Kansas City Chiefs Schedule 2014: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game
The Kansas City Chiefs rebounded in a big way in 2013, and the schedule was certainly a factor. The Chiefs played a last-place schedule and the weak AFC South and NFC East. The 2014 schedule is not nearly as favorable.
With games against the AFC East, the NFC West and a second-place schedule against the rest, the Chiefs' 2014 schedule is a tough one. The Chiefs will hope to avoid a setback, but a 10-win season is going to be much harder to achieve.
Coaching stability should help the Chiefs in 2014, but the team lost a lot more in free agency than it gained. That should come back to the Chiefs in the form of compensatory draft picks next year but won't help them win games this season.
The draft could be very important to the Chiefs—especially their first-round draft pick. Without a pick in the second round, the Chiefs need their first-round pick to have more instant success.
Here's what the Chiefs are up against in 2014 along with early projections of how those games might pan out.
Week 1: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: Sunday, September 7, 2014, at noon CDT
The Tennessee Titans went 7-9 last season, but even that record is a bit deceptive because they beat only one team that finished over .500. That win, against the Chargers, came in the final seconds of the game when newly signed cornerback Crezdon Butler was forced into action and blew his coverage on Justin Hunter.
The Titans didn't have a single quality win on the road. The Chiefs were able to beat Tennessee last October, 26-17. It's worth noting that the Chiefs were down 17-6 before scoring on their final three possessions.
New head coach Ken Whisenhunt along with defensive coordinator Ray Horton should help the Titans turn things around. The coaching will have to make a difference for the Titans as they didn't make many big splashes in free agency.
Week 2: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Kickoff: Sunday, September 14, 2014, at 3:25 p.m. CDT
After going 9-0 to start the season and coming off a bye week, the Chiefs still couldn't beat the Denver Broncos in Denver. The Broncos are tough to beat anytime, but it gets even harder in Denver. The Broncos have lost just two games at home since quarterback Peyton Manning arrived in 2012.
The Chiefs actually played well against the Broncos in Denver. Manning was limited to 60 percent passing and one touchdown, which was well below his normal offensive efficiency. Manning did manage to make several big plays in the passing game, which was the difference in the game.
Kansas City's offense needs to be better if the Chiefs are to have any chance of beating the Broncos in Denver. To make it even harder to beat them, the Broncos revamped their defense this offseason with pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward.
Even under the most favorable conditions last season, the Chiefs couldn't beat the Broncos in Denver. At least at this point in April, it would be foolish to expect any difference next season.
Week 3: Kansas City Chiefs at Miami Dolphins
Kickoff: Sunday, September 21, 2014, at 3:25 p.m. CDT
The Chiefs haven't played the Dolphins since they lost to them 31-3 in 2011. Since then, both teams have new coaches, new quarterbacks and very different rosters.
Former Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert finally made his way to the Dolphins in the offseason. One of the biggest problems the Dolphins had last season was the offensive line, so Albert will really help solidify their offense.
The Chiefs had long-planned to lose Albert, so his loss shouldn't be a significant factor against the Dolphins even against pass-rusher Cameron Wake and Dion Jordan.
The Dolphins were 4-4 at home last season, but they beat three of the four playoffs teams they faced in Miami. A 20-16 loss at home to the Carolina Panthers was the only blemish. Wins against the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers highlighted their success at home.
For the Chiefs to get a win in Miami, they will need to play well. The Dolphins are a young team that may turn a corner in 2014 as they move past controversies that have plagued them in recent seasons.
Week 4: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: Monday, September 29, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. CDT
The New England Patriots are very tough to beat at home, but they can be beat on the road. In nine games at home including the playoffs last year, the Patriots were undefeated. On the road, they were 4-4 with losses to two non-playoff teams.
The Patriots upgraded on defense this offseason by signing cornerback Darrelle Revis. Quarterback Tom Brady has kept the offense on track, but the defense has slipped in recent years. With Revis, the Patriots can take away the top receiving threat of the opposition.
Revis can take away Dwayne Bowe and force Kansas City's other weapons to beat them. Running back Jamaal Charles can take over games, but New England's run defense should be improved with the return of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork in 2014. Last year, the Patriots allowed the 4.5 yards per carry and the third-most rushing yards when Wilfork missed 12 games.
Adding a wide receiver in the draft who can make an instant impact would help the Chiefs against the Patriots tremendously, but that's an unknown at this point.
Week 5: Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers
Kickoff: Sunday, October 5, 2014, at 3:25 p.m. CDT
The Chiefs have a very difficult road schedule in 2014, and a game in the San Francisco 49ers' new stadium could be the toughest. The 49ers were 6-2 at home last season with their only losses coming against two playoff teams.
