The 2012 NFL season is finally upon us, and fans everywhere are excited. Although the preseason is just beginning, a lot of transactions and moves have already taken place around the league, and there is sure to be a lot more occurring in the near future. In the minds of Chiefs fans everywhere, the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs are poised to win the AFC West division as long as they can stay healthy. We know, Chiefs Nation, that our team will win the AFC West, but it all depends on if we can stay healthy throughout the course of the season. We have the right coaching staff (which we will discuss later), the right front office (i.e. Scott Pioli), and all the necessary tools in all three phases of the game. The X-factor for the Chiefs, however, is their schedule, where half of the Chiefs first twelve games are against playoff teams, three of them wild cards, from a year ago. Regardless, the road to the Louisiana Superdome will be a tough one, but a very entertaining one to watch nonetheless.
There are some very interesting facts concerning the Chiefs history against the six playoff teams that the team will face in 2012, beginning with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals, since 2006, are 1-2 against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Unfortunately, their last two meetings, played in Cincinnati, ended with a Chiefs loss. Against the Atlanta Falcons the Chiefs are 5-2 all-time, and in 2004, the last time these two teams met at Arrowhead, the Chiefs defeated the Falcons by a score of 56-10. In 2008, their most recent meeting, the Falcons defeated the Chiefs 38-14 in Atlanta. Moving forward, the Chiefs will travel to Heinz Field this year to square up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who the Chiefs haven’t beaten in Pittsburgh since December 21, 1986. And although the Chiefs are dead even at 3-3 against the Baltimore Ravens, the Ravens have beaten the Chiefs in their previous three meetings. Their most recent loss against the mighty Ravens was at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2010 playoffs during the AFC Wild Card round. The Chiefs are 0-2 all-time against the Ravens at Arrowhead. The Chiefs must win the tie-breaker, considering that I am from Baltimore, Maryland. Against the New Orleans Saints the Chiefs are 4-5 all-time, and haven’t beaten the Saints in New Orleans since September 4, 1994. The Saints have beaten the Chiefs in their last two meetings, which were in 2004 and 2008.
Finally, we have the Denver Broncos, who the Chiefs are 56-48 against all-time. The Broncos are our division rival, and it’s always a dog fight when these two teams match-up; it will be even more interesting in 2012 with the addition of Peyton Manning into the AFC West. If any coach knows how to handle Peyton Manning, it would be Romeo Crennel, from the time that he spent preparing against him while he was the defensive coordinator in New England. In addition to these historical facts, if I may, the Oakland Raiders have been beaten the Kansas City Chiefs five consecutive years at Arrowhead Stadium, and the Chiefs are 2-7 against the San Diego Chargers since 2007, including four straight losses at Qualcomm Stadium.
At Missouri Western State, in St. Joseph, Missouri, the 2012 Chiefs have been slowly putting the pieces to success together since their organized team activities began in late May. The “ACL Club,” consisting of Lord Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, and Tony Moeaki, have made tremendous progress towards being included in that starting line-up for the home opener . Chiefs Nation, Lord Jamaal is back! He is at practice making cuts and exploding up field just as he did prior to his injury a year ago. The entire “ACL Club” has been experiencing a little swelling after practice, but nothing to indicate that there might be a problem for these players to perform as they did before their injuries. Eric Berry is looking especially good, and he gave glimpses of his old self during the Chiefs scrimmage against the Arizona Cardinals when he, at times, was assigned to cover the magnificent Larry Fitzgerald. The “Killer B’s,” still a man down due to the selfish actions of Dwayne Bowe, have accepted a new member by the name of Josh Bellamy. Thus, the “Killer B’s” are now Jon Baldwin, Steve Breaston, and Josh Bellamy. Baldwin has consistently made big play after big play throughout both camps, which leads one to believe that great things are on the horizon for this young man.
The defensive line is shaping up and in the final stages of its development; however, only one thing concerns me. Tyson Jackson is due to make $14.7 million, with a $2.7 million bonus in 2013. This could create some roster casualties next year that could set this project behind. On the bright side, this scenario forces the “2012 Tyson Jackson” to audition for “2013 NFL,” and perform like he has never performed before! Let Dwayne Bowe’s current situation serve as a reminder for Jackson to put up or shut up. Dontari Poe, the Chiefs first pick in the 2012 draft, is struggling to learn the system (and the NFL for that matter). Look for the undrafted second year man, Anthony Toribio, to be the starter at nose tackle this season.
I also feel that some Chiefs players that I would like to see on the field during the season may be lined up with the practice squad. For example, while Brandon Siler is a good player, he doesn’t seem to be fully recovered from his Achilles injury. Junior Hemmingway, the rookie wide out, appears to be an underachiever and is on and off the injury list with a groin problem. Also, FB Taylor Gentry failed the Chiefs medical exam a week ago and was released, and DB Kyle McCarthy was the first Chief to be bitten by the injury bug when he tore up his knee.
To my surprise, CB Stanford Routt has been a disappointment because he is getting burnt on the long balls at practice. In the meantime, I am becoming very fond of S Abram Elam and DB Jalil Brown, a second year player out of the University of Colorado. Last year I was undoubtedly an adversary of Brown, but this year will be the complete opposite. Moreover, Ricky Stanzi continues to impress me as a back-up, especially when I think of Tyler Palko. Offensive lineman, Tony Ugoh, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, has unexpectedly retired, of which I was thoroughly disgusted, and fullback Shane Bannon has given the Chiefs lots of optimism at the position, but may still end up on the practice squad with Devon Wylie. The player that I am most excited about this year is Justin Houston. Houston has a ton of talent, and in a few years may develop a flair that could resemble Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens. This guy is a moxie!
Lastly, I would like to acknowledge six of the men on the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff, who are loaded with world championship experience, and who seem to be the foundation of what could help bring a championship back to Kansas City for the first time since 1969. Brian Dabol, the offensive coordinator, this guy is full of enthusiasm and thinks outside of the box. Dabol is at the beginning of what looks to be a very promising career as an assistant coach in the NFL. Romeo Crennel, the head coach/ defensive coordinator, definitely has the players’ respect and admiration. Crennel has been coaching for over 30 years in the NFL and has three Super Bowl rings. Maurice Carthon, the assistant head coach, has 19 years of experience as an NFL assistant coach, and has been a member of four Super Bowl teams as either a player or a coach. Jack Bicknell, Jr., the offensive line coach, is entering his first season with the Chiefs after winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants under Tom Coughlin.
Anthony Pleasant, the defensive line coach, who is in his third year with the Chiefs, owns 58 sacks as a player and two Super Bowl rings. Emmitt Thomas, the defensive backs coach, is a Hall of Fame defensive back who played 13 seasons with the Chiefs, and was a member of Kansas City’s Super Bowl team in 1969, as well as two other Super Bowl rings as a coach with Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Thomas also owns the Chiefs’ franchise record of 58 interceptions.
Chiefs Nation, I have not felt this good about our team in 15 years, and as long as we stay healthy, the sky is the limit. Go Chiefs!