Breaking down each week of the 2017-18 Kansas City Chiefs schedu - KCTV5

Breaking down each week of the 2017-18 Kansas City Chiefs schedule

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV5) – After a 12-win season and divisional round playoff appearance, the Kansas City Chiefs head into their 2017-18 campaign eyeing back-to-back division crowns.

However, the schedule they face is one the toughest since Andy Reid arrived, with multiple Super Bowl contenders and 11 games against teams coming off of winning record seasons.

Week 1: Chiefs at Patriots, Thursday Night Football, NFL season opener

In what would have been a tough matchup regardless of where it fell on the schedule, the Chiefs find themselves at the center of the NFL world week one. Kicking off the league’s season on primetime Thursday Night Football, Kansas City has the chance to play spoiler in New England on the night the Patriots celebrate their championship.

The Patriots have won 12 or more games in each of the last seven seasons, and won 10 or more each of the last 14 seasons, and the odds are not in the Chiefs’ favor against the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick duo.

If the Chiefs want to make a statement that this really is their year, there is no better way to do so than with a primetime win in Foxboro. Kansas City is 5-5 in regular season night games under Reid, but went 3-1 last year behind Tyreek Hill’s seven primetime touchdowns.

One of those five wins did come against the Patriots back in 2014, the last time these two teams squared off in the regular season, when Kansas City throttled New England in a 41-14 Monday Night Football win.

Their most recent matchup did not go as well for Chiefs fans, as the Patriots knocked off Kansas City in the divisional round of the 2015 playoffs by a 27-20 score.

Week 2: Chiefs vs. Eagles

Not the worst of draws after a trip to New England, Kansas City returns home as Doug Pederson faces off against his mentor, Andy Reid, for the first time. Pederson helped lead Philadelphia to a surprising 3-0 start last season, but showed more signs of a rookie head coach with questionable play calls and decisions down the stretch. The Eagles played some of their best football in December, though, which could serve as a confidence booster this early in the season.

Top pick quarterback Carson Wentz is still the main storyline to follow for the Eagles, as he proved last year he could compete despite inconsistent play. Additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to compliment Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews provide more than enough weapons for Wentz as he looks to take a jump in the second year of Pederson’s offense.

Star offensive lineman Lane Johnson is another key player to watch returning from a 10 game suspension, as the Eagles finished 5-1 with him, 2-8 without him. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Jordan Hicks headline a strong front seven that should limit the Chiefs rushing attack, but the secondary is very susceptible to give up the big play. The top returning cornerback is was a seventh round pick last year, Jalen Mills, leaving safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod as the only serviceable players the Eagles can count on. This will be the first early test for Smith and the offense to see what kind of tangible improvements have been made and what fans can expect for the offense in 2017.

Week 3: Chiefs at Chargers

Any Chiefs fans that automatically mark this as a win should think back to week one of the 2016 season, when it took the largest comeback in Chiefs history to top the Chargers. This one is on the road, where the Chiefs have had surprisingly more success against the Chargers, but it’s Kansas City’s first game in Los Angeles.

This will be the Chargers second home game in their new home, and the Chiefs will not see Rivers and company again until week 15. The Chargers' 2016 campaign was especially painful, as nine of the team’s losses came within one score. Bad teams find a way to lose, but Los Angeles is not that far off, especially with Rivers under center.

Anthony Lynn takes over as head coach and Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator, in what should be a younger defense centered around star Joey Bosa. Because of the youth and number of playmakers on both sides, the ceiling and floor for the Chargers is a very wide discrepancy and they could play spoiler numerous times in the AFC West.

This game is virtually a must-win on the Chiefs schedule, as every game from week four until the bye in week 10 is a tough matchup. Kansas City will likely take a 3-3 stretch over the next six games, but that’s only if the team is off to a 2-1 or better start. Losing here to Los Angeles means they’d have to play catchup later on the season, something they’d like to avoid as shown in Houston last year.

