Last weekend I brought myself back to reality and painted a fairly grime picture of what the Chiefs 2011 NFL season could look like. This weekend it’s not going to get any better as I look at the five games that I deem to be the most difficult on the schedule.
Looking forward at the Kansas City Chiefs 2011 NFL schedule, one thing stands out to me. This season is not going to be an easy one for the Chiefs. The NFL has laid out a difficult path for the Chiefs to make it back to the playoffs in 2011.
Since the end of the 2010 season I have heard a lot of people say that the Chiefs success in 2010, finishing 10-6, is going to hurt them this season as last year’s success led to a much harder schedule for 2011. However this is not completely true.
The Chiefs 2010 success only determined two games on the 2011 schedule. Had the Chiefs finished dead last in the AFC West in 2010, the only difference in 2011 opponents would have been the Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals instead of the Indianapolis Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The way I see it, there are two stretches of the season that could spell doom for the Chiefs in 2011. Today I am going to focus on the five hardest games that the Chiefs have in 2011. Each of these games could potentially have a huge impact on whether or not the Chiefs repeat as AFC West Champions.
Week 3: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
The Chiefs season gets difficult pretty early in the season when they face the San Diego Chargers and one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Philip Rivers. In 2010 the Chiefs split with the Chargers, winning a close Monday Night Football game week one, and then getting blown out in San Diego during week 14.
Matt Cassel missed that week 14 blow out last year due to an emergency appendectomy. The Chiefs will need Cassel and Co. to be ready to roll out of the gate if they want to win this game.
The silver lining in this matchup is that the Chargers have started poorly each of the last several seasons. If the Chargers stick to form, and continue their slow start in 2011 this is a very winnable game for the Chiefs.
Week 11: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
The Chiefs will have one of their toughest games of the year on Monday Night Football in Foxboro. Led by all world quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots have been unstoppable on Monday Night Football, having won eight out of nine games dating back to 2006.
If the Chiefs are planning to win this game the young secondary, lead by Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry, will have to have one of their best games week 11.
With the addition of Chad Ochocinco to an already potent offense that includes, two great young tight ends, Wes Welker, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Chiefs will have their hands full.
Week 12: Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs were able to pull off a surprising win, during Todd Haley’s first year as head coach, against the Steelers back in 2009. If the Chiefs could do it in 2009 with the cast of players they had, then hopefully the new and improved lineup will be able to repeat that performance this year.
The Steelers are consistently one of the best defensive teams in the NFL. In order for the Chiefs to win this game the offense is going to have to a near perfect, no turnovers, type of game. If the Steelers get up early in the contest it could be hard for the Chiefs to come back, therefore they must start off fast in this contest to keep the pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense.
Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets
Facing a New York Jets team that has one of the best secondaries in the NFL, the Chiefs will have their hands full. The Chiefs making field, including Charles, Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster and newly acquired LeRon McClain will have to have one of their best games of the season.
Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan will have his team pumped up for this late season matchup that will feel like a playoff game. The Jets will be in a division race with the Patriots, while the Chiefs will most likely be in a division race with the Chargers.
This game may be the biggest game of the year given the time of the season that it takes place. This game could not only have huge division implications but could also play a hand in determining the two wildcard teams that make the playoffs in the AFC.
Week 15: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs will be facing a Packers team that has one of the best all around defense in the NFL. This is a game that Jamaal Charles may have to take over in order for the Chiefs to get the win.
Last season during week 15, while the Chiefs took on the St Louis Rams, Charles exploded for 126 yards rushing on 11 carries. While I hope he gets more than 11 carries, a late season explosion like that may need to be repeated to get a win against the defending Super Bowl Champions.
On the defensive side of the ball the Chiefs will have their hands full. The Chiefs young secondary will have to slow down Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers and the high flying Green Bay passing attack. If Brandon Flowers and company can create a few mistakes by Rodgers the Chiefs should make this game competitive.