The Kansas City Chiefs have much higher expectations upon the team’s shoulders this season after the offseason they’ve enjoyed and the knowledge that impact players like Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry are coming back into the fold. Yet the AFC West is also much tougher with Peyton Manning’s presence with the Denver Broncos. The Chargers have radically reshaped the roster and the Raiders even have reason to hope. In short, the AFC West should be a much better division all around in 2012.
That said, Mel Kiper has given his audit of the division over at ESPN and he has Matt Cassel as the hinge upon which the Chiefs’ entire season will swing. The Chiefs quarterback made the Pro Bowl in 2010, but even then he’s still generally regarded as a league-average quarterback. Kiper writes:
We just have no idea what we’ll see in Cassel. He’s on a yo-yo stretch, with a good year in 2008, a bad one in 2009, a huge bounce-back year in 2010 when he had 27 TDs and just seven interceptions, and then last year a mix of average play and injury. If he’s not good in 2012, it’s time to shop. It might be anyway. I expect the defense to be good to very good in 2012, but the offense has to do its part as well.
The Chiefs landed several new faces on that offense, including Eric Winston and Peyton Hillis, so there should be reason for improvement. But the quarterback is the one who must rise to the occasion and carry his team.