The Chiefs finished just a game behind the Broncos in the division this season, and with the Broncos potentially taking a step backwards after the departure of QBs Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, the division may be opened up for the Chiefs to possibly win. On the injury front, they get back RB Jamaal Charles, who was limited to just five games last season, but they could be without LB Justin Houston for much — or all — of the season as he recovers from a torn ACL.
QB Alex Smith had a typical season for him, not throwing many interceptions but not having overly impressive numbers either. He threw for 3,486 yards with 20 touchdowns while throwing just 7 interceptions. WR Jeremy Maclin was the only receiver to really stand out, totaling 87 receptions for 1,088 yards and 8 touchdowns. The only other pass-catcher to put up good numbers was TE Travis Kelce, who grabbed 72 passes for 875 yards and 5 touchdowns. With Charles limited by injury — 71 rushes, 364 yards, 4 touchdowns in five games — RB Charcandrick West the team’s leading rusher; he started nine games, carrying the ball 160 times for 634 yards and 4 touchdowns. Smith was actually the team’s second-best rusher, scrambling for 498 yards and 2 touchdowns on 84 attempts. The defense helped keep the team in games with the unspectacular offense, allowing the third-fewest points in the league (287) and the nabbing the second-most interceptions (22).
The receiving core is the biggest concern for the Chiefs on offense, especially if Charles can come close to returning to his pre-injury form. RB Spencer Ware appears to be on track to potentially land the No. 2 running-back spot on the depth chart, which would put him in line to fill-in if Charles misses time. The team didn’t do much to help the lack of depth at receiver, without much to speak of after Maclin and Kelce. They did draft WR Demarcus Robinson in the fourth round, but you can’t expect much production out of a rookie. It looks like the Chiefs will again have to rely on their defense to win games, which is where the Houston injury could be troubling. Even if he is out for an extended period, their defense should still be above average with the likes of LB Tamba Hali and S Eric Berry on the field.
The Chiefs’ schedule gets underway with a home game against the Chargers before heading to Houston in Week 2 to take on the Texans in a rematch from the first round of last season’s playoffs. They have a Sunday night game at the Steelers in Week 4 before a Week 5 bye. They have a road game against the Raiders coming out of the bye and later take on the Panthers on the road in Week 10. Their first game against the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos comes in Denver in Week 12. They host the Raiders for a Thursday night game in Week 14, and they conclude their season with back-to-back divisional games; in Week 16, they host the Broncos on Christmas night, then visit the Chargers in Week 17.