Even though NFL OTAs haven’t even started, we’re ready to assign wins and losses to each team’s just-released schedule. It might be excessive, but it’s fun!
So let’s look at the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2022 regular-season schedule, predicting outcomes to come up with a final record at the end.
All times are Arrowhead Time.
Week 1: at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, September 11, Noon, CBS
In the opening week, the Chiefs have a built-in advantage: the Cardinals will be without their star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who will be out for the first six weeks of the season. Their defense has playmakers in the back end but lost edge rusher Chandler Jones in free agency. Arizona’s head coach Kliff Kingsbury is known for hot starts, but the Chiefs do it better — and get it done on the road.
Chiefs win (1-0)
Week 2: vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Thursday, September 15, 7:15 p.m., Amazon
I believe this is another schedule advantage for the Chiefs: they play their only Thursday Night Football matchup very early — and at home. I believe the Chargers are the biggest threat to Kansas City’s AFC West throne. Both teams know how big this game is — and because of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if either has a letdown in Week 1. But the Chiefs make an early statement in the division.
Chiefs win (2-0)
Week 3: at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, September 18, Noon, CBS
The Colts should be considered an AFC playoff contender. If they get any better at quarterback (with Matt Ryan replacing Carson Wentz this season), they’ll be firmly in the mix. It’s a tough, early road game — but Kansas City will still be the better team.
Chiefs win (3-0)
Week 4: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, October 2, 7:20 p.m., NBC
This will be an awesome matchup. There’s no evidence that Tom Brady was physically ready for retirement — and there are not a lot of reasons to think Tampa Bay will be any worse this year. With the Buccaneers having continuity on their side, this early-season battle goes to them.
Chiefs lose (3-1)
Week 5: vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Monday, October 10, 7:15 p.m., ESPN
While the Chiefs may not have the same target on their backs as defending AFC champions, division foes will still be ready to go all out against them — and that’s what I see the Raiders doing here. I could see new head coach Josh McDaniels going all out, manufacturing a huge upset — making this game Kansas City’s annual, frustrating early-October home loss.
Chiefs lose (3-2)
Week 6: vs. Buffalo Bills
Sunday, October 16, 3:25 p.m., CBS
Buffalo is currently the favorite to win both the conference and the Super Bowl, replacing Kansas City as the oddmakers’ favorite AFC team. Last season, they came into Arrowhead during the same part of the season and put the game away by the third quarter — but in 2022, the Chiefs have already beaten Buffalo at home once. Here, they give an inspiring performance to do it again.
Chiefs win (4-2)
Week 7: at San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, October 23, 3:25 p.m., FOX
Heading to the west coast, the Chiefs will be coming off three very hard games — and can see the Week 8 bye on the horizon. The 49ers are a very solid team — and with Kyle Shanahan maximizing his abilities, quarterback Trey Lance could be coming into his own. For a team that is feeling the effects of an early-season gauntlet, this could add up to a tough road loss.
Chiefs lose (4-3)
Week 9: vs. Tennessee Titans
Sunday, November 6, 7:20 p.m., NBC
The record at the bye week signals a theme I believe we could see early in the season: a tough schedule combined with a team that is getting used to new players at different positions. Still, I’m confident that the team will find its a groove — and what better time to do it than a home, Sunday Night Football matchup out of the bye week?
Chiefs win (5-3)
Week 10: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, November 13, Noon, CBS
I believe the Jaguars will be a surprisingly competitive team in 2022. Doug Pederson is a good coach, and Trevor Lawrence is going to look much better under his tutelage. This could be a tough game — but Andy Reid tallies another victory against a former assistant.
Chiefs win (6-3)
Week 11: at Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday, November 20, 3:25 p.m. CBS
It’s very possible that at this point, Los Angeles will have a better record than Kansas City — even if the Chiefs win the initial matchup. It’s going to be very hard to sweep the Chargers, but the Chiefs could do it. That said, I’ll still give Los Angeles a slight edge to tie the season series.
Chiefs lose (6-4)
Week 12: vs. Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, November 27, 3:25 p.m., FOX
On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, NFL fans are in for a delayed dessert: the first matchup between the Chiefs and Rams since the unforgettable 2018 Monday Night Football game in Los Angeles. This time, it’ll be at Arrowhead — but it could feature the same kind of fireworks. At a time when they could feel like their backs are against the wall, the Chiefs get back in the win column.
Chiefs win (7-4)
Week 13: at Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, December 4, 3:25 p.m., CBS
After losing to Cincinnati in both Week 17 and the AFC championship last season, the Chiefs (and their fans) see the Bengals as a very notable opponent. This late in the season, the revenge factor could easily have worn off — but it could also be a jolt in the arm for returning players to get up for a big game. I think they get one back against Cincinnati.
Chiefs win (8-4)
Week 14: at Denver Broncos
Sunday, December 11, 7:20 p.m., NBC
These two AFC West foes will be playing for the first time this season — in the middle of December. If I had to assign that as an advantage to one team, it’d be the Broncos. Quarterback Russell Wilson will have had time to get comfortable in the system with his receivers. At the same time, Wilson has a history of starting seasons at an MVP pace, but then fading down the stretch. I’m going to predict Kansas City will keep their stranglehold on this rivalry, winning their 14th straight game against Denver.
Chiefs win (9-4)
Week 15: at Houston Texans
Sunday, December 18, Noon, CBS
At the very end of a three-game road trip — four road games in five weeks overall — this could be a letdown spot. However, it’s down the stretch of the season. This Chiefs team will remain focused to get their fourth-straight win.
Chiefs win (10-4)
Week 16: vs. Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, December 24, Noon, FOX
I really don’t see the Seahawks being a legitimate competitor this season. Pete Carroll is a great coach, but there’s only so much you can do with their quarterback situation: Drew Lock and Geno Smith. The Chiefs get a Christmas Eve gift in the form of a fifth-consecutive victory.
Chiefs win (11-4)
Week 17: vs. Denver Broncos
Sunday, January 1, Noon, CBS
This is where Denver could have an advantage: playing the Chiefs only three weeks prior to this game. With both teams still in the mix for the division, this game should mean everything to both teams — and I can see this being the true validation of the Wilson trade. Denver scratches one out to split the season series.
Chiefs lose (11-5)
Week 18: at Las Vegas Raiders
Saturday, January 7 or Sunday, January 8, time TBA, CBS
Heading into this game, it’s very possible that the Raiders will be in the playoff mix — and that the Chiefs will need a victory, too. I think Andy Reid makes sure to avoid the season sweep of a division rival, clinching a playoff spot — whether that’s through a division title or not.
Chiefs win (12-5)
Final Record: 12-5
I have the Chiefs splitting each division series, making their AFC West record 3-3. Given how tough the division will be, that’s fair. Even if the Chiefs can find a way to sweep one team, there’s a possibility that another team beats them twice. The Chargers nearly did it last season.
After factoring in the gauntlet of a division, the two losses remaining can be simplified with this logic: is it fair to expect only one loss to these seven teams?
Another way to look at it: the Chiefs have the hardest eight-game opening stretch in NFL history. For a team that will be adjusting to some new pieces (and a new look), 5-3 will be a solid record to begin this season.
Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to start the season with eight straight games against teams that had a winning record in the previous season, per @EliasSports. pic.twitter.com/SAtoCQMrME— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 13, 2022
So that’s where 12-5 comes from. That might not be enough to win the division — but then again, it might be. Given the way these teams are likely to beat each other up over the course of the year, 12-5 could be enough to give the Chiefs a seventh-straight AFC West title.