In 2014, prior to every Bengals game we will be sitting down with the editor of the opponents SB Nation page. In week 1 of fake football, we talk Kansas City Chiefs with Joel Thorman (@arrowheadpride), editor of Arrowhead Pride.
Q: In 2012 the Chiefs went 2-14 with what I felt was the most talented 2-14 team ever. I liked their offseason moves to add Alex Smith and Andy Reid and it paid off with an 11-5 season and a WC Playoff berth. Despite the disappointing end of the season, how was the 2013 season viewed by Chiefs fans?
A: It should be viewed as a successful season. Going plus-9 on wins from the previous season is insane improvement. That said, the season ended on a horrible note. The Chiefs blew the huge lead against the Colts in the playoffs. That's what we remember right now. That's been one of the themes throughout the offseason -- finish. And that's all due to the playoff game.
Q: Speaking of 2013, after an impressive 9-0 start, the Chiefs went 2-5 down the stretch and then had the frustrating loss to the Colts in the first round of the playoffs. What happened down the stretch?
A: They started playing better teams, mostly. The secondary was exposed quite a bit against Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, which can be attributed to pass rushers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali both seeing injuries in the second half of the season. Mostly, though, they just played better teams. The Chiefs had a great early run against (backup) quarterbacks who weren't very good.
Q: Speaking of the Colts game, with a 31-10 halftime lead, what went wrong? Was it coaching? Injuries? Poor play? All of the above?
A: I hate to be the guy that blames it on injuries but those did play a huge factor. Brandon Flowers went down with a concussion. Jamaal Charles AND his backup Knile Davis went down. The Chiefs just had the worst timing for injuries. There were plenty of other questions though. Why didn't the Chiefs cover the back end of the field more? Why didn't Dunta Robinson come out earlier? Why didn't they blitz more? There were multiple points where they could have sealed the game late but didn't make the play. It was just an incredible, incredible meltdown.
Q: What is the deepest/strongest position on this 2014 Chiefs team?
A: Probably running back and outside linebacker. Jamaal Charles would start for any NFL team. Knile Davis is a good second-year player. Rookie De'Anthony Thomas has shown some nice burst on stretch plays. And I can't forget Sherman, one of the top fullbacks in the league. The Chiefs had two good pass rushers in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Dee Ford adds another element. While his impact may not be seen largely until year two and beyond, the Chiefs have gotten all three on the field during training camp. Plus, if any injury comes up there would be a safety net. Frank Zombo is a nice veteran reserve and Josh Martin is a good young player worth keeping.
Q: Jamaal Charles is a stud. Outside of Charles, where do you see the big plays coming from on the offensive side of the ball?
A: Umm .... uhhh .... that's the problem. You gotta think Dwayne Bowe, who came into camp looking to be in great shape, will have a better season than he did last year. The Chiefs saw Travis Kelce come back from an injury at tight end. He's probably the biggest reason for improvement with the Chiefs offense. De'Anthony Thomas could turn out to be what the Chiefs might've thought they were getting with Dexter McCluster a few years ago.
Q: What is the most intriguing roster battle in Chiefs camp this year?
A: You'll laugh but it's the No. 3 quarterback. The Chiefs have Alex Smith as the unquestioned starter. Chase Daniel will probably make it depending on who you ask. From there, the Chiefs have 2013 UDFA Tyler Bray and 2014 fifth round pick Aaron Murray. It'd be a tough, tough decision to cut either one of those players. They both should be on the roster. But will the Chiefs keep four quarterbacks? Most teams don't. I'm not sure what will happen here.
Q: Who is a player most Bengals fans won't know, but should know? Or should look for Thursday night?
A: Check out Marcus Cooper, one of the Chiefs starting corners. He was a rookie last year but ended up becoming a starter. The secondary is a concern for most Chiefs fans and Cooper is right in the spotlight. Is he a second year player about to take a big leap? Or has he peaked? Chiefs fans want to know, too.
Q: What is the strength of the 2014 Chiefs? And, what areas of this Chiefs team concern you?
A: The strength would be the running backs and pass rushers. I'm excited to see what the Chiefs defensive line can do. The secondary is the biggest concern.
Q: How do you see the Chiefs stacking up in the AFC West?
A: Optimistically, I'll say second place in the AFC West behind the Broncos but ahead of the Chargers. Pessimistically, I can see the Chiefs finishing third behind the Chargers and Broncos (but ahead of the Raidahhhhs).
Q: What is your prediction for the Chiefs 2014 season?
A: I'm sticking with 9-7. The Chiefs could be a better team in 2014 but it may not be reflected in the record due to a harder schedule (or at least I think it's hard right now).
Q: Were this a regular season game, what would your prediction be?
A: It's August, when any team in the league can be a Super Bowl contender. Let's go with 20-17, Chiefs.