Kansas City Chiefs

Analyzing the Chiefs’ schedule: Lots of prime-time, and home opener in Week 3 (again)

Ring the bell, sound the alarms, shout it from the rooftops: the NFL regular-season schedule is out.

As it stands now, the Chiefs will be in the prime-time spotlight plenty, with at least three Sunday Night Football games, one Monday night game and one Thursday night game. And there’s always the potential for a game or two — like Week 15 against the Broncos or Week 17 against the Chargers — to be flexed.

The symmetry between this year’s schedule and last year’s is a bit eerie. Like last year, the Chiefs open with back-to-back road games, and three of their first four games are on the road. Last year, the Chiefs won all four.

This year, Kansas City will open in Jacksonville and then travel to Oakland before returning to Arrowhead for a home opener against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3.

With games against all three AFC West opponents, the final month of the regular season will be the Chiefs’ most challenging. Following a Week 12 bye, they’ll play host Oakland, followed by a trip to New England, a home game against the Broncos, a Sunday Night Football tilt with Chicago and a regular-season finale at home against the Chargers.

Week 1: Sept. 8, Chiefs at Jaguars, noon CBS

Prediction: W

So it’s not a Sunday Night Football matchup with the Patriots. On the plus side, there’s no pregame Super Bowl ceremony to sit through before kickoff. But a Week 1 date at Jacksonville isn’t nearly as sexy as an AFC Championship rematch. Even so, there are still some interesting storylines at play here, with KC taking on former Chiefs in Nick Foles and Chris Conley. And Andy Reid opened his Chiefs tenure at Jacksonville in 2013.

Week 2: Sept. 15, Chiefs at Raiders, 3:05 p.m. CBS

Prediction: L

This is really, actually the Chiefs’ last trip to the Oakland Coliseum. With the stadium in Las Vegas not ready yet, the team had to find somewhere to play the 2019 season. After some drama, it landed on another final year in Oakland. With three first-round picks in the upcoming draft and the addition of players like Antonio Brown and Trent Brown, the Raiders should be more competitive this year. With Antonio Brown’s ability to carve up a defense, this will be the first major test for Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.

Week 3: Sept. 22, Chiefs vs. Ravens, noon, CBS

Prediction: W

The Chiefs’ defense will get another serious test when they host the Ravens. Not only will the team have to stop Lamar Jackson, but now, they’ll have the addition of running back Mark Ingram to worry about. Ingram had two 1,000-yard plus rushing seasons in eight years with the Saints.

Week 4: Sept. 29, Chiefs at Lions, noon, FOX

Prediction: W

This game could be an early season trap. Sandwiched between the home opener and a prime-time game against the Colts, it would be easy to overlook a road game in Detroit. The Chiefs still likely have the firepower to get past the Lions, but look for this one to be closer than expected given its location in the schedule.

Week 5: Oct. 6, Chiefs vs. Colts, 7:20, NBC

Prediction: W

The Chiefs smothered the Colts 31-13 the last time these two teams met, giving the Chiefs their first home playoff victory in 25 years. The stakes won’t be nearly as high this time around, but Andrew Luck vs. Patrick Mahomes in prime-time at Arrowhead will still be plenty of fun.

Week 6: Oct. 13, Chiefs vs. Texans, noon, CBS

Prediction: W

Expect lots of Tyrann Mathieu stories this week as the safety goes up against his former team. The Texans’ defense was stingy last year, but how much of a difference will Mathieu being on the other sideline make in this matchup?

Week 7: Oct. 17, Chiefs at Broncos, 7:20, FOX, NFL Network, Amazon Prime, Thursday Night Football

Prediction: L

The last the Chiefs played in Mile High, Mahomes completed a left-handed pass. What will the reigning NFL MVP have up his sleeve this time? The Chiefs will be going up against a Denver team with a real quarterback, in Joe Flacco. And after the draft, the Broncos may have another legit quarterback on the roster, too. A year ago, Mahomes’ magic helped the Chiefs escape a prime-time meeting at Mile High with a victory, but this time, the Broncos know what to expect.

Week 8: Oct. 27, Chiefs vs. Packers, 7:20 p.m., NBC, Sunday Night Football

Prediction: W

Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes in prime-time. And even better? The Chiefs have 10 days to prep for Rodgers and Co. after playing the Broncos in a Thursday night game a week earlier. By Oct. 27, Rodgers and new coach Matt LaFleur should have pretty good rhythm, making this rematch of Super Bowl I a good measuring-stick game for Spagnuolo at the midpoint of the season. These two teams won’t play again in the regular season for four years, making this the best chance for a blockbuster matchup between Mahomes and Rodgers.

