Two teams hoping to bounce back from disappointing seasons will take the field on Friday night when the Kansas City Chiefs head to New Orleans to take on the Saints.
The Chiefs had the worst record in the NFL a year ago, which brought about sweeping changes in the organization. A new quarterback and head coach should bring some hope to Kansas City, but it still remains to be seen how those changes will affect the product on the field.
Sean Payton returns to the sidelines for the New Orleans Saints, and that's a relief for a team that missed the playoffs in 2012. Drew Brees should once again be among the most productive quarterbacks in the NFL, but the defense will be the biggest question mark.
Meet the Chiefs
The Chiefs' offense will have a different feel this year. With Andy Reid as the head coach and Alex Smith at quarterback, Kansas City figures to be a better passing team in 2013. Smith is the best quarterback Dwayne Bowe has ever worked with, and big things should be expected from him. Meanwhile, Jamaal Charles will get a chance to show his prowess in the passing game given Reid's tendencies in the past. Friday night will also mark the debut of Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Kansas City should be strong defensive team. The pass rush will again be imposing, and the Chiefs added Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson in the secondary to replace Stanford Routt and Javier Arenas on a unit powered by Brandon Flowers. The player to watch during the preseason will be Dontari Poe, who has developed slowly since being the No. 11 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Meet the Saints
With Payton and Brees back together, the Saints offense should once again be dangerous. Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles enter the season completely healthy, which is a big boost to the passing game as well. The Saints hope Marques Colston can get healthy in time for the start of the season. Lance Moore and Kenny Stills are the best options behind Colston at wide receiver in the meantime. Jermon Bushrod is gone as Brees' left tackle, but the Saints drafted Terron Armstead in the third round and have Charles Brown to add competition.
New Orleans' defense will have a new look in 2013 as the team switches to a 3-4 scheme. It may take a few seasons for the Saints to accumulate the personnel to run the new defense effectively, though. In 2012, the Saints struggled to defend the pass, but they signed Keenan Lewis away from the Steelers and drafted Kenny Vaccaro in the first round in hopes of turning things around in that department.
Local Takes: Chiefs
Joel Thorman of Arrowhead Pride cites the Chiefs' linebackers as the team's strongest unit for the upcoming season.
Chiefs fans will tell you this is an elite group. Many others would probably agree. On paper, the Chiefs have an outstanding group of linebackers. Tamba Hali is a proven commodity, you know what you're going to get from him, even if he might possibly on the back end of his career. Justin Houston sure looks like a rising star. Derrick Johnson is one of the most complete linebackers in the NFL.
Local Takes: Saints
Should Galette be able to exceed beyond the high expectations that are being set for him, there is another undrafted free agent outside linebacker that it would be wonderful if Galette could pattern himself after. That is former Pittsburgh Steeler and current Cincinnati Bengal James Harrison.
Follow the Fun
Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Arrowhead Pride and Canal Street Chronicles, for more analysis and highlights from the game.
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Chiefs: @ArrowheadPride, @AdamTeicher
Saints: @CanalStreetChronicles, @MikeTriplett
The Chiefs are favored by as much as three points, according to Odds Shark.
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