If the Chiefs beat the 49ers in Santa Clara, it would probably qualify as one of their biggest wins of the year. Of course, it's April and things like this can change in a hurry.
If the Chiefs are going to win on the road, their defense will play a key role. In their two home losses, the 49ers scored a total of 16 points and turned the ball over four times. The Chiefs have the defensive personnel for that kind of performance, but it's still hard to predict a victory against such a tough opponent on the road.
Week 6: Bye Week
There is no time for a vacation on the bye week, but the players will have a chance to heal up for the final 11 weeks of the season.
Week 7: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
Kickoff: Sunday, October 19, 2014, at 3:05 p.m. CDT
The Chiefs had a pair of three-point losses to the San Diego Chargers in 2013, with one of them coming in overtime. In the overtime game in San Diego, the Chiefs benched their starters as they had nothing to gain for the playoffs.
The Chargers had a very efficient offense and an average defense last year—the opposite was true for the Chiefs. Not a lot has changed between these two clubs this offseason. Like the Chiefs, the Chargers haven't been very active in free agency.
It would be reasonable to assume these two teams will match up similar to the way they did last season. Both teams are going into their second season in the same system, so neither team has a clear advantage.
The Chiefs nearly beat the Chargers with their backups, but the Chargers beat their starters in Kansas City. These facts and with very little changing since last year make projecting a winner in April tough. A best guess would be that the two teams split their season series.
Week 8: St. Louis Rams at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: Sunday, October 26, 2014, at noon CDT
The Chiefs don't play their in-state rival during the regular season very often. The last time the two teams met during the regular season in Kansas City was in 2002. The Chiefs have won the last five games dating to 1997.
In many ways, the Rams and the Chiefs are a lot alike. Both teams have a better defense than offense and are in need of a wide receiver. The most notable difference is the Chiefs have a better and more durable quarterback.
The Rams have the opportunity to close the gap in a few weeks with a good draft. The Rams have three picks in the top 50 including two in the top 15. The Chiefs have just one pick in the top 50, No. 23 overall.
In a tough division against a tough schedule, the Rams went 7-9 last year and didn't have their starting quarterback for the whole season. The Chiefs had a much easier schedule, but they also had four more wins.
Week 9: New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: Sunday, November 2, 2014, at noon CST
There was a point last offseason before the Chiefs traded for quarterback Alex Smith that people believed New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith would be the No. 1 overall pick. Fun times.
Smith may not even be the quarterback for the Jets in 2014 as the team brought in Michael Vick to compete for the starting job. The Jets had to do something because they finished 29th in points scored.
The Jets were also a terrible 2-6 on the road last year.
New York still has a solid defense. Rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was an instant star last season and should only get better in Year 2. The Jets are just hoping that by signing wide receiver Eric Decker and running back Chris Johnson their offense will be improved.
Week 10: Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills
Kickoff: Sunday, November 9, 2014, at noon CST
The Chiefs have played the Buffalo Bills in each of the last six seasons and will do so in a seventh in 2014. It's almost become an annual tradition that the Chiefs play the Bills. It's an odd scheduling quirk due to the two teams finishing in the same place in the standings several times.
Last season, the Chiefs beat the Bills in Buffalo 23-13 to move to 9-0 before the bye week. However, the Bills were forced to start undrafted rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel because EJ Manuel was hurt.
Despite the favorable conditions, the Chiefs weren't able to pull away from the Bills until the fourth quarter. The Chiefs are just 2-4 against the Bills over the last six years; in addition to last year's win, the Chiefs earned a 13-10 overtime win at home in 2010.
For whatever reason, the Bills have been tough for the Chiefs. The Bills have a good defense, should be better on offense and get to play at home.
Week 11: Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: Sunday, November 16, 2014, at noon CST
The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks are a great team, but they are much more beatable on the road than at home. Combined, the Seahawks were more than a touchdown worse in point differential last season on the road than at home.
The Seahawks were still 6-2 on the road, and their only losses were to playoff teams, but even a little regression in 2014 could mean a couple more losses. The Seahawks needed overtime to beat the Houston Texans on the road and had two other wins by less than a touchdown.
For the Chiefs to beat the Seahawks, they would need a great defensive performance. In two of their 2013 losses, the Seahawks scored 17 or fewer points. In their closest road victories, they scored 14 or fewer points. Alex Smith will have to produce something offensively, but without good defense to keep the scoring down, he's going to have little chance.
Week 12: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
Kickoff: Thursday, November 20, 2014, at 7:25 p.m. CST
Network: NFL Network
The last time the Chiefs went to Oakland, running back Jamaal Charles put on a show. Charles had 215 yards combined receiving and rushing with five total touchdowns. The Chiefs scored a season-high 56 points.
