NFL PREVIEWS: Kansas City Chiefs

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David Moore

David Moore has been the senior football writer for FOX Sports since Aug. 2005. He appears weekly on the FSN Baseball Report and MLB on FOX. One more line lorem ipsum dolor sit amet e pluribus unum.

Champs or chumps: The are the trendy pick of many to win this division. Dick Vermeil's history with the previous two franchises he coached — Philadelphia made the playoffs and St. Louis won the Super Bowl in his third year with each club — along with the fact several teams have made the jump from 8-8 to champion in recent years gives this prediction some momentum. Kansas City has what it takes to challenge for the AFC West title. But predictions of grandeur beyond simply making the playoffs appear based on emotion rather than personnel. The need a few more talented starters on defense before they can start talking about the Super Bowl. Reasons for hope: A defense that ranked last in the league last year, allowing an average of 390.5 yards a game, should be significantly improved. Kansas City picked up two starters (linebacker and defensive end ) and a possible third (cornerback ) in free agency. Two more starters (defensive tackle and free safety Jerome Woods) are coming off injuries to assume their rightful place in the starting lineup. This infusion of speed and athletic ability assures that the defense won't be the worst in the league in 2003. With as much as Kansas City has going for it on offense, reaching the middle of the defensive pack will make this team hard to beat.
Meet the 2003
Projected offensive lineup
WR Eddie Kennison
LT Willie Roaf
LG Brian Waters
C Casey Wiegmann
RG Will Shields
RT John Tait
TE Tony Gonzalez
WR Johnnie Morton
QB Trent Green
RB Priest Holmes
FB Tony Richardson

Projected defensive lineup
LE Eric Hicks
DT John Browning
DT Ryan Sims
RE Vonnie Holliday
SLB Scott Fujita
MLB Mike Maslowski
WLB Shawn Barber
CB Eric Warfield
CB William Bartee
SS Greg Wesley
FS Jerome Woods

Projected special teams lineup
K Morten Andersen
P Leo Araguz
KR Dante Hall
PR Dante Hall
LS Kendall Gammon

Scout's take on the
"If remains healthy, the will continue to put points on the board. He opens up some many possibilities for their spread offense. But just as valuable is and the matchup problems he presents opposing defenses. The offensive line is an athletic group of allows the passing game to execute on proper timing. "
— Scouting insider Brian DeLucia

More on the
  • Chiefs' team page
  • Roster | Depth chart
  • Schedule | NFL on FOX schedule
  • NFL fantasy news
  • Don't get too excited: The optimism that surrounds this club assumes that is the same running back that has taken the league by storm the past two seasons. No one can be sure of that at this stage. The hip injury that forced Holmes to miss the final two games of last season and required off-season surgery creates an element of doubt. Holmes has amassed a staggering 4,456 yards and 34 touchdowns in his last 30 games. The averaged nearly 32 points in the 14 games he played last season and 12 points in the two he didn't. If he struggles with injuries this season or doesn't return to form, the Kansas City offense won't be nearly as threatening. Hello, my name is: . Opponents hammered the Kansas City defense on short crossing routes last season because there were no linebackers who had the speed or the experience to make them stop. Barber is an active, aggressive athlete who will make plays from one sideline to the other and is outstanding in coverage, He will start at weakside linebacker. That has freed up last year's starter, , to move to his more natural position inside. Philadelphia hated to lose Barber, but the salary dilemma was the gain. Revolving door: Holliday and McCleon were the team's two other impact acquisitions on defense. Holliday is a strong, solid player and an upgrade over , who started at right end last season. McCleon at his worst would be an improvement over what did for Kansas City as the nickel corner last season. McCleon remains the nickel corner entering the season, but is pushing for one of the starting corner spots. When the biggest loss since the end of last season is a punter (Dan Stryzinski), you know you have been able to keep your nucleus intact. Ones to watch: Kansas City opens with San Diego on Sept. 7. The split the two games last season, outscoring the 58-57. The second game this season is on Nov. 30. Holmes should have a little extra incentive when Kansas City plays Baltimore on Sept. 28 since the let him walk in free agency because they had . The forecast: Only five teams on the Kansas City schedule had a winning record last season. The team's strength of schedule ranks 25th entering the 2003 season. The should end a five-year drought and return to the playoffs. Kansas City could win the division, but it shouldn't be considered the favorite. Veteran NFL correspondent David Moore is a regular contributor to
    Tagged: Bengals, Chiefs, Eagles, Ravens, Chargers, Duane Clemons, Mike Maslowski, William Bartee, Jamal Lewis, Ryan Sims

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