COMMENTARY | The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off their worst performance in franchise history after a 2-14 showing last season that left them branded as the bottom feeder of the NFL. After an eventful offseason, however, this organization is set on quickly putting 2012 in the rear-view mirror.
While predicting outcomes is futile at this point, there are certain games that project of greater significance or anticipation than others. Though things can (and will) change over the course of the season, Kansas City can circle a few matchups right now that will play a major part in shaping how 2013 will ultimately play out.
For the reasons listed below, here is a rundown of Kansas City's biggest games this season.
Week 1 at Jacksonville Jaguars
The league's two worst teams from last season open 2013 for what is sure to be dubbed "The Battle of the Basement." While it is imperative for both squads to get off to a solid start, it is the Chiefs with the most to lose here.
The Jaguars, while they too have nowhere to go but up, made little effort to admonish last season's abysmal performance. Kansas City, however, cleaned house and by circumstance could be the NFL's most improved team.
The Chiefs have lost their last two season openers by a combined score of 81-31; and their Week 2 performances have been even poorer, losing by a total of 83-20 in those two contests.
Getting off on the right foot is crucial for Kansas City, as it will be the first step in distancing the organization from the failed previous regime.
Week 3 at Philadelphia Eagles
Sandwiched between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants in a three-game NFC East stretch is a trip to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles, marking the return of new Chiefs head coach Andy Reid to his former home.
Reid spent 14 seasons with the Eagles, tallying 130 wins, while making it to five NFC Championships and appearing in one Super Bowl. While neither side would ever admit it, this game is definitely circled on the calendar.
Week 7 vs Houston Texans
Their meeting with the Texans (on paper) presents possibly their toughest matchup outside of the two games with the Denver Broncos this season. If the Chiefs are serious about competing in the AFC, a win here against Houston is imperative and certainly a step in the right direction.
The additions the Chiefs have made this offseason will be tested in this game, as the upgraded offensive line will have its hands full with J.J. Watt and Co. and the secondary should be better equipped to keep up with Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Houston's sound passing attack.
Week 16 vs Indianapolis Colts
The Colts finished the 2012 season where the Chiefs ultimately hope to be this year, going 11-5 following their own turn as the league's worst team back in 2011. That last place finish afforded Indianapolis the rights to draft Andrew Luck; and it is like the franchise never missed a beat following the Peyton Manning era.
If the Chiefs are to make a similar leap forward, this late-season matchup could hold significant postseason implications.
AFC West Opponents
Success in the NFL begins with how well teams fare within their own division; and going 0-6 in the AFC West last season really set the tone for the Chiefs.
Kansas City has an opportunity now to make a name for itself in this division, as neither the San Diego Chargers nor the Oakland Raiders seemed to do as much as the Chiefs this offseason in trying to catch up to the Denver Broncos.
While improvement is necessary, anything less than 3-3 here would be a huge disappointment. With five of their final seven games coming within the division -- including three on the road along with closing the season at San Diego -- the Chiefs will again be tied to how they perform against these familiar foes.
Jeremy Sickel has successfully created and operated numerous websites, including Podcast to Be Named Later--where he is the co-host of the site's up-and-coming podcast. Jeremy's work can be read on Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, and he has also appeared on various sports talk shows around the country.
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