It’s that time of year again. The leaves are starting to fall, the weather’s cooling down, and something just feels right. It’s Week 1 of the NFL season. If that doesn’t get you pumped up then I don’t know what will. It was in question whether there would even be a season this year, but as the lockout went on and we inched closer and closer to the start of training camp I think we all wanted to believe that there would be an NFL season this fall. I mean what’s better than sitting back and watching football on a Sunday afternoon? Sundays are meant for football…And Monday nights…And the occasional Thursdays later on in the season.
It feels good to be back and I’m excited to begin my first season with Pro Sports Blogging. Now let’s hop into the Kansas City Chiefs 2011 campaign and their Week 1 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs are coming off a 10-6 season and are the defending AFC West champions. From 2007-2009 the team won a combined ten games, so they clearly made great strides last year, but that’s not enough for Head Coach Todd Haley and crew. They want to prove that last year was not a fluke and that the Chiefs are for real.
Going into their first game of the season the team is faced with a number of questions. The first of which is how healthy is Matt Cassel? Coach Haley and Cassel both have said that the quarterback has been a full participant in practice, but how effective will Cassel be if he’s on the field? Football players are tough; they take hits and play on. We saw Cassel come back from an appendectomy last season and he seems determined to not let this rib injury hold him back. If he’s on the field he’ll be facing a revamped Bills defense, which added big names such as Nick Barnett and Shawne Merriman. You know that those guys are champing at the bit to get the season started and will definitely be putting the pressure on the bruised quarterback.
Now let’s talk about who’s going to be protecting Cassel. When the Chiefs made their final roster cuts the team only kept seven offensive lineman. Of course, their two main tight ends Leonard Pope and Anthony Becht, now that Tony Mokeaki is out for the season, are known more for their blocking than their pass catching ability so they’ll help the line. But the OL is going to have to step up, stay healthy, and do their job, especially this week because you know Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey, Assistant Head Coach Dave Wannstedt, and Defensive Coordinator George Edwards are coming up with a game plan to get into the backfield and also stop the Chiefs’ fierce running game.
On the defensive side of the ball the Chiefs are looking pretty good. Only five teams in the AFC gave up fewer points last season and they’re going up against a Bills offense that scored the second least amount of points in the AFC only behind the Dolphins. Sure the Bills have some playmakers. C.J. Spiller is a threat every time he touches the ball and Steve Johnson, who came out of nowhere last year, can dazzle you with his speed. But Romeo Crennel’s defense has their share of playmakers, too. Their safeties, Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis, made huge impacts during their rookie season, Derrick Johnson had a career high in tackles last year with 121, and the big fella Tamba Hali had 14.5 sacks. In addition, Hali was given a 5 year/$60 million contract with $35 million guaranteed in the offseason, so he’ll want to show that he’s worth the money. The Chiefs defense is going to be flying around the field all day on Sunday and you know the fans will also be loud and ready to go. The Bills are going to have their hands full just like every offense the Chiefs face this season. If Kansas City is able to play defense at the level they’re capable of and their offense holds up their side of the bargain I see the Chiefs repeating as AFC West champions.
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Written by Matt Brody