Nostra Jacobs: Predicting the 2017 season

The Kansas City Chiefs head into their fifth season under Andy Reid and have yet to experience a losing season during his tenure. In 2017, they will face one of their toughest schedules to date based on strength of schedule. Kansas City’s opponents had a .576 winning percentage in 2016.

The only team with a tougher schedule in the NFL is the Chiefs’ AFC West foe the Denver Broncos at a .578 opponent winning percentage. The San Diego Chargers come in third at .568 and the Oakland Raiders have the fourth toughest at a .564 opponent winning percentage.

With a tough schedule ahead, here are some predictions for the 2017 outcome.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith dropped back to the pass during the playoff game against the New England Patriots on Jan. 16, 2016. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

Week 1: at New England Patriots

The Chiefs will travel into a tough environment to open the NFL season on Thursday Night Football. This is the type of opponents the Chiefs have yet to conquer: the battle-tested playoff team with an elite quarterback in Tom Brady. The game will be a good measuring stick for where the Chiefs roster is or isn’t on a championship caliber level. Unfortunately the Chiefs fall in this game based on past history where minor mistakes add up to a seven point loss.

Record: 0-1

Week 2: vs Philadelphia Eagles

Former Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson bring his copy of Andy Reid’s playbook into Arrowhead Stadium. Reid and Sutton are very familiar with their philosophy and how to execute it better. The Chiefs come away with a victory in their home opener.

Record: 1-1

Week 3: at Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have a fast front seven under Gus Bradley and are a much more discipline defense. Head Coach Anthony Lynn will bring a physical mentality to the run game and the offense will maintain familiarity since Offensive Coordinator Ken Wisenhunt was retained from last year. The Chiefs pull out a win against a very tough defense before the annual injury bug typically hits the Chargers.

Record: 2-1

Week 4: vs Washington

The Chiefs welcome Washington’s Jay Gruden and his roster to the unfriendly primetime confines of Arrowhead. Their offense will likely sputter early on with the loss of Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Kansas City can catch them at a good time in week four and come out with their third victory of the season.

Record: 3-1

Week 5: at Houston Texans

Former Chief Mike Vrabel takes over the defensive coordinator title for Romeo Crennel who is now the assistant head coach. Bill O’Brien will call his own plays after he did not name a new offensive coordinator following the departure of George Godsey. The Texans are still a very athletic, physical and stout defense that will cause teams problems. Houston’s weakness lies in their quarterback situation. Their starter is Tom Savage and their backup is first round pick Deshaun Watson. Savage looked uncomfortable in the pocket during the preseason and Watson had accuracy issues inside the pocket and on some of his rollouts. The quarterback situation will likely be the difference in the Texans season. The Chiefs come away with their fourth victory of the season.

Record: 4-1

Week 6: vs Pittsburgh Steelers

The Chiefs lone victory in fourth tries during the Andy Reid era came during their 2015 playoff run with Landry Jones at quarterback. The other three times Ben Roethlisberger has defeated the Chiefs. This is another one of those teams that Kansas City needs to get over the hump against. Unfortunately they still aren’t there at this time but a potential January match-up looms in this scenario.

Record: 4-2

Week 7: at Oakland Raiders

Andy Reid is 7-1 against the Raiders during his tenure in Kansas City. He is 4-0 since Jack Del Rio became the head coach.  The last time the Chiefs fell in Oakland was on a 2014 Thursday night game coming off back to back physical opponents in the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks. Fast forward three years later and the Chiefs play the Raiders on a Thursday night after facing two physical defenses in the Texans and Steelers. There is a chance Derek Carr gets his second win over the Chiefs on another short week.

Record: 4-3

Week 8: vs Denver Broncos

The Chiefs return home in primetime after ten days to heal following their short week road trip.  Bob Sutton has fared well against Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and will have a lot of familiarity with him and quarterback Trevor Simian. The Broncos defense despite being athletic just doesn’t have the same mentality as they did under former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips now with the Rams. The Chiefs come away with their second AFC West victory of the season.

