Following a 2010 season that ended with an AFC West championship, the Kansas City Chiefs will follow that up with the third most difficult schedule in the NFL.
Not only did the Chiefs earn a more difficult road to the playoffs, but also three nationally televised games:
Monday, October 31
Chargers at Chiefs – ESPN
Monday, November 21
Chiefs at Patriots – ESPN
Sunday, November 27
Steelers at Chiefs – NBC
Before you start to worry about how difficult the Kansas City schedule will be, appreciate that the nation will get to see the Chiefs at least three times.
If the team is still in the playoff hunt down the stretch I can guarantee you one of their final games will be flexed. The Chiefs final four opponents are the Jets, Packers, Raiders and Broncos. New York and Green Bay are immediately attractive to NBC for flexing and it’s hard to beat division matchups with Oakland or Denver that could determine the winner of the AFC West.
There are certainly tough stretches, but the Chiefs have a chance to really get out of the gate quickly. They open at Arrowhead against Chan Gailey and the rebuilding Buffalo Bills in a game that has to be seen as one of the most winnable of the season. Next up are four games on the road before the bye against the Lions, Chargers, Vikings and Colts. If Kansas City can take those first two games, that would give them a ton of momentum heading into San Diego Week 3 followed by currently quarterback-less Minnesota before having to visit Peyton Manning and friends.
The Chiefs go right back on the road after the bye to take on the Oakland Raiders, but then get a little home cooking with three straight games at Arrowhead against the Chargers, Dolphins and Broncos. All four of those games have to be viewed — yes in April — with Kansas City as the favorite.
Then comes the true “Murderers Row” of games starting with those back-to-back primetime games against the Patriots and Steelers. In Week 13, the Chiefs travel to Chicago to take on the Bears and they wrap up with their four “flexable” games.
No doubt it’s tough on the surface, but nothing that the defending AFC West champions shouldn’t be able to handle if they take another step forward in 2011.