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If, And, But: The Kansas City Chiefs Will Be in the Playoffs in 2013

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2013 Kansas City Chiefs: Five Players to Keep an Eye On
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Arrowhead Stadium, home of the National Football League's Kansas City Chiefs.

What happened?

In 2010, the Kansas City Chiefs finished 10-6 and were a surprise winner of the AFC West under head coach Todd Haley.

A year later, the team was racked by injuries and in December, Haley was relieved of his duties. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel took over and orchestrated a surprise of the previously-undefeated Green Bay Packers in his head coach debut. Two wins in the final three games couldn't prevent a losing season (7-9) but it seemed like there would be hope in 2012.

Cancel that. The Chiefs won just two games all season and finished tied for the worst record in the league.

Enter new head coach Andy Reid, late of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hence, the Kansas City Chiefs will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2010…

If: This talented team can rectify a few major wrongs. Ironically, the Chiefs committed a league-high 37 turnovers in 2012, tied with the Eagles and Jets for that dubious honor. Amazingly, Kansas City also managed an NFL-low 13 takeaways and a league-worst minus-24 turnover differential, again tying Reid's Eagles for the worst last season. Enter new quarterback Alex Smith (49ers), obtained in a March trade and hoping to bring some ball security to this club.

And: The Kansas City defense gets some big plays from more than a handful of players. Along with the aforementioned low takeaway total, the Chiefs produced only 27 sacks last season and 19 of those came from the Pro Bowl outside linebacking tandem of Justin Houston (10.0) and veteran Tamba Hali (9.0). And cornerback Brandon Flowers totaled three of the club's seven interceptions. Free-agent additions cornerbacks Dunta Robinson (Falcons) and Sean Smith (Dolphins) and inside linebacker Akeem Jordan (Eagles) hope to help.

But: This should be an interesting first season for Reid, who stressed the pass in Philadelphia but now inherits one of the best running games in the league. Despite the club's woeful finish in 2012, Jamaal Charles ran for 1,509 yards and Kansas City finished fifth in the NFL in rushing. But the Chiefs were also 32nd in the league in passing. All told, the club was dead last in the NFL with 211 points and the offensive unit produced only 17 touchdowns. Reid is known for his offensive prowess, but what should be expected after one year?

So what do you think? What made last season's showing even more disappointing was the fact that the Chiefs won just one game at home all season and went winless vs. their AFC West rivals in 2012. But this is a roster that put six players in the Pro Bowl this past season. Kansas City couldn't possibly be as bad as their record showed a year ago. Or are they?

Russell S. Baxter has spent the last 40-plus years watching football. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country, can be heard on Yahoo! Sports Radio and many other networks and was blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.

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