2012 NFL Previews: Tampa Bay Bucs| Indianapolis Colts | New England Patriots | Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers | Seattle Seahawks |Minnesota Vikings | St. Louis Rams |Cleveland Browns | Arizona Cardinals| San Diego Chargers | Atlanta Falcons| Chicago Bears | Oakland Raiders | Carolina Panthers| Cincinnati Bengals | San Francisco 49ers | Philadelphia Eagles | New Orleans Saints |Jacksonville Jaguars | New York Giants| Dallas Cowboys | Miami Dolphins | New York Jets | Houston Texans | Buffalo Bills | Tennessee Titans | Denver Broncos | Washington Redskins | Detroit Lions | Green Bay Packers
The Kansas City Chiefs were the best of teams and the worst of teams in 2012, though more of the latter. In late December, they stunned the Green Bay Packers to end the run at perfection. In the early part of the season, they were dreadful as Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles suffered season ending knee injuries in the first two weeks, and they were destroyed by the Bills and Lions. Kansas City stabilized things despite gaping holes at safety after the Berry injury.
When Matt Cassel went down for the year, the stretch with Tyler Palko was a disaster. As a result, the Chiefs’ results were wildly inconsistent. The end product was a 7-9 record, but a dreadful -126 points margin.
Can the return of the injured starters improve that? Somewhat, I suspect but there are still issues. I expect that the Chiefs will be better this year, but may not exceed last year’s record.
The Good: Jamaal Charles looks very good as always coming back from the knee injury, and the Charles/Hillis combo should be an excellent platoon. The team added Eric Winston at right tackle, addressing a serious need. Eric Berry is back, and the depth behind him is not great, so he makes a big difference.
The Bad: Injuries on defense plus the Tamba Hali suspension in game 1 have the team in dire straits on that side of the ball. It seems half the team’s defensive starters are carrying an injury. The defensive line is a concern for me, and Dontari Poe is already drawing the “temper your expectations” label.
Kansas City would have the potential to be a good defense when healthy. I’m not crazy about the loss of Brandon Carr and replacing him with Stanford Routt. As I have been for three previous years, I am not crazy about the Matt Cassel at quarterback situation. I think he has his best set of weapons with Charles back, Hillis, improvement at offensive line, Bowe, McCluster in the slot, and a combination of Kevin Boss and Tony Moeaki at tight end. I hope he plays well enough to justify trusting him to run the offense yet again.
My prediction is a bland 8-8, and a fair amount of inconsistency. The opener against Atlanta is rough with the defensive injuries. The start of the season is tough in general. If Kansas City can somehow survive the first 5 games at 2-3, they will have a chance to make a run late.
[photo via US Presswire]