2017 NFL predictions: Kansas City Chiefs projected to have 8-8 season

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 6: Tight end Travis Kelce
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 6: Tight end Travis Kelce /

Football Outsiders have released their projections for next year’s schedule, and the Kansas City Chiefs are expected to be a .500 team in the AFC West.

The good news is that the Kansas City Chiefs are projected to make the playoffs. The bad news is that they are the last wild card team in the AFC, skating in on an 8-8 record. All of this is part of the Football Outsiders 2017 NFL projections at ESPN. Every year, Football Outsiders makes these sorts of predictions, and more will be coming after the draft and into the preseason, but this first round of picks doesn’t look so hot for the Chiefs.

One thing that’s important to note for the Chiefs at this point is that the schedule should be much harder this time around than it was last year. Remember how lucky the Chiefs were at various points this year — from the incredible record-setting comeback against the Chargers in Week 1 to “the doink” versus Denver. Football Outsiders has the Chiefs with the 4th toughest schedule in the NFL next season.

"Kansas City essentially projects as the same team as last season but with a much tougher schedule and less good fortune. The Chiefs were 6-2 in regular-season games decided by less than a touchdown, and they led the NFL by ending 16.7 percent of opposing drives with a takeaway.1. Oakland Raiders: 9-7 (9.0 mean wins; SOS: 15)2. Kansas City Chiefs: 8-8 (8.1 mean wins; SOS: 4)3. Los Angeles Chargers: 8-8 (7.9 mean wins; SOS: 14)4. Denver Broncos: 6-10 (6.0 mean wins; SOS: 6)"

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What’s working in favor of the Chiefs this year that’s not mentioned is continuity. From the coaching staff to the players learning the schemes to units like the offensive line and secondary coming together for another year, the Chiefs are a gold standard of continuity. That should account for something in a division where the expected leader is going to change cities at least once and deal with that distraction over time and another just changed cities to Los Angeles. Yet another is going through a coaching change with a potential change at quarterback as well.

In addition, the Chiefs had an outstanding defense without Justin Houston for much of the year and the losses of several starters along the same front seven. The Chiefs coming back healthy would make a world of difference in addition to the overall depth they’ll enjoy after another strong draft class.

Winning consistently in the NFL is a tough business, which is why only a few have been able to accomplish it year after year, but the Chiefs have the formula to do just that. Their ascent to the top of the AFC West last year was for good reason, and they did it against the odds while dealing with injuries and substandard play in both the run game and run defense. With a chance at being healthy, the Chiefs could really best the odds once again and repeat as division winners.