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2007 Season Previews
Kansas City Chiefs (Last Year: 9-7)
Veteran Additions:
OT Damion McIntosh, DT Alfonso Boone, OLB Donnie Edwards, MLB Napoleon Harris.
Draft Picks:
RB Kolby Smith, WR Dwayne Bowe, TE Michael Allan, OT Herb Taylor, DT Turk McBride, DT Tank Tyler, K Justin Medlock.
Major Subtractions:
QB Trent Green (MIA), OT Jordan Black (HOU), OT Kyle Turley, DE Eric Hicks, DT Ryan Sims (TB), MLB Kawika Mitchell (NYG), CB Lenny Walls (STL), S Sammy Knight, S William Bartee, K Lawrence Tynes (NYG), KR Dante Hall (STL).

Offense This Year: Run middle. Run outside. Throw short. Punt. Rinse. Repeat. Sound familiar? If so, you're definitely a Chiefs fan. The brilliant game plan Herm Edwards and offensive coordinator Mike Solari came up with mysteriously backfired (and I'm obviously saying this facetiously), resulting in a 23-8 loss to the Colts in the first round of the playoffs. Trent Green was extremely ineffective, going 14-of-24, 107 yards with one touchdown and two picks. That shouldn't have surprised anyone but Edwards, who made a huge mistake by sticking with the veteran signal caller instead of Damon Huard. I guess Edwards didn't look at the stats section of NFL.com. Green threw more interceptions (9 to 1) and less touchdowns (7 to 11) than Huard. Also, in two fewer starts, Green was sacked eight more times than his backup. Fortunately, general manager Carl Peterson traded Green to Miami, as he was obviously aware that Edwards would stubbornly stick with Green as long as he was on the roster.

The future definitely looks brighter with Huard under center and second-year Brodie Croyle waiting in the wings, but I wouldn't feel too confident if I were a Chiefs fan. Even the scoring unit's two stars have some question marks attached to them. Larry Johnson compiled 1,789 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, but he did so on 416 carries. Here's an interesting trend: The last running back to carry the ball at least 390 times and rank in the top 10 in rushing yards the following season was Eric Dickerson in 1987 (Jamal Anderson, Eddie George and Bananas Foster all failed to reach the top 10). I get the feeling Johnson's going to break down, which would essentially shut the door on any postseason aspirations Kansas City has. As for Tony Gonzalez, the All-Pro tight end just turned 31. How many more years does he have left in the tank?

Despite the concerns I listed for Johnson and Gonzalez, they remain the only glimmers of hope on the Chiefs' offense. Eddie Kennison will continue to be the No. 1 wide out, even though he's nothing more than a No. 2. Rookie receiver Dwayne Bowe will spend the majority of his time learning this season, unless he's some kind of prodigy like Marques Colston. The offensive front will be missing right guard Will Shields, who unceremoniously retired this spring, marking the second consecutive offseason the Chiefs saw a Pro Bowl lineman retire. The offensive line as a whole is a mess. Starting tackles Damion McIntosh and Chris Terry should both be reserves. So should right guard John Welbourn. Center Casey Wiegmann turns 34 in July. Left guard Brian Waters is the only reliable player in the entire group.

Kansas City averaged 20.7 points per game in 2006, but I expect that to be considerably lower this year. Oh, and if the Chiefs somehow make it to the playoffs with this offensive unit, they have run middle, run outside, throw short to look forward to.

Defense This Year: Here's a quick summary of the shape Kansas City's defense is in: The two leading tacklers from 2006 are gone, the team registered only 32 sacks and the player who had the most interceptions is 33 years old. Sounds almost as bad as the offense, but trust me; it's not.

With Jared Allen and Tamba Hali on the defensive line, it's hard to imagine the Chiefs having trouble getting to the quarterback. Allen and Hali actually combined for 15.5 sacks. Problem was, Kansas City didn't have an effective tertiary pass rusher; outside linebacker Derrick Johnson ranked third on the team with 4.5 sacks. The defensive tackle position was a huge issue, which is why Peterson traded away Ryan Sims, brought in Alfonso Boone, and drafted Turk McBride and Tank Tyler. Unless the two rookies are complete busts, the Chiefs should be able to generate a more consistent pass rush and be more efficient against the run in 2007.

I already mentioned that the Chiefs' leading tackler, Kawika Mitchell, is gone. The team acquired Napoleon Harris to take his spot, so that's pretty much a wash. Peterson also obtained veteran linebacker Donnie Edwards as an upgrade over the disappointing Kendrell Bell. As for the rest of the back seven, the safeties is pretty much set, as Greg Wesley is one of the better athletes at his position in the league, while Bernard Pollard played exceptionally well as a rookie last year. I do have issues with Kansas City's cornerbacks, however. I already alluded to Ty Law's age. Patrick Surtain, who starts opposite of Law, shares the same problem; he turns 31 on June 19. Making matters worse, Kansas City has absolutely no depth behind the two veterans. What if one of them struggles or gets injured? Either Benny Sapp or Michael Bragg will have to start.

