When you finish 2-14 and you are stuck in flyover country, you are never going to see many breaks when it comes to scheduling in the NFL.
LIONS CLAIM WILL FRANKLIN/DETAILS AFTER THE JUMP
That’s certainly the case for the Chiefs as they hit the field this fall for the first year of Pioli/Haley Era.
When you are struggling team, all games are tough ones. But no matter how you slice this schedule cheese, the Chiefs got handed some smelly slices.
Take their season opener. Rather than allow them to begin at home, the league sent them on the road, to face a Ravens team in Baltimore that reached the AFC Championship Game last year. There was the perfect matchup available for that game either home or road, against the Denver Broncos.
In the 50th season of the American Football League, the league should have honored the memory of the league’s founder Lamar Hunt with a home game against one of the original eight. That could have been Denver. It would have made all the sense in the world. And the Broncos were available; instead they will travel to Cincinnati to open the season.
Here’s another reason that Broncos-Chiefs opener would have been great theater: Matt Cassel. Why shouldn’t Denver’s new head coach Josh McDaniels start his career trying to stop the quarterback he wanted so badly and who led to the divorce with Jay Cutler.
See, that matchup would have been a natural, but when the guys and computers in the league office never considered it because the Chiefs aren’t good enough on the field, or powerful enough in league circles to catch a break.
If you want another example of that fact just check what the league handed the Chiefs in the weeks after their home opener against Oakland. They face Philadelphia, the New York Giants, Dallas, Washington and San Diego in consecutive weeks. That’s three teams that made the playoffs last year. That’s four teams from the NFC East, last year’s second best division; none of those teams had a losing record in ’08.
If the ’09 Chiefs are still in one piece by their bye week, the pressure comes off a little bit as they have only one game in their final nine against a team that had winning record last year: the Pittsburgh Steelers. But by then, the damage will likely be significant.
The Chiefs needed all the help they could possibly get to sell tickets this year. Having the Giants and Cowboys early was good. But they also got stuck with a three-game homestand in December against Denver, Buffalo and Cleveland. There will be plenty of tickets available for those three games.
Then, they get to finish up with two cold-weather games on the road in Cincinnati and Denver.
Overall, the 13 opponents the Chiefs will face this season had a .484 winning percentage during the 2008 season. That ranks 17th among the 32 NFL teams. The toughest strength of schedule belongs to Miami, with a .594 winning percentage and the easiest is Chicago with a .414 winning percentage.
The Chiefs face five teams that had a winning record last year (Pittsburgh, Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia and Baltimore.)
They have 10 games against teams that finished the year at .500 or better (the above five, plus San Diego and Denver twice.)
And they have six games against teams that finished ’08 with a losing record (Oakland twice, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Buffalo.)
Some other notes and quotes worth mentioning about the Chiefs schedule:
- When the Chiefs play the Broncos on January 3 and the Chargers on November 29, those will be the 100th meetings with the Chiefs (regular and post-season).
- The Cowboys visit to Arrowhead On October 11 will be their third, joining trips in 1989 and 1998. The Chiefs won both of those games.
- On September 27, the Chiefs will make only their second trip to Philadelphia in the 40 seasons the teams have shared residence in the NFL. The only previous time they played in the City of Brotherly Love was 1998, when they beat the Eagles 24-21. Thus, it will be their first visit to Lincoln Financial Field. That will leave the new Dallas stadium as the only current NFL stadium the Chiefs have not played in.
- The game on October 18 will be only the second Chiefs visit to Washington in the last 26 seasons. They were there in 2001, when they beat the Redskins, coached by Marty Schottenheimer, 45-13.
- They will make their first visit to Jacksonville in five years on November 8. The Chiefs have played there four times and they are 1-3.
- On November 22, the Steelers arrive in Kansas City for the first time since 2003. This will be the sixth season after a Pittsburgh triumph in the Super Bowl that the Chiefs have faced the defending champions. In five previous games, the Steelers are 5-0, winning by an average of 28 points.
And, not surprisingly the Chiefs were shutout of Sunday and Monday night football games. They have not played a Monday night game since September 26, 2005, when they lost at Denver. They’ve not hosted a Monday night game at Arrowhead since November 11, 2004, when they lost to New England.
By the end of the ’09 season, the Chiefs will have gone 49 games since they played under the lights. The last time it happened was on December 23, 2006 when they played the Raiders in Oakland in an NFL Network game. They haven’t played a night game at home since the Thanksgiving Night game in 2006 against Denver.
FRANKLIN DRAWS INTEREST ON WAIVER WIRE
Less than 24 hours after he was released by the Chiefs, WR Will Franklin has a new home. He was claimed on waivers by the Detroit Lions.
In fact, five different teams put in a claim on Franklin. The Lions, due to their 0-16 season last year, still get first rights on all waiver claims and they scooped him up.
Although Pioli/Haley have not had anything to say about the move with Franklin, word is the Chiefs were unhappy that Franklin showed up for the off-season program out-of-shape and overweight. Thus, his departure may have been a warning shot or an example for others as to what happens if you aren’t dedicated to the program.
FROM THE LAND OF JURISPRUDENCE
Former Broncos RB Travis Henry apparently has reached a plea bargain agreement with Montana prosecutors and he will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute. Henry is expected to appear in court on Thursday and he reportedly is facing a mandatory 10 years in prison as well as $4 million fine.
According to FOXSports.com, former Baltimore safety Daren Stone has been suspended by the NFL for four games. Why he’s being punished is not known. He played last season for both Dallas and Baltimore, including spending the post-season with the Ravens. Stone was released in the off-season and is not currently under contract to any team.
SIGNINGS AND MOVEMENT IN THE NFL
STEELERS – re-signed QB Charlie Batch.
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on April 15, 1960 in Oakland was LB Ken McAlister. He spent four years with the Chiefs, playing in three seasons (1984, 1986-87), appearing in a total of 19 games, with 11 starts. He had two interceptions during the 1984 season, when he was the Chiefs starting left outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense.
Born on April 15, 1972 in Cincinnati was S Melvin Johnson. He played four seasons in the NFL, including his last season in 1998 with the Chiefs. Johnson joined the club in a trade with Tampa Bay, as the Chiefs gave up a sixth-round draft choice. He played in seven games, with one start in that ’98 season.