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Online Chiefs Lines & Predictions - Kansas City Future Odds - Free NFL Betting Previews

2006 Kansas City Chiefs Season Preview

2006 Chiefs NFL News - August 31st, 2006
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2006 NFL Previews - By Tony Moss, NFL Editor

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Larry Johnson was making up for lost time. After sitting behind Priest Holmes for roughly two-and-a-half years, the Kansas City Chiefs running back knew that what he wanted to achieve in the NFL wasn't going to be possible if he didn't get moving. And move he did.

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Johnson, the former first-round pick out of Penn State, ended up with 1,750 yards and 21 touchdowns, both AFC highs, despite starting just over half the season. He rushed for 100 yards nine times in nine starts, going over 200 twice. He scored at least two touchdowns in seven of those starts. He made the Pro Bowl, and rendered Holmes, the Chiefs' all-time leading rusher, expendable seemingly overnight.

Now, Johnson will be working under a head coach, Herman Edwards, who actually likes him, and there's no telling what can happen.

Barry Sanders' streak of 14 consecutive 100-yard games is well within reach, but the determined Johnson is unlikely to stop there. If he maintains the 135.6 yards per game average that he has over his first 12 NFL starts (including three at the end of the 2004 season) during the 2006 campaign, he'll end up with roughly 2,170 yards, which will break Eric Dickerson's mark of 2,105, set in 1984.

That type of pace would lead him to break Emmitt Smith's all-time rushing record some time before his 34th birthday (though LaDainian Tomlinson will surely have something to say about that record as well). And Johnson's no Barry Sanders - he wants marks like that one.

Touchdowns? Watch out Shaun Alexander and Jerry Rice. Johnson is averaging 1.83 touchdowns per start, and if he continues that pace over a full season, he'll end up with 29 scores, eclipsing Alexander's year-old record of 28. If he somehow manages to keep up that frenetic scoring pace for the next six seasons, Rice's NFL record of 208 touchdowns will be history.

Crunching those numbers is exciting, but Edwards and the Chiefs' rabid group of supporters will be more impressed if the statistics are attached to a couple of Super Bowl titles. Regardless of his pursuit of any records, the 26- year-old Johnson figures to be at the heart of the Super Bowl effort for at least the next five years. And ultimately, it is the Lombardi Trophy, not numbers or milestones, that Johnson will be running toward.

Below we take a capsule look at the 2006 edition of the Kansas City Chiefs, with a personnel evaluation and prognosis included therein:

2005 RECORD: 10-6 (2nd, AFC West)

LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2003, lost to Indianapolis, 38-31, in AFC Divisional Playoff

COACH (RECORD): Herm Edwards (first season with Chiefs, 39-41 overall)



OFFENSIVE STAR: Larry Johnson, RB (1750 rushing yards, 33 receptions, 21 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Derrick Johnson, LB (95 tackles, 2 sacks)

OFFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 4th rushing, 6th passing, 6th scoring

DEFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 7th rushing, 30th passing, 16th scoring

FIVE KEY GAMES: Cincinnati (9/10), at Denver (9/17), at Pittsburgh (10/15), Oakland (11/19), at San Diego (12/17)

KEY ADDITIONS: QB Casey Printers (from CFL B.C. Lions), QB Brodie Croyle (3rd Round, Alabama), RB Quentin Griffin (from Broncos), T Kyle Turley (from Rams), DE Tamba Hali (1st Round, Penn State), DT James Reed (from Jets), DT Ron Edwards (from Bills), CB Chris Johnson (from Rams), CB Lenny Walls (from Broncos), S Bernard Pollard (2nd Round, Purdue)

KEY DEPARTURES: QB Todd Collins (to Redskins), FB Tony Richardson (to Vikings), WR Chris Horn (not tendered), WR Marc Boerigter (to Packers), T Willie Roaf (retired), T John Welbourn (retired), LB Shawn Barber (released), LB/DE Gary Stills (released), CB Dexter McCleon (released), CB Eric Warfield (released)

QB: Back for a sixth season in Kansas City is Trent Green (4014 passing yards, 17 TD, 10 INT), who is 36 years of age but has never missed a start since coming to the franchise via trade from the Rams in 2001. Green went over the 4,000-yard mark for the third straight year in 2005, and his 90.1 passer rating marked the fourth consecutive season he has finished at 90-plus. The team made a possible statement about its future at the position when it used a third-round draft pick on Brodie Croyle (Alabama), who is undersized at 6-2, 206, but like Green, is seen as a good decision-maker. The third quarterback (who will likely be No. 2 on the depth chart ahead of Croyle) will be Damon Huard, who is 33 and hasn't completed an NFL pass since the 2000 season.

RB: It was hard to recall a more dominant stretch by an NFL running back than the one Larry Johnson (1750 rushing yards, 33 receptions, 21 TD) posted last season, as the former Penn State star and 2003 first-round draft pick rushed for an astounding 1,351 yards and scored 17 touchdowns over his final nine games. Johnson's play made the team forget all about Priest Holmes (451 rushing yards, 21 receptions, 7 TD), whose career is likely over due to a neck injury sustained last season. Spelling Johnson will probably be Michael Bennett (473 rushing yards, 27 receptions, 5 TD with Minnesota), a former 1,000-yard rusher with the Vikings who has been bothered by myriad injuries in recent seasons. Dee Brown (21 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 1 TD) will probably be the third running back. At fullback, the Chiefs are counting on Ronnie Cruz (1 reception) to fill the void left by the trusty Tony Richardson (9 receptions, 1 TD). If the team keeps two fullbacks, J.R. Niklos, who is with his fourth organization (Seahawks, Rams, Raiders) but has never played in a regular season game, will make the team.

