By Fred Liggett

2017 saw the Kansas City Chiefs claim their second straight AFC West Division title and then end a season with a disappointing playoff loss. Successful teams in the NFL usually just tweak their rosters in the off season hoping that the same core group of guys can repeat the results the following year. The Chiefs followed a different blueprint this past off season that saw the team get rid of many key veterans on the team. The first to go was Chiefs QB Alex Smith who guided the team’s offense the past five seasons. The team also cut on the defensive side of the ball saying good bye to all time franchise leading tackler Derrick Johnson after 13 years. Long time LB Tomba Hali was also let go. Younger players such as all pro CB Marcus Peters also left, Peters ended up in Los Angeles with the Rams following a trade before the draft.

The NFL has been called “Not for Long” be many followers as players change teams with a greater frequency than ever before. The Chiefs replaced the veterans with new faces such as Starting QB Patrick Mahomes now in his 2nd year but first as a starter. The team’s front office led by GM Brett Veach added WR Sammy Watkins to help an already stout receiving core. Joining the team’s defense is LB Anthony Hitchens and CB Kendall Fuller. A KC area native in DT Xavier Williams also came aboard in the off season to help the Chiefs maintain AFC West division dominance.

The 2018 schedule will not see the Chiefs on national TV as much as a year ago when a franchise record six prime time appearances was on the schedule. The Chiefs will play against four playoff teams from a year ago including a road game at defending AFC Champion New England. The season opens with two straight road games at division rival Los Angeles Chargers and at Pittsburgh. The Chiefs only home game the month of September is the home opener Sept. 23 against much improved San Francisco. While the Chiefs may get off to a slow start due to the difficulties in the schedule the team can look forward to a strong finish thanks to playing three of their final four games at home. The team’s bye week is in week 11 this year which should help the team prepare for a final stretch run to the playoffs.

The Chiefs will get off to a slow start thanks to so many new faces seeing playing time and the young team traveling a lot to kick things off. Veteran coach Andy Reid has been through transitions like this before and traditionally has seen strong finishes from his teams. Thanks to an offense featuring the NFL leading rusher from a year ago in RB Kareem Hunt along with Pro Bowlers WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce expect the team to always be in games. A Mahomes led offense will be entertaining to watch but will not be mistake free. The defense needs to come together with so many new parts to aid the Chiefs in a return to the playoffs. Helping the new guys will be veteran LB Justin Houston and All Pro CB Eric Berry.

I see the Chiefs remaining in the mix for a Division title all season long in the AFC West largely due to a division with teams in transition. Thanks to a strong finish to the year the Chiefs will post a winning record at 9-7. Then it will be time for the team and it’s fans to look forward to bigger & better things down the road from this young talented squad. That’s What I REID Into It for this season.

What I REID Into It Is Sponsored By Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar