When looking at the Kansas City Chiefs 2014 schedule, it's easiest to break it into segments. Sure, we can take the game-by-game approach, but that has been covered well already by the Blogfather, Joel Thorman.
For the record, I believe the Kansas City Chiefs will finish either 10-6 or 11-5, provided health does not become a major issue. I also believe the Chiefs will reach the playoffs for the second consecutive season, something this team has not accomplished since the days of Marty Schottenheimer when they qualified in 1994 and 1995.
The main reason? The coach and quarterback. Any team in the NFL with a good combination there will be in great position. The pairing of Andy Reid and Alex Smith is a top-10 combo.
Now, onto a close look at the Chiefs 2014 schedule:
1. The first five games
Kansas City has a very tough stretch before it enjoys a bye in Week 6. The Chiefs start at home against Tennessee before traveling to Denver and Miami, returning for a Monday night showdown versus New England and then finishing up on the road against San Francisco.
Simply put, Kansas City needs to go 3-2. Win the opener and split the next four games. The Dolphins are a decent team but very beatable, and while the Patriots are excellent, it's a primetime home game. I'm also not sold on the 49ers this season, it feels like an implosion after their offseason.
The trip to Denver is always brutal, but damn, that would be a statement win.
2. Taking care of business
In the middle of the season (Weeks 8-10) the Chiefs hit their only true soft spot of the docket. Kansas City will play host to the Rams and Jets before traveling to take on the Bills.
If the Chiefs are going to compete for the AFC West and / or a Wild Card spot, these have to be three wins. Kansas City is clearly better than all of these foes and have two of them in Arrowhead. Last year, the Chiefs beat every bad team they played. It is crucial they do the same in 2014.
3. What's ours is yours
Don't forget about the NFL scheduling system. While Kansas City faces a tough schedule, the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders also get a brutal deal.
In my opinion, the Chiefs got lucky. There is no impossible stretch of three or four games where you think they literally will lose each one without a miracle. Some of the other teams in the AFC West can't say the same.
San Diego's last five games represent the toughest string of contests I can ever remember. The Chargers will play at the Ravens before hosting the Patriots and Broncos, only to go on the road for the 49ers and Chiefs to close the season. San Diego could play great, and go 0-5.
Denver also has two tough spots, starting with the Colts and Chiefs at home before trekking to Seattle. Later, the Broncos see the 49ers and Chargers at home before visiting New England. Things could be very interesting.
4. Road warriors?
The Chiefs caught a huge break with only having consecutive road games once. Kansas City has to play at Denver and at Miami in Weeks 2 and 3, but never has to duplicate that amount of travel.
It is also very nice that Kansas City opens and closes at home. Arrowhead needs to be the home-field advantage it used to be for this franchise, propelling this team to new heights. Personally, I will be there for the Sunday night matchup against the Broncos, so I'm already warming up the pipes.
5. Division, division, division
The Chiefs have been a raging dumpster fire within their own division. Despite an 11-5 mark, Kansas City went 2-4 in the AFC West last year. If the Chiefs want to make a run at the postseason, that needs to stop.
Kansas City must sweep Oakland and at least split with San Diego. Truthfully, the Chiefs should go 4-2 in the division. If they do, the West looks wide open even with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers on the other side.