Those who remember the days of Todd Haley's quarterly approach will remember his consistent focus on breaking down the NFL's regular season into four stretches of four games apiece. As it stands now, the Kansas City Chiefs are hoping to break even at 2-2 against a red hot Cincinnati Bengals team firing on all cylinders. In other words, the odds will favor the Chiefs at 1-3 after the first quarter of the season rather than a .500 team.
That said, this year's NFL is so upside-down that the upcoming four game stretch could prove far easier than anyone would have predicted. From October 11 through Nov. 1, the Chiefs will take on four non-conference opponents in which the toughest competition should be the Minnesota Vikings. Yep.
On Sunday, Oct. 11, the Chiefs will host the visiting Chicago Bears at Arrowhead, a team that has some fans already chiming for the league's worst schedule so they can clear house and gain the top draft choice next year. Jay Cutler's injury has Jimmy Clausen making early season starts, and the Bears already have a -59 point differential through three games -- a rate that far exceeds not only last year's miserable -123 (final record: 5-11) but far outpaces last year's worst team, the Oakland Raiders at -199.
The following week, the Chiefs head to Minnesota for what should be a hard fought game. The Vikes already dismantled the San Diego Chargers and that came despite a horrid performance from Teddy Bridgewater (13 of 24 for 121 yards, 1 interception). The fact is that the Vikes can win the old-fashioned way: a strong running game and a stout defense with playmakers at all level. That said, they're definitely not in the same tier as the Packers and the Vikes already laid a season-opening egg against the 49ers. Yep, the Niners. This will be the toughest, but it's certainly a winnable game for the Chiefs.
The next two games are technically home games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions, although the latter is the London game. Still, both teams were far more formidable on paper going into the season than after three weeks on the field. The Steelers are always going to be a challenge no matter how many injuries they've suffered, but there's no doubt that the Chiefs are catching them at the ideal time on the schedule without (presumably) Ben Roethlisberger at the helm.
Even better is how the Lions are looking so far, a disaster at 0-3 without any real identity whatsoever. Calvin Johnson is averaging 10 yards per catch, six yards off of his career mark, and the offense still can't generate yards on the ground. In fact, the Lions are averaging an NFL worst 2.9 yards per carry and rank second in turnovers at eight overall (the Colts have 10). The problem is the defense is not much better, allowing an average of 6.0 yards/play -- sixth worst in the league.
These stats will, of course, all change over the next few weeks. Smaller sample sizes will average out, other players will get injured and each week is different in the NFL. But looking through Haley's quarterly system, it's a nice second set of games for the Chiefs that are both winnable and opportunistic. The Chiefs have weathered the toughest part of the schedule and mostly have themselves to blame for the results. That's not the worst way to enter the month of October.