The Kansas City Chiefs have a new coach, Andy Reid.
They have a new quarterback, Alex Smith.
They have the same No. 1 wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe, who they hope will be better than ever.
They have the same running back, Jamaal Charles, who is among the NFL’s most dangerous.
They also are coming off a disastrous 2-14 season when nearly everything that could have gone wrong for them, did.
So what to make of 2013?
Are the Chiefs in a position to take a huge leap forward, like the Indianapolis Colts did last season? Or is it more logical and likely that Kansas City will take baby steps toward the road to the playoffs. What is a reasonable expectation for this team next season?
I’ve given this some thought today. Initially, it looked borderline insane for anyone to expect more than incremental improvement in the Chiefs. Without doing much research, I thought six wins sounded like a reasonable expectation – maybe even a bit on the optimistic side.
Then I checked the AFC standings from 2012. And while the Chiefs’ woeful record was tied for the worst in the conference with Jacksonville, there were seven other teams that finished below .500. They include: Oakland (4-12), Cleveland (5-11), New York Jets (6-10), Buffalo (6-10), Tennessee (6-10), San Diego (7-9) and Miami (7-9).
How many of those teams, realistically, could the Chiefs pass? Remember, now, there’s a new, proven coach. And a new, somewhat proven quarterback?
The Chiefs could be better than four or five of those sub-.500 teams, couldn’t they? Maybe more?
Aren’t the only teams in the AFC certain to be better than Kansas City in 2013 the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals?
Am I crazy?
What about the Pittsburgh Steelers? Well, the Steelers have legitimate question marks coming off an 8-8 season.
I also looked at the Chiefs’ schedule for 2013. It, of course, includes division home-and-home games with Denver, Oakland and San Diego. The rest of Kansas City’s home schedule includes: Houston, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Dallas, New York Giants.
How many of those home games could Kansas City win? Four?
The home schedule is definitely tougher than the road tests, which includes games at Jacksonville, Tennessee, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Washington. Outside of Denver and Washington, are there any games there that the Chiefs couldn’t possibly win?
Isn’t a 4-4 road record possible?
We’re playing a lot of what-ifs and could-happen here, I understand. But is it really that crazy to think the Chiefs could get to 8-8 simply because of the moves they have made, the way the schedule lines up and the fact that the AFC doesn’t have a lot of quality depth?
In 2011, Indianapolis was a woeful 2-14. But the Colts drafted a franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck. They hired a new coach. They brought back a receiver, Reggie Wayne, who appeared to be on his final legs but instead had an All-Pro season. And Indy, lo and behold, improved to 11-5 and made the playoffs last season.
The close games the Colts lost in 2012 turned into close wins. Despite being outscored by 30 points in 2012, Indy had a great and unexpected turnaround.
Could the Chiefs make the playoffs? Whoa, somebody stop me. Making the playoffs is the longest of long shots for Kansas City next season. Common sense tells us that.
Then again, sports isn’t always about common sense. They’re about timing and craziness and all of the intangibles that make competition so enthralling.
We need to wait and see what Kansas City does the rest of the offseason. We need to wait and see how the Chiefs draft.
It would be absolutely crazy to expect the Chiefs to go from 2-14 to anything that even resembles the playoffs. Absolutely crazy.