VAVEL USA's 2016 NFL Guide: Kansas City Chiefs team preview
VAVEL USA's 2016 NFL Guide: Kansas City Chiefs team preview

The Kansas City Chiefs coached by Andy Reid have had a very successful relationship so far, and the union seems to be a perfect fit. Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and a fantastic defense are coming off one of the best seasons in Chiefs history including the franchise's first playoff win since 1993 and could look to try and repeat that this season.

If the Chiefs can pull off a playoff win this season, it would be the first time other than a five-year playoff streak from 1990-95 the Chiefs could make it back to back playoffs since 1968-69 when they were in the AFL. 1969 was when the Chiefs last won a Super Bowl, in a 23-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings when Len Dawson won the Super Bowl MVP.

Can the Chiefs win a Super Bowl this season?

If the Chiefs stay healthy, there is a chance that Kansas City could have a nice playoff run. Jamaal Charles staying healthy will be huge for the Chiefs, who are hoping he can lead the offense. The defense, however, should be fantastic regardless. The Chiefs have several of the league's best including safety Eric Berry, the league's best linebacking core in Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, and Justin Houston, and a respectable defensive line lead by Dontari Poe and Jaye Howard.

Marcus Peters and Ron Parker are good in coverage also, and Alvin Bailey and Dee Ford are also decent role players for the Chiefs looking into this season.

Last season in the playoffs, the Chiefs lost to the New England Patriots by a touchdown, in large part due to Rob Gronkowski's two receiving touchdowns. That was without Jamaal Charles and Justin Houston, too. 

The Chiefs do start the year with injuries to Houston, Josh Mauga, and Charles however, but Charles should be completely healthy in a couple weeks at the latest, very much in time for the playoffs.

Houston will likely be back mid-season after being put on the PUP list for the first six weeks of the season. Once they return healthy to the team, however, they need to stay healthy for the Chiefs to have a chance at a deep playoff run.

The good news for the Chiefs is key offensive playmakers including Travis Kelce, Alex Smith, Jeremy Maclin and Anthony Sherman are all healthy on offense. Dee Ford will look to make an impact with Houston out early this season on the PUP list, and Charcandrick West will likely be the starting running back if Charles can't play in week one, entering Sunday's game against the Chargers with limited participation in practice this week according to the Chiefs' injury report.

Jamaal Charles taking a handoff from Alex Smith in the backfield. Photo Credit: Peter Aiken of Getty
Jamaal Charles taking a handoff from Alex Smith in the backfield | Source: Peter Aiken - Getty Images

Review of last year's regular season

Last year during the regular season, the Chiefs were fantastic. They won their first game vs. the Houston Texans by seven, then proceeded to lose five games in a row against the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears (by one) and Minnesota Vikings all by ten points or less with the exception of a 15-point loss to the Bengals in week four. After that, they'd finish the regular season with 10 straight wins, including a 16-point win against the Broncos. The loss against Kansas City would be Denver's only loss by more than a touchdown all season on their way to a Super Bowl win in Peyton Manning's final season.

Since last year, the team hasn't made very many changes, which is a great sign for this season outside of the three big injuries from Mauga, Charles, and Houston. Once Houston and Charles recover from injuries, the team will have almost the same starting lineup as it did last season.

Mike Devito and Hussain Abdullah were two departures who retired this offseason, and the team's biggest losses from last season are safety Tyvon Branch who started in place of Eric Berry during his recovery from Cancer and starting cornerback Sean Smith, who will be the team's biggest loss this season. The team's biggest signing would be offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz, however, the offensive line still remains the Chiefs' biggest weakness heading into this season.

Chiefs schedule this year not hard, nor easy

The Chiefs strength of schedule this year is right in the middle of the pack according to ESPN, who ranked Kansas City with the 16th hardest schedule of the 32 NFL teams, exactly at the halfway mark. This was based solely on winning percentages from this year's opponents last season.

While the Chiefs have opponents that could cause some trouble including division rivals the Denver Broncos and a potential surprise team in the Oakland Raiders, other teams on the schedule should be easy for the team. There are also a couple of NFC teams on the schedule that will likely cause the Chiefs issues including the Packers and Carolina Panthers

Some of the weaker teams the Chiefs should easily handle this season include the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans, with the San Diego Chargers being a division rival the team should have some intriguing matches against at the top and bottom of the schedule.

This writer projects another 11-5 season for the Chiefs this season. The Chiefs might struggle week one without Charles, Houston nor Mauga in the lineup, and could open with a surprise loss to the Chargers at home week one. Week two, Charles will likely open his season against JJ Watt and the Houston Texans on the road, which looks to be another loss for the Chiefs to open the season. The team will then earn their first easy win of the season with a matchup vs. the Jets at home, before having to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, which appears to be yet another loss for the Chiefs early in the season.

After an early bye week in week five, however, the Chiefs will likely come back strong. The Chiefs could earn a nice win over Oakland in California after their bye week, and then Justin Houston will be eligible to return from the PUP list.

Even if he doesn't return to full action, or even any action at all, the Chiefs should be able to defeat Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints at home, the Indianapolis Colts in Indiana and the Jaguars in Florida. The Chiefs then head to a tough matchup against the Panthers on the road, likely handing them their fourth loss of the season, and their first since week four.

After the Carolina game week 10, the Chiefs will likely have Justin Houston return to full strength pending re-injury, and if Jamaal Charles is healthy, the team will be at full strength heading into the easier half of their schedule. They come off the Panthers game with what looks to be an easy win over the Buccaneers, before getting what could be their final loss of the season on the road against the Broncos. After the Broncos game in Denver however, the Chiefs could win the rest of their games against the Falcons in Atlanta, three straight home games vs. the Raiders, Titans, and Broncos at home, before rounding out their season with a game in San Diego.

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