Record: 5-3

Week 9: at Dallas Cowboys

Sutton potentially gets his first taste of the Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott era. The Chiefs will face one of their toughest offensive lines outside of the Patriots, Steelers and Raiders with the Cowboys. Dallas has invested well with athletic and youthful linemen. They are the engine that makes the team go and will be a tough task for the Chiefs front seven. With the bye week on the horizon the Chiefs likely need a breather after this game.

Record: 5-4

Week 10: Bye

The Chiefs remain undefeated against the bye week and should continue to do so.

Record: 5-4

Week 11: at New York Giants

Kansas City begins to first stretch of their New York schedule tour dates. Andy Reid fields strong teams coming off the bye week and this year shouldn’t be any different.

Record: 6-4

Week 12: vs Buffalo Bills

The Bills are rebuilding the roster to fit much different schemes than their prior seasons under Rex Ryan and Jim Schwartz. Andy Reid will be familiar with four coaches on the staff as Sean McDemott, Juan Castillo, David Culley and Chad Hall all worked under him. Buffalo will likely be more comfortable in their schemes at this point of the season but the Chiefs pull out their second consecutive victory over the city of New York.

Record: 7-4

Week 13: at New York Jets

The Chiefs complete their New York schedule tour with the Jets. New York’s roster is lacking in multiple areas this season and at this point will likely be counting down the days until the season ends and they have one of the top two picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Record: 8-4

Week 14: vs Oakland Raiders

Derek Carr and the Raiders explosive offense will likely be firing on all cylinders and have grown accustom to outscoring their opponents throughout the season. Unfortunately for Oakland there will be plenty of coaches film on how to attack this defense and match their offense point for point. The Chiefs pickup their third AFC West victory.

Record: 9-4

Week 15: vs Los Angeles Chargers

This could potentially be Philip Rivers last appearance at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs will lose an additional prep day with this being a Saturday night game. Los Angeles health will determine how tight of a game this turns into but the Chiefs come away with their fourth AFC West victory.

Record: 10-4

Week 16: vs Miami Dolphins

Jay Cutler at the helm of Adam Gase’s offense should be in-sync at this point. The Dolphins will potentially be vying for their second consecutive playoff appearance. Unfortunately the cold and the Chiefs defense forces the reckless Jay Cutler to turn the ball over multiple times and leads to a Chiefs victory.

Record: 11-4

Week 17: at Denver Broncos

The Chiefs finish New Years Eve with their seventh consecutive victory over a Broncos team likely still battling for roster spots in the 2018 season.

Record: 12-4

AFC West Prediction
  1. Chiefs (12-4)

Kansas City has arguably the best balance and depth among the AFC West teams and it’s why they get the nod.

  1. Chargers (10-6)

Los Angeles has always lacked a quality defensive coordinator to harness the athletic ability this roster was capable of. The Chargers also needed a more physical run minded coach to take some of the burden off an elder Philip Rivers. The injury bug will decide if this team can finally punch their playoff ticket.

  1. Raiders (9-7)

Oakland will likely be the media darlings of the conference because of their explosive offense but their defense looked lost in the preseason despite it being the third year of the scheme. The Raiders have a chance to be the 2003 Kansas City Chiefs. A good quarterback, a great offensive line, an effective run game and explosive but a defense that can’t stop a nose bleed with a very tough schedule.

  1. Broncos (7-9)

Denver will be finding their way with the new coaching staff. The offensive line looked improved during the preseason but the combination of a rookie left tackle and Trevor Simian will likely not mix well for the 2017 season despite the defense and receivers best efforts.

AFC Playoff Predictions
  1. Patriots (14-2)
  2. Steelers (13-3)
  3. Chiefs (12-4)
  4. Titans (10-6)
  5. Chargers (10-6)
  6. Ravens (9-7)
NFC Playoff Predictions
  1. Cowboys
  2. Seahawks
  3. Packers
  4. Panthers
  5. Buccaneers
  6. Cardinals
Super Bowl Prediction

Patriots over the Seahawks

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Nick Jacobs is a contributing writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @Jacobs71.

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