Week 4: Chiefs vs. Redskins, Monday Night Football

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins fell just 83 passing yards short of a 5,000-yard season last year and could be one of best signal callers Kansas City faces this year. Washington’s high-powered offense might not reach the same heights it did last year with the departures of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, but weapons like Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder, Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson still pose a serious threat to the Chiefs secondary.

Running back Robert Kelly is coming off a breakthrough rookie campaign and the Redskins impressive offense line, highlighted by pro bowlers Trent Williams, round out an offense that will be one of the toughest Kansas City faces. The Chiefs will need to somehow pressure Cousins in order to limit the Redskins big play offense, which Washington thrived on in 2016.

Washington’s defense was one of the worst in the NFL last year and barely kept them out of the playoffs, despite having one of the NFL’s top corners Josh Norman. Additions like defensive lineman Terrell McClain and linebacker Zach Brown will provide some help, but this is a matchup that is very winnable for Smith and his downfield weapons that could potentially torch the Redskins secondary.

This is their second home game of the year and second primetime game in just four weeks, expect the Arrowhead advantage to be a difference in a tight matchup.

Week 5: Chiefs at Texans, Sunday Night Football

While most fans will remember the two wins in Houston, one a season opener highlighted by a Marcus Peters interception and two Travis Kelce touchdowns, the forgotten game is last year’s week two loss in Houston.

Houston’s defense, who at the time still had a healthy J.J. Watt, kept KC to just 12 points and the Chiefs started the season 1-1. The Texans have a very strong defense and weapons on offense in Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins to really challenge the Chiefs. Hopkins was one of the few players that really got to corner Marcus Peters, which will be a key storyline to watch this time around.

It’s also Kansas City’s third primetime game in just five weeks, so the Chiefs will be no stranger to the spotlight by this time around. This could be either good or bad, as a slow start would put a lot of pressure on this game with the Steelers, Raiders, Broncos and Cowboys on the horizon.

Still, this is a matchup where the Chiefs should have the better quarterback, which presents a golden opportunity to steal a road game and fend off a potential challenger in the AFC wild card race, if another team takes the AFC West crown.

Week 6: Chiefs vs. Steelers

The Steelers will return to Arrowhead once again as Kansas City looks for redemption following the heart-breaking two-point loss in last year’s postseason. Derrick Johnson will likely be back this time around and will significantly help the run defense against running back Le’Veon Bell.

Justin Houston also figures to be back, and while Houston did play in the playoff game, he was often relegated to pass coverage as he was still recovering from an ACL tear. If Houston and Johnson are healthy and play like the Pro Bowl players they are, the Chiefs defense should be able to force much shorter drives than in the playoffs.

The Steelers defense kept Tyreek Hill fairly quiet in the postseason, something that really crippled the Kansas City offense, so how much his role is expanded in Reid’s offense could be the difference in scoring more than 16 points this time around. Do not count out Travis Kelce either, who after a monstrous regular season had a very disappointing playoff game, and will most likely have revenge on his mind.

Week 7: Chiefs at Raiders, Thursday Night Football

Coming off a 12-4 season, just like the Chiefs, the Raiders are likely Kansas City’s biggest threat to the division crown. After the Chiefs loss to the Titans last year, Oakland was in the division’s driver’s seat before a Derek Carr injury kept him out for the remainder of the year.

Carr emerged as an MVP candidate and possibly overtook Phillip Rivers as the top quarterback in the AFC West. His 28 touchdown passes were four less than in his second year, but the seven less interceptions and 15 less sacks showed the quarterback could still sling it across the field while minimizing mistakes.

Many thought defense would be addressed in the offseason, but General Manager Reggie McKenzie went out and added Tight End Jared Cook and speedy receiver Cordarrelle Patterson to put more weapons at Carr’s disposal. Added with options like Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, this is the toughest matchup the Chiefs secondary will have to face all season long.

Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton has shown he has the formula to beat Derek Carr, but how long that holds up, as Carr continues to develop, remains to be seen. Kansas City will be able to score on Oakland, especially as Hill and Kelce continue to evolve, and there’s still the slight chance that the Raiders regress in 2017, after eight of their wins came within just one score last year.

