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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Column: This year, the Chiefs are no joke

After 2012’s dismal year, 2013 is looking up.

Derek Franks

Sept. 18, 2013

Lately, it feels like when the Kansas City Chiefs are mentioned around a non-KC native, I hear laughs. Or snickers. Or a degrading comment. And typically, when a team only wins two games in a season, it’s perfectly justified.

Being from Dallas, I’m used to it. The Cowboys are the definition of sketch comedy according to non-fans.

So, as I hung my head watching the ’Boys shoot themselves in the feet yet again this past weekend at Arrowhead — though, I’m used to it by now — I realized that perhaps there is something going on in Kansas City, something that a lot of people aren’t aware of.

Just maybe — and you might want to sit down for this one — the Chiefs might be worth a hoot this year.

Just a season removed from having the NFL’s worst record, the Chiefs have already matched their total number of wins from 2012, only two weeks into the 2013 campaign.

I’m not as surprised as some of you that things are starting off better in KC. I actually have them plugged for a playoff spot this year, and despite not looking totally impressive in their two wins, I think it’s a possibility.

For a team that was probably eligible to be the first pick in the draft by week eight of last year, that’s saying something. And yes, I know it’s only two games, but I really think there is good reason for optimism.

The team drastically improved with just two key personnel additions: coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith. Reid is arguably one of the greatest coaches to never win a Super Bowl. Smith proved himself over the last two years before an untimely injury led to his ouster from San Francisco.

The Chiefs always had a good-looking team on paper, and that’s certainly the case this year. Smith has the weapons at receiver. Jamaal Charles, returning from an injury-plagued season, is one of the most overlooked tailbacks in the league. The defense is loaded with talent; talent that should have performed better than 20th-ranked defense in the league last year. I expect it to be better this season. Add a few other solid pickups over the offseason and that paper is starting to look really pretty.

But the roster isn’t the biggest reason to have confidence. The club plays one of the league’s most favorable schedules to ease them into this new era. They belong to the league’s worst division — the AFC West — where, while Denver is a Super Bowl favorite, Oakland and San Diego are, let’s just say not Super Bowl favorites. I fully expect the Chiefs to go undefeated against both.

The most positive attribute about the schedule is that the Chiefs play out of conference games against the NFC East. No one knows the division better than Andy Reid, who should take full advantage of that familiarity. Clearly, he already has.

We know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but this is part of the process for the rebuilding of the Chiefs. You have a terrible season; you have good draft picks and are awarded an easy schedule. What’s important is taking action outside of those developments. What KC has in a mostly talented roster and very competent head coach is where 2-14 turns into 10-6.

So, don’t be afraid, Kansas City. You’re not in the Twilight Zone. The Chiefs might actually be decent this year.

At least they already won’t be worse than last year. Then again, that could be pretty hard.

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