KC Chiefs: The best-case scenarios for the 2023 schedule release
The NFL is set to reveal parts of its 2023 schedule in the upcoming days, with the full schedule release scheduled for May 11. The Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning Super Bowl champions, are anticipated to launch the NFL season at Arrowhead on Thursday, September 7th.
Kansas City is slated to face off against teams, such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and many others. However, the specific order and dates of each game are currently unknown.
While the specific opponents are significant for NFL teams, the timing of each game, the location of the bye week, and the game following the bye week, among other variables, will also play a crucial role in determining the favorability of the Chiefs’ schedule.
Now, let’s take a look at various components that would make for the perfect regular season schedule for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2023.
Note: These are in no particular order and there are many factors at play, so some may be omitted.
Chiefs bye week scheduled for mid-to-late November
When reviewing their schedule for the first time, many players and coaches often look at the timing of the bye week as it indicates when they can take a break in the middle of the season and plan their travel arrangements accordingly.
Personally, I believe that a later bye week would be best for the Chiefs. This is because the team tends to perform better after their bye and because the players can get much-needed rest when they are at their most fatigued. Moreover, a later bye week would be more beneficial if the Chiefs are unable to secure the #1 seed in the AFC.
Ideally, the Chiefs would have their bye week in Weeks 10, 11, or 12. A bye in early to mid-October would be too early, while a Week 13 or 14 bye would be too late, in my opinion. Considering that they are reportedly facing the Chicago Bears in Munich, Germany this year, their bye week will most likely be after that game. In the 2022 NFL season, the Germany game occurred in Week 10, with both Seattle and Tampa Bay having a week off in Week 11, so that could be the case again in 2023.
Chiefs play the Bengals early in the season
Over the last two seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals have struggled to get off to a strong start. In 2021, they lost four out of their first nine games before going on a hot streak towards the end of the season. Similarly, last year, they began the season with a 4-4 record before finishing strong and making it to the AFC Championship Game. Some Bengals fans may attribute their slow start last year to Joe Burrow’s appendectomy in late July. Regardless of whether this is true or not, it would benefit the Chiefs to face Cincinnati early in the season before their rival finds their footing, as they have in each of the past two seasons.
The Dolphins come to Arrowhead late in the season
The Chiefs would benefit from having the Dolphins travel to Arrowhead later in the season, around late December to early January, for almost the opposite reasons of facing the Bengals early. Miami started off the 2022 season strong, with an 8-3 record through November, but then struggled and fell apart in December. Additionally, there are questions about how Miami’s speed and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will perform in freezing temperatures, although they did not struggle in Buffalo last year.
Another reason why a late-season matchup with the Dolphins would be ideal for the Chiefs is that their pass rush should be playing at their best, and Miami has a lackluster offensive line that may struggle to protect their quarterback. This could lead to a strong performance by the Chiefs defense.
Thursday Night Football at Arrowhead
I know many Chiefs fans might not be thrilled with the idea of playing on Thursday twice in a single season, but it’s a likely scenario. In recent years, most teams that have played on the NFL’s Thursday Night Kickoff Game have also had to play on Thursday Night Football again later in the season.
If the Chiefs do have to play on Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football, it would be ideal for them to play at home against a weaker team, like the Las Vegas Raiders. Asking them to travel at least one time zone away on a short week would be a tough challenge. Although it has happened in the past, hopefully, it can be avoided in 2023.
No combination of Bills, Bengals, Eagles, Jets, Chargers, Jaguars in consecutive weeks
Playing back-to-back games against tough opponents can be a challenging task for any team, and it’s something that the Chiefs would ideally want to avoid in their 2023 schedule. Playing elite teams in consecutive weeks would make it much harder for them to emerge victorious against each one of them. Although it is very likely to happen, having to face any two or three of the Bills, Bengals, Eagles, Jets, Chargers (twice), and Jaguars in consecutive weeks would be an extremely daunting task for any team, let alone the Chiefs. Therefore, the ideal scenario would be to have a more balanced distribution of games against tough opponents throughout the season, with breaks in between to allow the team to regroup and prepare for the next challenge.
They play the Eagles, Bills, and/or Bengals after their bye week
Andy Reid has historically been very successful after a bye week, boasting a 21-3 record in the regular season. Therefore, it would be ideal for the Chiefs to play one of their tougher opponents after a 14+ day rest. This would ensure that the team is reasonably healthy when facing one of those teams at Arrowhead.
The Eagles, Bengals, or Bills aren’t coming off their bye weeks
On the other hand, it would be in the Chiefs’ best interest to avoid playing Philadelphia, Cincinnati, or Buffalo after their bye weeks, or at least a “mini bye” after Thursday Night Football the previous week.
Playing any of them after their bye week almost ensures that they come into the game relatively healthy and rested, and have extra time to prepare for Patrick Mahomes. If the Chiefs have to play the Lions or Vikings after their bye weeks, so be it, but not preferably not one of the Super Bowl favorites.
No three-game road trips
This is a straightforward one. Last year, the Chiefs played in Cincinnati, Denver, and Houston in consecutive weeks, and their performance in Houston during that third week was less than impressive. The team was sloppy with penalties and only Mahomes showed up on offense. While they managed to win the game, it wasn’t pretty.
It’s crucial for the Chiefs to avoid playing three consecutive road games as much as possible. Even if that means they don’t get a three-game homestand, it’s still preferable. Playing three straight games with unofficial short weeks due to travel is far from ideal. However, it’s highly unlikely that the NFL would schedule the Chiefs for such a stretch two years in a row.
No road game after Monday Night Football
Another easy one. If/when the Chiefs play on Monday Night Football, it would be ideal if they don’t have to travel the following week and have a home game or a bye week. Playing a game on Monday night and then having to travel on a short week is not an ideal scenario for any team, and the Chiefs are no exception. However, it’s unlikely the Chiefs will avoid it entirely.