It's certainly no secret at this point that the Kansas City Chiefs have their work cut out for them next season. Even the most die-hard Chiefs fan can admit that this year's 11-5 record was at least in part a by-product of a relatively easy schedule. Next year, the Chiefs will have no such luck when it comes to scheduled opponents.
A quick comparison between the 2013 schedule and the 2014 schedule makes it abundantly clear that the Chiefs will have to make some improvements if they still want to be playing football next January.
Here is the Chiefs 2014 schedule with the .500 or better teams bolded:
HOME: Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks
AWAY: Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers
This year, they played seven games against teams with a record of .500 or better, and went 2-5 in those games. Next year, they will play 11 such games. If their winning percentage stays the same against .500 and better teams -- even if we assume the Chiefs beat every other team they play -- the Chiefs would have a record of 8-8 next year.
What's more, the average record that their 2014 opponents had in 2013 is 9-7. To clarify, the Chiefs lost more than twice as many games as they won against the type of teams they'll play on the average week next year.
But the news isn't all bad.
To start with, of the five home games they have against .500 or better opponents next year, only two (Seattle and Denver) had winning records on the road this year. If the Chiefs win the other three home games against such teams (San Diego, New England and New York Jets) and lose the rest of their games against such teams, but win all of their games against losing teams, their record would be 8-8 next year.
Of their six road games against .500 or better teams, only one game (Miami) is against a team that didn't have a winning record at home. If we assume the same amount of wins for the home games and against losing teams, and add an assumed win against Miami, the Chiefs record would be 9-7 next year, which may or may not be good enough for the playoffs. While such a record would have been good enough to make the playoffs in the AFC this year, the Arizona Cardinals went 10-6 and missed the playoffs in the NFC.
So in order to be mostly safe from the possibility of missing the playoffs, the Chiefs need to finish no worse than 11-5 again next year.
In order to get to that 11-5 record, the Chiefs may have to find a way to win at least two of the following seven games: Seattle (home), Denver (Home), at Denver, at San Diego, at Arizona, at San Francisco, at Pittsburgh
They may have to win more than two of those games however, because there still exists the real and likely possibility that they lose one of their games against losing teams, or that they lose at home to the Chargers, Patriots, or Jets or that they lose on the road to Miami. For every one of those games they lose, they'd have to win one more from the above list of seven games.
The road to the playoffs for the Chiefs in 2014 is certainly not impossible. The problem is, it just as certainly leaves almost zero room for error. Even one misstep could cost the Chiefs a chance for a second consecutive trip to the postseason.
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