KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
2015 Record: 11-5-0
Head Coach: Andy Reid
New Faces for 2016 - OL Mitchell Schwartz, LB Andy Mulumba, WR Rod Streater
OFFENSE: Alex Smith is the quarterback after a big season in 2015 where he had 3,486 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Smith also rushed for 498 yards (5.9 ypc average) and scored two touchdowns. Recently signed Nick Foles comes over from the Los Angeles Rams to backup Smith. Foles had 2,052 passing yards last year with seven touchdowns and ten picks while missing five games due to injury.
Jamaal Charles is looking to return as a starter after playing in just five games last season. Charcandrick West (634, 4.0 ypc, four TD) led the Chiefs in rushing last year in Charles' absence and is on hand this season again. Spencer Ware (403, 5.6 ypc, six TD) filled in nicely as well in 2015 and looks to get his chances to carry the ball again.
Jeremy Maclin is the top returning wide receiver after making 87 catches for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns. Albert Wilson (35, 451, two TD), Chris Conley (17, 199, one TD) and possibly Rod Streater (free agent signee) are the other options at wideout.
The tight end is Travis Kelce, who had a monster season in 2015, making 72 receptions for 875 yards and five touchdowns.
DEFENSE: The Chiefs play the 3-4 defense and have Dontari Poe at nose tackle. The ends are Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard, who had 5 1/2 QB sacks last season.
The linebacking unit is one of the best in football, even when missing Justin Houston (7 1/2 sacks) who played in only eleven games last season. Houston had off-season knee surgery and may not be ready to go this year.
If he is able to play in 2016, he will team once again with Tamba Hali (6 1/2 sacks) at outside linebacker while Derrick Johnson (four sacks and two interceptions) and Josh Mauga (two INT) man the inside spots.
The secondary will be looking to replace cornerback Sean Smith (free agent) this season and will have Marcus Peters (eight picks as a rookie to co-lead the AFC) and Phillip Gaines at the corners. KeiVarae Russell and Steven Nelson provide depth at this position. The safeties are Eric Berry (two INT) and Ron Parker, who made three picks last season.
OUTLOOK: The Chiefs finally got the monkey off their collective backs last year by winning a playoff game.
Head Coach Andy Reid would love to see the team take the next step(s) and make it to the AFC title game and/or the Super Bowl, but that could be a reach. However, the defense showed they are for real by ranking in the top ten in three categories last year, including number three in scoring defense, allowing only 17.9 points per game.
This season, they may be without linebacker Justin Houston and are looking to plug a gap in the secondary. Eric Berry was a great story last year coming back from cancer to play stellar defense in the secondary.
On offense, a lot rides on Jamaal Charles staying healthy all season. When he's right, he's one of the best running backs in the game.
The receivers are decent and QB Alex Smith simply doesn't make many mistakes by turning the ball over. He runs an efficient offense for the Chiefs, but they could use a big play maker in the passing game.
Kansas City should win the AFC West this year, given the Denver Broncos' uncertainty at quarterback. Oakland is a team on the rise, but the Chiefs have owned them in recent years.
The schedule is very tough, but the big question for the 2016 season is whether the Chiefs (provided they make the post-season) can advance further in the playoffs this time around.
Fearless forecast - 11-5 this year (playoff team)
2016 TEAM SCHEDULE
Week 1 - vs. San Diego
Week 2 - at Houston
Week 3 - vs. NY Jets
Week 4 - at Pittsburgh
Week 5 - BYE
Week 6 - at Oakland
Week 7 - vs. New Orleans
Week 8 - at Indianapolis
Week 9 - vs. Jacksonville
Week 10 - at Carolina
Week 11 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 12 - at Denver
Week 13 - at Atlanta
Week 14 - vs. Oakland
Week 15 - vs. Tennessee
Week 16 - vs. Denver
Week 17 - at San Diego