The Kansas City Chiefs were the surprise story of 2013-14. The Chiefs’ new GM Joey Dorsey made a number of key moves to return the team to relevance. The Chiefs had a league high 10 Pro Bowlers and eight of them return to the team.
The Chiefs made its offseason about building through the draft, and with strong crews from the 2013 draft ready to improve further, the Chiefs are a team that could continue to get even stronger as its core develops.
Odds to win Superbowl: 50/1
Odds to win AFC: 20/1
Odds to win AFC West: +800
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Andy Reid is one of the best coaches of the West Coast offense and Reid made RB Jamaal Charles the key point of a very successful offense last year. The Chiefs ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing, and only 57 percent of the play calls were passing. That was the lowest ratio of Reid’s career.
Alex Smith started the 2013-14 season by averaging only 6.1 yards per pass attempted and a 9/4 TD/INT ratio through the first nine games of the season. Reid picked it up later in the year and averaged 7.2 y.p.a. with a 101.7 passer rating over the final six games of the year. Smith also played phenomenally in the Chiefs Wild Card loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and it appears that game can serve as inspiration that the team is ready to turn the corner.
Charles has averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry in all his pro seasons and is showing no signs of slowing down at just 27 years of age. He’s likely to have at least two more seasons playing at this high level, and he made a career high 70 catches last season, too. He carried it 329 times last season and the Chiefs have some better options behind Charles in the depth chart, too.
Knile Davis broke his leg in the playoffs but showed a lot of promise after being selected in 2013. His health will be key, as well as the development of fourth round pick De’Anthony Thomas, who can serve as a third-down back and return specialist in his rookie season.
Dwayne Bowe was a major disappointment after signing a five-year contract last offseason. Bowe improved in the later part of the season, and the Chiefs are banking on him playing his best as the No. 1 receiver. Behind Bowe there isn’t much, either, which makes it even more crucial. The Chiefs really could have used some more help receiving but failed to address it over the offseason.
The Chiefs defense suffered a big blow when LB Justin Houston went down last season, and the team tried to improve its D via free agency over the offseason. The Chiefs spent a first round pick on the DL in three of the past five seasons, but Dontari Poe is the only one to stick. Poe had 43 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season.
The LBs of the Chiefs is superior to every team in the NFL, though. Houston, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson form a great unit and first round pick Dee Ford will add even more depth and talent. Hali and Johnson are rarely injured, which gives the Chiefs stability in the D with such premier talent lining up at LB every game.
The secondary is weak and the man-to-man coverage produced poor results last year. Third round pick Philip Gaines of Rice will help here, and Eric Berry is becoming a strong coverage player in the backfield. He also had 3.5 sacks, two fumble recovers and two interceptions last season.
The Chiefs have the potential to be a playoff team again. The schedule strength is tough for K.C., though, and the team badly needed cap space it didn’t have to improve its prospects of contention. It’s likely this team returns to a Wild Card berth, and from there anything can happen.