Week 8: Chiefs vs. Broncos, Monday Night Football

All signs point to Trevor Siemian hanging onto the Broncos quarterback job over second year QB Paxton Lynch, but Denver is hoping change behind the scenes spark improvement on the offensive side. Mike McCoy is taking over as offensive coordinator after his tenure with the Chargers, and additions to the offensive line in Ronald Leary and Menelik Watson could help solidify a dreadful line last year.

More time to throw and a more creative scheme could either help Siemian go to the next level, or further showcase the offense’s deficiencies. C.J. Anderson has developed into one of the league’s most reliable backs, but how big of a challenge the Broncos really are likely falls in the hands of whoever is taking snaps under center.

The vaunted defense is without one of their leaders, DeMarcus Ware, but has former first round pick and MU grad Shane Ray to fill right in. If Ray can evolve into a top pass rusher like he’s shown at times, the duo of Ray and Von Miller could wreak havoc in AFC West backfields.

Linebacker Brandon Marshall will play a key role in new Joe Woods’ game plan, as Woods takes over for Wade Phillips. Run defense was the only real liability for the Denver defense last year, and General Manager John Elway hopes Kyle Peko and Zach Martin will pick up the slack.

Week 9: Chiefs at Cowboys

The two matchups going into the year that fans knew presented the biggest obstacle for Kansas City was against AFC #1 seed New England and NFC #1 seed Dallas. The Cowboys dynamic duo of Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott will host Kansas City on their home field before the Chiefs head into their bye week.

The significance of this game really is dependent on how the Chiefs have fared in weeks four through eight. Four primetime games in five weeks against three playoff teams, before facing the best of the NFC, is quite the gauntlet of a stretch. If the Chiefs stumble to the finish line of the mini run, this will be viewed as a game to stop the bleeding. If they are able to stay afloat going into Dallas, the team can play loose knowing it’s not an insurmountable deficit if they don’t leave Dallas with a win.

By Week 9, the Chiefs will have a good idea what kind of quarterback Prescott is, as even though he put up a stellar rookie year, a sophomore slump is never out of the cards. He was very dependent on a strong offensive line and great running attack with Elliot, so if either of those areas falter, how he responds will be key.

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Chiefs at Giants

The Chiefs are facing the Giants at MetLife Stadium for the first time since 2005, where Kansas City has zero wins on their ledger in franchise history. MetLife Stadium is not known for having one of the league’s most hostile atmospheres, but the Giants do possess one of the best defenses in the NFL.

A strong pass-rush of Jason Pierre-Paul and Oliver Vernon look to overcome the departure of Johnathan Hankins, while pro bowl safety Landon Collins aims to build upon his breakout year. Collins is entering his third year and finished tied for the most interceptions among NFC safeties last year.

The combination of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. present and obvious challenge, but whether or not the offense as a whole will click remains to be seen. New York is counting on now second year wide out Sterling Shepard and new addition Brandon Marshall to aid one of the league’s worst red zone offenses. Part of that blame can be shouldered by a weak offense line and non-existent running game, but the Giants' offensive hopes ride with Manning, who looks to fend off father time and bounce back from a disappointing year.

While this is one of the tougher road games on the schedule, it’s one the Chiefs are capable of stealing depending on the state of New York’s offense at the time. Kansas City’s red zone defense was one of the best in the NFL last year, so Smith manufacturing just a couple touchdown drives could be all it takes to steal a big road win.

Week 12: Chiefs vs. Bills

The Chiefs have played the Bills in nine of the last ten season and won each of their last three meetings. Former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott takes over for Rex Ryan as head coach and the Bills could be a contender in the AFC wild card picture.

LeSean McCoy proved he is still one of the NFL’s best running backs last season, both taking hand offs and through the air, and Tyrod Taylor earned another year in the Buffalo system. The Bills could draft a quarterback to groom under Taylor, but it is unlikely one will unseat Taylor in 2017.

