NFL Preview Series: Kansas City Chiefs

Byron Dixon| BKD TV

Everyone has heard the ridiculous stat by now: Alex Smith failed to throw a single touchdown pass to a receiver throughout the entire 2014 season. The Chiefs’ scoring attack sputtered at times as a consequence, and the team scored 19 or fewer points in five of its final eight games. A promising 7-3 record quickly turned into 9-7 finish that left the franchise out of the playoffs.

While We Were Away:  Kansas City’s front office had to do everything in its power to make sure this side of the football was much more productive. Of course, that could prove to be difficult considering how limited Alex Smith is. Smith does a great job of avoiding turnovers, but he’s able to do that because he throws shorter, checkdown-type passes and seldom challenges opposing defenses downfield.  

Kansas City had a poor receiving corps last season, but was able to improve this area by signing Jeremy Maclin to a big contract. Maclin is a capable No. 1 receiver when he’s on the field, but his health has been a big issue over the years. He wasn’t banged up at all this past season, but he had played a full slate of games just once in his career prior to 2014. It’s safe to say that Maclin will either miss time or play injured at some point in the near future.
2015 Season Outlook: Travis Kelce, the third-year tight end caught 67 passes for 862 yards and five touchdowns in 2014 and should continue to improve.  The most important player in the Chiefs’ offense is Jamaal Charles. The dynamic running back had just 1,033 rushing yards in 2014, but still averaged five yards per carry and also caught 40 passes. He was hampered by multiple leg injuries this past season, and that was another reason why Kansas City struggled to score down the stretch.

While the Chiefs were absolutely atrocious in terms of defending ground attacks, and look like they’ll continue to be so, they should at least excel in terms of getting after the quarterback and stopping the pass. There are a couple of reasons for this, and the primary one is the duo of Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Both players are among the top rush linebackers in the NFL; in fact, Houston came just one sack short of breaking Michael Strahan’s single-season record in 2014. Hali had a bit of a down year, but he still played very well.
Houston and Hali make things easier for a Kansas City secondary that figures to have a new starting corner-back in 2015. The front office spent its first-round selection on Marcus Peters, who slipped to No. 18 overall despite being a top-10 prospect because of character issues. However, Andy Reid investigated Peters thoroughly and determined that there wasn’t much risk. Peters will likely start across from Sean Smith, a corner who was inconsistent in the past but just had an outstanding 2014 campaign, Smith is gonna miss the first three games due to a DUI conviction. Eric Berry will be back and he is one of the best players at his position and will take advantage playing center field.
2015 Record: 6-10
The Chiefs have a lot of work to do to make the playoffs. Alex Smith may struggle at time to help make the plays this team needs to get over the AFC West hump of Denver, the lack of weapons will eventually hurt this team. This defense will have to be near perfect to cover up fort the offenses shortcomings, the defense will get sacks but the corner-backs are the key if the pass rush lack. All in all I see a down year with a heavy road schedule early on for a team that plays well at home with one of the better home field advantages but has road woes.

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