Sideline Report: What should we expect from this Chiefs team?

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Senior Braden Shaw proves to be the biggest sports fan. Ever.

Braden Shaw, JagWire editor-in-chief

After the seven month wait, football is finally back in full swing. The National Football League kicked off its highly anticipated season last Thursday. I love this time of year because fans of every team believe that “this is their year” and the excitement is tangible.

Even amidst all the enthusiasm and energy surrounding the NFL season, I always come in very wary about the Chiefs. I never know what to expect, even though we’re supposed to have a great squad this season. We have talent on both sides of the ball and had a solid, albeit controversial draft.

I was nervous because of outside linebacker Justin Houston starting the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, safety Eric Berry’s contract dispute and running back Jamaal Charles’ questionable knee injury. I just didn’t know if this team could pull itself together for the season.

If you were watching the Chiefs’ first game against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, you could see how these concerns were justified. With 6:02 left in the third quarter, quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers were dominating the Chiefs, going into halftime up 24-3.

This was not an ideal situation to say the least. The offense was not converting plays and the defense could not pressure Rivers at all, totalling one sack the entire game. But somehow, they woke up to tie the game 27-27 to force the game to go to overtime, eventually winning 33-27. It was the largest second half comeback in franchise history.

Yes, this was an incredible effort from the Chiefs and quarterback Alex Smith. It was amazing to watch the team come up with a comeback very similar to their next door neighbors. But I still have plenty of concerns.

First off, the absence of Houston and the lack of defensive pressure was an issue. Later on in the season the defensive line will need to force opposing quarterbacks into tough throws and get the sacks that this defense is known for. The secondary needs to also have tighter coverage to stop deep plays down the field.

On the other side of the ball, the offense needs to start quicker. Having to dig out of a hole could prove to be troublesome against better teams later in the season. Also, I’m curious if all of the running backs — Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware and Charles — will be able to get enough carries.

The defense, offense and special teams all have plenty of talent. But, this team needs to prove that last year’s run to the playoffs was not a fluke. Obviously, one game shouldn’t determine how a season will go. But the Chiefs have high aspirations to make noise in the postseason. They’ll simply need to be better later on in the season.

I think this team can do great things this season, as is the expectation. They won the franchise’s first playoff game in over 20 years last season and now they need to keep improving. We’ll just have to see as the team continually makes adjustments throughout the season.

Maybe next week they can win without giving us all a heart attack.

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