A look at five crucial games for the Kansas City Chiefs, ones capable of turning their season for better or for worse:
1. Sept. 29 vs. New England: This is the first Monday night game at Arrowhead Stadium in three years, so Chiefs fans should be primed for this one. The Chiefs will need them in rare form, too. This is the only home appearance for the Chiefs among a five-game early season stretch, so it’s easy to picture the Chiefs at below .500 at midseason if they don’t win this one. This is a rare appearance for Tom Brady and the Patriots in Kansas City. They haven’t been at Arrowhead since 2005.
2. Oct. 19 at San Diego: This is the final game of that stretch with four of five on the road, and it’s important to finish a difficult streak by putting a bow on it. By beating the Patriots and winning here, the season’s possibilities would open up to the Chiefs. They are coming off their bye, so they should be in decent position to come home with their first win in San Diego since 2007, when they were coached by Herm Edwards.
3. Nov. 9 at Buffalo: Though the Bills don’t have the look of a playoff contender now, this game still looms as important for the Chiefs. If their schedule has anything resembling a soft spot, it’s a midseason stretch that includes home games against the St. Louis Rams and New York Jets, and this road game against the Bills. The Chiefs were horrible last regular season against teams that eventually made the playoffs (1-5), but they still reached the postseason because of their 10-0 record against also-rans like the Bills.
4. Nov. 20 at Oakland: The Raiders should be better than they were last season, but given the difficulty of the Chiefs’ schedule, it’s hard to see how they can make the playoffs without sweeping Oakland for the second straight season. Regardless of how well the Raiders are playing, this will be a difficult assignment for the Chiefs. They have a Nov. 16 home game against the Seattle Seahawks and then have the long flight to the west coast for a Thursday night game in the Black Hole. The rematch is on Dec. 14 in Kansas City, and the Chiefs need to finish the job then.
5. Nov. 30 vs. Denver: To win the AFC West, this is a must-win game for the Chiefs. They haven’t beaten the Broncos since Peyton Manning arrived as their quarterback. They might never get another chance this good. The game is scheduled for a Sunday night, so unless it’s flexed, Chiefs fans should again be primed for something they haven’t seen since 2004, and that’s for their team to beat Manning.