Division Preview: AFC West
3rd Place: Kansas City Chiefs
2016 Record Prediction: 8-8
Explanation: “Hail to the Chiefs” said no one, ever… Although this was the last team to win the AFC West before the Broncos span of dominance (and came within one game of winning it this
past year), I just don’t buy into this team and their prospects for a successful 2016 campaign. I have a lot of respect for Andy Reid and the work that he has done throughout his coaching career, but let’s make this clear, 2015 was a fluke year for the Chiefs.
I’ve made the comparison before and I will happily do it again… Watching the 2015 Chiefs was like watching somebody who wasn’t very good at billiards, but they kept winning games because the opponent kept scratching on the 8 ball. That team should have been no better than 8-8 last year yet managed to notch 11 wins AND a victory in the playoffs.
While I credit Reid and his coaching staff for making the most out of their opportunities, let’s not act like this was a team that went out and won 11 games last year. Most of their wins came at the hand of their opponents mistakes more than the Chiefs outright beating them.
Because of that and uncertainty revolving around the health of some key players (Justin Houston, Jamal Charles), it’s hard to see the Chiefs having another winning season in 2016. Because of their coaching staff and style of play, they will definitely be competitive and at times, tough to beat, but I just don’t see them as a legitimate threat to contend for a Super Bowl (let alone, the Division).
Beyond Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce, the Chiefs don’t have much talent or depth in the receiver positions and while their RB committee did an excellent job of producing while Charles was out in 2015, it’s hard to predict similar success from that group again in 2016. Group that in with the fact that you have just an OK QB in Alex Smith, who may be forever known as the “21st ranked QB” in the league.
The always solid, but unspectacular Smith is better than 8-10 other starting QB’s in the NFL but
let’s face it, you could name 20 others QB’s that you’d rather have behind center than Mr. Smith. Does that mean that Smith can’t lead your team to a Super Bowl? Not necessarily. It just means that fans of the Chiefs shouldn’t expect him to step up and carry the team to victory when they need him to the most.
The Chiefs under Andy Reid will always be a competitive, well coached bunch but in 2016, that won’t translate to postseason success. While they field plenty of top end talent on both sides of the ball, they don’t have enough game changing talent on the offensive side of the ball to give them playoff credibility.
I don’t believe the “they lost more than we won” strategy will work again in 2016, as teams have entire off-seasons to game plan and make adjustments to the strategies that failed against the Chiefs in 2015.
The Chiefs won’t be pushovers, but don’t expect them to do much pushing when it matters, either.