Schedule and Intangibles: Kansas City has the largest disparity of weather in the NFL. In September, it is scorching hot and dry, while in December, it is very cold and wet. These factors add up to an outstanding 71-25 home record since 1995. It is also the reason why the Chiefs are at their best in September and December (28-16 and 30-22 since 1995, respectively). ... The Chiefs traded Dante' Hall to the Rams, so who's going to return kickoffs and punts? ... After hitting just 6-of-11 from beyond 40 yards in 2005, Lawrence Tynes continued to struggle last season, missing seven of his 30 attempts, including two from inside 40. That's why the Chiefs drafted Justin Medlock in the fifth round to take his place. ... Kansas City's schedule looks pretty balanced. Aside from battling Denver and San Diego twice, the team will play Chicago, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and the Jets. Luckily, the Chiefs also have the luxury of facing Houston, Minnesota, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee and Oakland twice.

Additional Reading: Endless Banter coming soon.

Positional Rankings (0-4 stars):
Quarterbacks
Offensive Line
Secondary
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams
Receivers
Linebackers
Coaching


Divisional Rival History:
Denver Broncos: The home team always wins. Well, almost always. The host has claimed 11 of the previous 12 contests. Even though Kansas City has taken a major step backward, expect another split.
Oakland Raiders: Kansas City has dominated Oakland the past four years, claiming the past eight games. That should continue for at least one more season.
San Diego Chargers: The host has been victorious in 15 of the previous 18 battles, while eight of the last 11 have been decided by five points or less. The Chargers rarely win at Arrowhead (1-8 since 1996), so look for another home split.

Fantasy Football:
Damon Huard: In eight starts, Damon Huard threw for 1,878 yards and 11 touchdowns. Multiply that by two and you get 3,756 yards and 22 scores. Problem is, it looks like the Chiefs aren't going to make the playoffs, meaning Herm Edwards could be coaxed to play Brodie Croyle.
Projected Stats: 2,450 passing yards. 14 passing TDs. 20 rushing yards. 0 rushing TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 208.

Brodie Croyle: No value this year, unless you're playing in a keeper league. He might be worth picking up during the season if you have an open roster spot and it looks like Edwards is going to make the switch.
Projected Stats: 900 passing yards. 3 passing TDs. 50 rushing yards. 0 rushing TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 68.

Larry Johnson: As I mentioned above, running backs who carry the ball more than 390 times in a single season have a tendency to break down. If you draft Larry Johnson, be careful and make sure you have solid depth on your team. Furthermore, Johnson's average yards per carry, which dropped a full yard in 2006, could go down even further without Will Shields.
Projected Stats: 1,480 rushing yards. 475 receiving yards. 16 total TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 291.

Tony Gonzalez: Tony Gonzalez caught 102 passes for 1,258 yards in 2004. Since then, he's had a pair of 900-yard campaigns, each with about 75 receptions. Now in his 11th season, Gonzalez isn't the player he used to be, but he's still one of the top tight ends in the NFL.
Projected Stats: 925 receiving yards. 4 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 116.

Eddie Kennison: Eddie Kennison, who's still the No. 1 wide out in Kansas City, turned 34 in January, so his skills will quickly diminish the next few seasons. His yardage dropped from 1,102 in 2005 to 860 in 2006. Looks like the end is near.
Projected Stats: 880 receiving yards. 4 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 112.

Dwayne Bowe: There have been a few rookie wide outs who have maintained Pro Bowl status in the NFL, such as Anquan Boldin and Marques Colston. However, receivers of that ilk are extremely rare. Keep in mind neither had a rookie quarterback throwing to them. Brodie Croyle could be in by Week 11.
Projected Stats: 500 receiving yards. 2 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 62.

Samie Parker: In his first season as a full-time starter, Samie Parker caught 41 passes for 561 yards. Not going to cut it in fantasy or in real life. No wonder the Chiefs drafted Dwayne Bowe.
Projected Stats: 480 receiving yards. 1 TD.
Projected Fantasy Points: 54.

Justin Medlock: Given that Justin Medlock's a rookie, I'd stay away this season. I just don't know what to expect.
Projected Stats: 21-27 FG (2-4 50+). 33 XP.
Projected Fantasy Points: 89.

Kansas City Defense: The Chiefs drafted two defensive tackles to improve their pass rush, but we have no idea how well they'll play at the next level. I see no reason to take Kansas City's defense unless you want two stop units on your fantasy team for some odd reason.
Projected Fantasy Ranking: Top 20 Defense.

Analysis: Kansas City is an old team that needs to rebuild. By the time Brodie Croyle's ready - assuming he's a starting-caliber quarterback - Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson, Ty Law, Patrick Surtain, Brian Waters, Eddie Kennison, Casey Wiegmann and Donnie Edwards will all be ready to move on. I don't see the Chiefs advancing to the postseason in 2007.

Projection: 6-10 (3rd in AFC West)


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