Micah Hyde is the Bills prized offseason addition, safety out of Green Bay, as Lynn looks to strengthen a weak secondary. Another marquee matchup with Peters, Sammy Watkins missed most of last year with an injury but has torched the Chiefs in past years and is capable of doing again in 2017.

Week 13: Chiefs at Jets

The Jets quarterback situation could be a complete unknown come week 13 and many of their marquee players left in the offseason. Eric Decker is coming back healthy after missing most of 2016 with an injury, and Head Coach Todd Bowles is counting on regaining the magic found in 2015 when he won coach of the year.

However, the Jets defense was one of the worst in the league last year, and while the signing of cornerback Morris Claiborne will help, New York will be counting on production from a number of rookies and unproven players if they want to still be relevant by week 13. Heading into a matchup with Raiders with AFC West implications, this is a must-win for the Chiefs even if it is on the road.

Week 14: Chiefs vs. Raiders

While it may not have the luster of the Patriots or Cowboys, or come with the shining lights that the Redskins and Broncos will bring, this game is likely the most important game on the Chiefs schedule. As shown with their early December matchup last year, where Kansas City took control of the division, only to lose it and regain it a week later, this game could be the decisive matchup for the AFC West title.

Carr did not perform well at Arrowhead last year, with his injured finger, the bitter cold and Arrowhead crowd all likely a reason why. He’ll likely have to overcome at least two of those things again this time around, as this marks the first of a three game home stretch that Kansas City really needs to win. Weeks 11 through 16 are necessary to make up for the tough stretch that weeks four through 10 provide.

The Chiefs best chances on making a postseason run are if they win the division and host a home playoff game, and losing to the Raiders at home, no matter when in the schedule, would make that goal extremely difficult.

Week 15: Chiefs vs. Chargers, Saturday Night Football

The same scouting report applies here as detailed in week four, only with this game magnified even more. While the first game is key for the tough stretch that awaits, this game could be the difference between the playoffs and staying home.

The Chiefs have the home field advantage, with the second of three home games in December, something that could be an issue for a California team like Los Angles, along with the likes of Miami and Oakland. It is on a shortened week with a Saturday night matchup, the first for Kansas City since 2011, which shouldn’t be too big of an obstacle since the two squared off earlier in the season.

Week 16: Chiefs vs. Dolphins

Not the most feared of Kansas City’s AFC East matchups, the Dolphins are coming off a postseason appearance and should not be taken lightly, even at home. A lot depends on how well inconsistent quarterback Ryan Tannehill performs, but the weapons around him are there.

Chiefs fans fell in love with Tyreek Hill’s explosive plays last year, while Miami fans have their own game breaker in Jarvis Landry. A small, yet very physical offensive player, provides a must-watch matchup with Peters.

The trenches are where Kansas City has the advantage over Miami, as the Dolphins offensive line has not stayed healthy over the last three years and the defense line was one of the worst at stopping the run last season. Ndamukong Suh is a pass rushing force up the middle, but this is a chance for the Chiefs offensive line to show their run blocking potential, something they rarely did in 2016.

Linebacker Cameron Wake was hit or miss last season, and it’s no surprise the Dolphins won most of the games in which he reached the quarterback. If Kansas City can keep Smith clean and stop the Miami run, something tough to do when healthy, the Chiefs have a chance.

Week 17: Chiefs at Broncos

At this point in the season, it’s never clear as to what situations each team will be in with injuries and division races. This especially applies to the Broncos as by now, if the Broncos are still in contention, Siemian is likely still the quarterback. If it’s Lynch, something probably went wrong down the road and the Broncos may not have all that to play for.

Either way, a win in Denver is always tough and week 17 could be when the Chiefs fight for home field advantage, fight for the division or maybe just a playoff spot at all. The scouting report detailed under week eight still applies here, but Reid always finds a way to change the game plan in some way the second time around, as shown in the Chiefs victory over Denver on Christmas last season.

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