Week 9: Nov. 3, Chiefs vs. Vikings, noon, FOX

Prediction: W

The Vikings will have a little extra time to prepare for the Chiefs as they come off a Thursday night game against Washington. But who knows what version of the Vikings the Chiefs will get in this years’ matchup. Last year, the Vikings went 8-7-1 as Kirk Cousins played his first season with Minnesota. This year, the team will have Kevin Stefanski as the offensive coordinator and former Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak on staff to help get everyone in the offense on the same page.

Week 10: Nov. 10, Chiefs at Titans, noon, CBS

Prediction: W

Even as a playoff contender, the Titans just aren’t that exciting. The Chiefs’ playoff meltdown from two seasons ago is old news with so many from that team no longer with the club, so cross that storyline off the list. At least this comes with a trip to Nashville. Eat some hot chicken on game day to spice things up.

Week 11: Nov.18, Chiefs at Chargers, Mexico City, 7:15 p.m. (Monday Night Football)

Prediction: L

The Chiefs will play in Mexico. Probably. As long as there’s not a Shakira concert scheduled any time in the next year, this game should be safe. All jokes aside, this is another major chance for the Chiefs to grow their brand internationally, which is an emphasis for the organization. And this game should be a pretty good one, too. It’s not going to be a blockbuster offensive spectacle like the Chiefs-Rams game last year, but these divisional rivals usually put on a pretty good show. On paper, the Chiefs didn’t have to give up a home game for this year’s international tilt, but considering the sea of red at the StubHub Center in L.A. for last year’s season opener, they are losing something of an advantage gained by playing in front of an overwhelmingly friendly crowd in Los Angeles. Philip Rivers already broke the curse the Chiefs placed on him last year, and he could keep that momentum going in Mexico City.

Week 12: BYE

Week 13: Dec. 1, Chiefs vs. Raiders, noon, CBS

Prediction: W

If the Chiefs drop the Week 2 game to the Raiders, look for this one to be a revenge meeting. This game will set the tone for the crucial stretch through December. This Raiders game is the first of three AFC West matchups in the Chiefs’ final five games of 2019, but by this point in the season, expect the Chiefs to be contenders in the AFC West while the Raiders fall behind.

Week 14: Dec. 8, Chiefs at Patriots, 3:25 p.m., CBS

Prediction: L

This is obviously a rematch of the AFC Championship Game and of Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. Though both teams will look a little different this time around, it’ll be a good chance to see how much of a difference the Chiefs’ new defense can truly make. Right now, the game is tabbed for a national slot at 3:25 p.m. on CBS. Given the recent history between these two teams, this game is poised to be a highlight of the regular season.

Week 15: Dec. 15, Chiefs vs. Broncos, noon, CBS

Prediction: W

The second of two Chiefs AFC West matchups in the month of December, the Broncos game can help get the Chiefs back on track if things derail in Foxborough. The Chiefs could be plenty motivated by an earlier loss to the Broncos, and by this point in the season, figuring out Flacco and the “new” Denver offense should be much easier.

Week 16: Dec. 22, Chiefs at Bears, 7:20 p.m., NBC, Sunday Night Football

Prediction: L

The master vs. the student. Andy Reid will take on his former offensive coordinator in Matt Nagy. We’ll get a brief taste of what that matchup could be like in the third preseason game last year, but because the Bears played in the Hall of Fame game, quarterback Mitch Trubisky just watched from the sideline. This time around, the game will actually mean something. Reid and Nagy leaned on each other after some disappointing postseason losses, texting each other frequently after those season-ending games. They’re both inventive playcallers, and this game has the potential to be a lot of fun as the two mad scientists go at it.

Week 17: Dec. 29, Chiefs vs. Chargers, noon, CBS

Prediction: W

A year ago, the Chargers broke the spell the Chiefs had held over them — Rivers in particular — with a last-minute come-from-behind victory thanks to a big game from wide receiver Mike Williams. Patrick Mahomes, usually so lethal, couldn’t pick up a first down in the final minutes to seal the game. Those things will undoubtedly be on the Chiefs’ minds when the Chargers come back to Arrowhead this year. Look for the Chiefs to avoid another late-season upset at the hands of the Chargers.

Final record: 11-5

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Brooke Pryor covers the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star, where she works to give readers a deeper understanding of the franchise and the NFL through daily stories, game coverage, and player profiles. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C.