Don’t worry – I’m not abandoning the Royals 2011 season, but with the Chiefs’ first pre-season game in just two days, I figured it’s time to start giving them some blog love, too. Let’s kick things off by taking a quick look at our schedule and my prediction for how many games we’ll win. I’ve also included each opponent’s ranking in ESPN’s just-released first Power Rankings for the season (they’ve got the Chiefs ranked #14, by the way).
- Win vs. Buf (31)
- Win* @Det (18)
- Loss @SD (10)
- Win vs. Min (25)
- Loss @Ind (8)
- Loss* @Oak (23)
- Loss* vs. SD (10)
- Win vs. Mia (24)
- Win vs. Den (27)
- Loss @NE (2)
- Loss vs. Pitt (5)
- Loss* @Chi (13)
- Loss @NYJ (7)
- Loss vs. GB (1)
- Win vs. Oak (23)
- Win* @Den (27)
That works out to a 7-9 record, courtesy of that absolutely brutal week 11-15 stretch. Just for kicks, though, I also went through and put *’s next to 5 games that were borderline for me, games that wouldn’t surprise me if they went the other way. To me, these will be the key to our season. I’ve got us going 2-3 in these games, but if we can pull most of these out, we could finish 9-7, which might be good enough to win the AFC West. Here’s a closer look at those games:
- Week 2: Win @Det – I’m predicting a win here, but the Lions scare me a bit this year. They’ve drafted well the last couple years, and their number 1 question is whether Stafford can stay healthy. Unfortunately for us, we play them in week 2, so there’s a small chance Stafford is still healthy. Still, I figure a few well-timed “Tampering!” taunts will cause Gunther to lose it and start calling 11-man blitzes on every play.
- Week 7: Loss @Oak – I know the Raiders are ranked 23 by ESPN, so it seems odd to predict a loss, but Al Davis’s lads swept the AFC West last year. Plus, playing in Oakland always makes me nervous, regardless of our success there prior to last year. Maybe a better way to put this is that I figure odds are we’ll lose either this game or the Detroit one.
- Week 8: Loss vs. SD – Give me this game early in the year, and I’ll pick the Chiefs. But this is a week 8 game, and generally speaking, this is when the Chargers get tired of having a sub-.500 record and start playing well. Any chance we have at the AFC West title will likely hinge on us getting at least a season split with the Bolts – which is why I would rather have swapped our week 3 game in San Diego with this one.
- Week 13: Loss @Chi – I’ve got us losing here, but I think this is really a question of how we handle adversity. At this point, we’ve likely come off back-to-back losses to the Patriots and Steelers, and we’re looking at the Jets and Packers after this game. If we don’t win this one, this has the makings of a season-crushing 5-game losing streak.
- Week 17: Win @Den – Denver’s looking to be really awful this year, but at this point, both of us are likely out of the playoff race, and a “just for bragging rights” division game at the end of a season seems like it should favor the home team. Still, it’s the Donkeys, so I’ve gotta pick the Chiefs.
All that said, I do think we’re improving as a team, but a big reason for last year’s 10-6 record was the cake schedule we had, and this year’s schedule is looking decidedly un-cake. So… what do you think?