growth opportunities to compete with the schedule they have this year? I doubt we will see a wildcard spot come out of the division with the teams the AFC West faces this year, so the question becomes: Do the Chiefs retain the AFC West title? The Chargers, who we all agree will be the Chiefs primary competition in the division this year play all of the same teams with the exception of the Colts and Steelers. Instead they play at Jacksonville, and host Baltimore. All things being equal I see them winning on the road but losing to a fairly impressive Ravens team. Finishing with the same record (9-7), it comes down to a tie-breaker and the Chiefs edge them out with a better divisional record by one game. Thank God we won in Denver…
At least that’s how I see it. Afterwards the Chiefs go to the playoffs and promptly lose to whatever team they play in the wildcard round, continuing their historic run at playoff futility. Just kidding, maybe…
So those are the five questions I saw fit as top on the list for the upcoming season. I know there are a million questions to be answered, but I feel like this is a good starting point. Feel free to ask any questions I may have neglected in the comments section. This time next week we will have a preseason game to talk about! GO KC!