Chiefs schedule: How will game placements affect the AFC West race?

How will the layout of the regular-season schedule affect the Chiefs and their attempts for a ninth consecutive AFC West title?
Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The Kansas City Chiefs 2024 schedule was released this month, and there is plenty to break down. One area that stuck out to me, in particular, is the placement of the division games that the Chiefs have to play.

The Chiefs will be pursuing their ninth straight AFC West title this year, and believe it or not they might finally have some real competition. I'm not worried about the Las Vegas Raiders, but the Los Angeles Chargers have a new head coach, and the Denver Broncos have a new (but unproven) quarterback.

Traditionally, the NFL tries to structure division games at the beginning and end of the season. This creates more drama as the playoffs approach. However, this year the Chiefs won't play a division rival until Week 4, when they take on the Chargers in Los Angeles.

How will the layout of the regular-season schedule affect the Chiefs and their attempts for a ninth consecutive AFC West title?

That's a major break for the Chiefs, because it means that the Chargers will be coming to Arrowhead in December. I'm sure the Chargers will just love that.

The late start against division foes continues with the Chiefs not playing the Raiders until almost Halloween, and the Broncos two weeks after that. Similar to the Chargers, the Raiders are forced to come to Arrowhead late in the season, meaning Sin City gets to enjoy the elements, too.

All of this adds up to the Chiefs having a pretty great setup for a division lead as they make the annual late-season push after Thanksgiving. The Week 18 matchup with the Broncos could be interesting, but frankly, I think the Chiefs will have the division locked up by that point. They might even have the #1 seed locked up, too.

This might be overly optimistic but I am going to predict that the Chiefs go 5-1 against the division this year. The Broncos and the Raiders did steal a couple of wins last year, but I think KC reasserts dominance by sweeping both teams. I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of each matchup is a blowout considering Denver broke the "streak" last year, and Vegas embarrassed the Chiefs on Christmas.

The Chargers are the one team I actually see posing a problem. Justin Herbert has always been great. His coaches have not. But now he has Jim Harbaugh, and that could be a problem. I know it's been a decade since Harbaugh was an NFL head coach, but he was pretty good back then, and he's been pretty good at the college level ever since.

Because of that, I think the Chargers get at least one win against the Chiefs this year. It will momentarily vindicate the annual predictions of a Chargers division win, but will ultimately not amount to much.

The Chiefs are looking to be the first team to three-peat. But to do that, they probably need to nine-peat in the division. The schedule is looking mighty favorable for that.