It's very easy to write off the Raiders because they haven't had a winning season since 2002, but that would be a mistake. The Raiders totally rebuilt their defensive and offensive lines this offseason by adding quality veterans.
The Raiders also found a stopgap at quarterback in Matt Schaub. Part of the reason the Chiefs were able to blow out the Raiders were the four interceptions by rookie undrafted free agent quarterback Matt McGloin.
With the No. 5 pick in the draft, the Raiders may also have the opportunity to add a special talent to their roster. Given how much the Raiders have improved this offseason, the Chiefs may have a lot more trouble getting a road victory in Oakland.
Week 13: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: Sunday, November 30, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. CST
The Chiefs had one of their best starts of the year against the Broncos at home with three touchdowns in a row to take a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter. The Chiefs scored on three of their first four drives but then punted five times in a row and let the Broncos back into the game.
Denver spent the offseason trying to get better on defense. By most accounts, the Broncos have improved with a trio of high profile signings. That should make it even harder for the Chiefs in 2014 to get over the hump against their division rival.
The Broncos got hot in the third quarter in Kansas City, scoring touchdowns on three consecutive drives to take a two-score lead going into the fourth quarter. The Chiefs do have the advantage of playing at home, but the Broncos did more to widen the gap than they did to close it this offseason.
Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals
Kickoff: Sunday, December 7, 2014, at 3:05 p.m. CST
The Arizona Cardinals narrowly missed the playoffs in 2013 after going 10-6 in the tough NFC West. It's been several years since the Chiefs played the Cardinals, so there isn't much familiarity between the two teams.
In 2013, the Cardinals lost to just one non-playoff team, the 7-9 St. Louis Rams in Week 1 on the road by a field goal in the final two minutes. At home, the Cardinals' only losses were to the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers by a field goal in Week 17.
Clearly, the Cardinals were pretty good in 2013. The Cardinals have a defense that was near the top in just about every major category including points per game, yards per play and turnovers. The Chiefs were no pushovers last year, but this is a tough road game that would be tough for even the best teams in the league to win.
Week 15: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: Sunday, December 14, 2014, at noon CST
One of the easiest wins of 2013 for the Chiefs came against the Raiders at home in Week 6. Kansas City's defense had one of its best performances of the season with nine sacks to go with three turnovers.
Things aren't going to be so easy against the Raiders in 2014. The Raiders attempted to improve their offensive line, plus they added a veteran quarterback much like the Chiefs did last year.
There's a lot of unknown when it comes to the Raiders. Do the veterans they signed to start on defense have anything left? Will the offense gel with Matt Schaub under center? The Raiders have been trying the same strategy for the last two years; they just added better players this offseason.
The gap was so wide between these two teams last year, it seems unlikely that the Raiders will be able to close the gap and win in Kansas City in 2014. The Chiefs also have far fewer questions than the Raiders going into next season.
Week 16: Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers
Kickoff: Sunday, December 21, 2014, at noon CST
The Pittsburgh Steelers are an aging team that doesn't have a ton of young talent on the roster. The salary cap was also a problem for them this offseason, so they weren't able to use free agency to bridge the gap.
We aren't accustomed to seeing the Steelers struggle, but 2014 could be a tough year for them. The Steelers were better at home last season than on the road, going 5-3 and beating the only playoff team that came to town.
One of the things the Steelers have going for them against the Chiefs is a quarterback who can escape pressure and still make plays in the passing game. The Chiefs will put the heat on Ben Roethlisberger, but he's one of the few that can still perform when he's getting knocked around by an opposing defense.
At least at this point in April, the Chiefs and the Steelers appear to be two teams headed in opposite directions. It's worth noting that Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's defenses have held offenses run by Chiefs head coach Andy Reid to an average of just 10.7 points per game in their last three matchups.
Week 17: San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: Sunday, December 28, 2014, at noon CST
The loss to the Chargers at home was a blow to the Chiefs in 2013 because it came on the heels of their loss to the Broncos. So much energy was invested in trying to beat the Broncos, and the 4-6 Chargers weren't considered a huge threat.
The win in Kansas City was the start of a stretch in which the Chargers went 5-1 to make the playoffs. Unlike the Chiefs, the Chargers won a playoff game.
As the Chiefs learned, the Chargers had a very good offense. What the Chiefs also learned was that the Chargers had a bad defense. Not much has changed this offseason for either club, but the Chargers should get back pass-rusher Dwight Freeney to pair with pass-rusher Melvin Ingram in 2014. Freeney and Ingram didn't play together in 2013.
The two teams are pretty evenly matched, but the Chiefs won't underestimate the Chargers at home in 2014.