This is a tough call on the Chiefs. They're probably going to be a better team because they have a lot of young players who are likely going to develop even more. Plus, they've added a few key talents in the offseason like FB Le'Ron McClain and WR Steve Breaston. However, they have a much more difficult schedule. That's not an excuse -- it's just reality. This is truly a test for the Chiefs on whether they're ready to make the leap as a perennial playoff contender.
That said, whenever you have a guy like RB Jamaal Charles on your team, it's hard to discount you. I'll say the Chiefs go 9-7 this year. The Vegas over/under is 7.5 wins so this is a slightly optimistic view on them.
Best Game On The Schedule
Monday night in New England. Chiefs GM Scott Pioli came from New England, as did QB Matt Cassel, so there's some familiarity there. The Patriots are obviously the cream of the crop in the NFL this year so if the Chiefs can go there and beat them, then we'll know they've taken a major step.
Player Who Takes A Step Back This Year
WR Dwayne Bowe. It's nothing against Bowe but the Chiefs have added a few more weapons this year and Bowe will receive more attention because of his breakout 15-touchdown 2010 season. He'll still be a very good player but he just won't have the crazy fantasy stats that he did last year.
Breakout Player Candidates
LB Justin Houston. He's just a rookie but he's shown he can get after the passer. After LB Tamba Hali, the Chiefs don't have a great pass rush so he could receive some opportunities to make a difference.
TE Tony Moeaki. He had a solid 2010 season but the Chiefs have high hopes for him and I expect him to put up even bigger numbers this year, especially in the red zone.
Best Chiefs Player Others Have Never Heard Of
CB Brandon Carr. He's the "other" corner on the Chiefs and he's very good. He's entering a contract year so if he has a solid season, you'll be hearing about him soon.
Overrated: WR Dwayne Bowe. I think he's a good receiver but he went on a ridiculous streak last year that elevated his numbers to an area that would suggest he's elite. He's a really good receiver but not in that elite category (yet).
Underrated: CB Brandon Carr. He doesn't get enough credit for what he's able to do.
Just right: RB Jamaal Charles. He really is as good as they say he is.
Fantasy Football Outlook
QB Matt Cassel: He's an interesting player and a real boom-or-bust when it comes to fantasy. He has some big games and some terrible games. There's not much of a middle ground so you'll take your chances with him. No one expected 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions along with a Pro Bowl for him last year and I'm not sure he can replicate that, even with more weapons.
RB Jamaal Charles: He's awesome and should get more than the 230 carries he received last year. Even with defenses keying in on him, he should put up big numbers. The only question with him is touchdowns. He only had five rushing touchdowns last year and the Chiefs added Le'Ron McClain this year who could take some of those goal line carries away.
WR Dwayne Bowe: I'm expecting a season in the area of 1,000-1,100 yards and 8-10 touchdowns. I think that's a safe bet for him.
Best Media Personality
The Chiefs lost G Brian Waters, DE Shaun Smtih and LB Mike Vrabel over the offseason and those three were the guys in the locker room that were the most entertaining in the media. For now, I'd say NT Kelly Gregg, who joined the team this season. We don't know him very well yet but he's got a very happy-go-lucky personality.
Best Player To Follow On Twitter
DE Shaun Smith was the best on Twitter for the Chiefs before he moved to Tennessee in the offseason. Now there aren't many options but Le'Ron McClain seems like a candidate to be the best.