WR/TE: Green has continued to put up huge numbers despite the lack of a top- notch group of wide receivers, and Edwards and the coaching staff are hoping that trend holds in 2006. Eddie Kennison (68 receptions, 5 TD) has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in the past two seasons, but is 33 and is effectively a possession receiver at this stage of his career. Samie Parker (36 receptions, 3 TD) is a former fourth-round pick with good speed, but probably wouldn't be a starter on most NFL teams. The No. 3 receiver is Dante Hall (34 receptions, 3 TD), a gifted kick returner who has never shown much consistency as a wideout. Also figuring to make the team are sixth-round draft choice Jeff Webb (San Diego State), undrafted rookie Chris Hannon (Tennessee), and 2004 sixth-round pick Jeris McIntyre, who has been on the team's practice squad for the last two seasons. As usual, tight end Tony Gonzales (78 receptions, 2 TD) will be the team's primary pass-catcher, with Jason Dunn (5 receptions) and Kris Wilson (3 receptions) serving as blockers and providing depth at the position.

OL: The Chiefs took a major hit when both of its projected starting tackles for 2006, Willie Roaf and John Welbourn, retired unexpectedly in the offseason. Roaf and Welbourn were seen as major components in Kansas City's ability to run the football, and their replacements, Kyle Turley on the left side and Kevin Sampson on the right, are far less of a sure thing. Turley has not played since 2003 due to back problems, while Sampson is a 2004 seventh- round pick who has started a grand total of one game in two seasons. The rest of the trench unit is stable, with center Casey Wiegmann, left guard Brian Waters, and right guard Will Shields all returning. If Turley and Sampson fail to hold up on the line, Jordan Black, who can also play guard, will likely be the next man in. Others looking to win reserve jobs are holdovers Chris Bober, Johnathan Ingram, and Will Svitek, along with sixth-round draft choice Tre' Stallings (Ole Miss).

DL: Kansas City is as deep in this area as at any other on the team, having bolstered the unit with the addition of end Tamba Hali (1st Round, Penn State) and tackles Ron Edwards (6 tackles with the Bills) and James Reed (65 tackles, 2 sacks with the Jets) in the offseason. All three of the newcomers are slated to start, with promising young end Jared Allen (55 tackles, 11 sacks) the lone starting holdover up front. No fewer than six players who started games for Kansas City last season were competing for backup jobs during training camp, and one or two were destined to be cut. Ends Eric Hicks (43 tackles, 4 sacks), John Browning (34 tackles, 2 sacks), and Carlos Hall (13 tackles, 1 sack) were all attempting to impress Edwards and the new regime, as were tackles Jimmy Wilkerson (22 tackles), Ryan Sims (8 tackles), and Lional Dalton (18 tackles, 1 sack).

LB: After years of being mostly punchless at the linebacker position, the Chiefs finally found a solid group of starters last season. Middle linebacker Kawika Mitchell (105 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT) and strong side man Derrick Johnson (95 tackles, 2 sacks) were often great in 2005, and weak side linebacker Kendrell Bell (41 tackles, 1.5 sacks) was not the force that he once was with the Steelers but made some plays. There is not great depth at the position, though Rich Scanlon (26 tackles), Keyaron Fox (3 tackles), and Boomer Grigsby (15 tackles) all have some experience.

DB: Edwards, a formerly well-regarded NFL defensive back in his own right, will have to work wonders with this long-underachieving unit. The Chiefs have a couple of big names in Patrick Surtain (57 tackles, 4 INT) and Ty Law (62 tackles, 10 INT with the Jets) at corner, though both are now in their 30s and on the down side of their careers. Holdover Benny Sapp (41 tackles, 2.5 sacks), ex-Bronco Lenny Walls (16 tackles with Denver), and fifth-round draft choice Marcus Maxey (Miami (FL)) are in line to provide depth. Returning at the free safety and strong safety spots are Greg Wesley (82 tackles, 6 INT) and Sammy Knight (89 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INT), respectively, and both will be counted on to continue their frequent playmaking. Two rookies, Bernard Pollard (2nd Round, Purdue) and Jarrad Page (7th Round, UCLA), were considered the top safety backups as the preseason neared its conclusion.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Chiefs have zero turnover on special teams. Punter Dustin Colquitt (39.4 avg.) and kicker Lawrence Tynes (27-33 FG) are both back, as are return man Dante Hall (24.0 kickoff return avg., 1 TD, 6.6 punt return avg.) and long-snapper Kendall Gammon.

PROGNOSIS: Can Edwards accomplish what Dick Vermeil could not, leading the Chiefs to a playoff win, or better, a trip to the Super Bowl? If that's the goal, then he'd better hop to it, because the clock is ticking. This team is aging at quarterback, receiver, on the o-line, and in the secondary, all areas in which seamless transitions with new personnel are very difficult to make. Edwards' window to make a Super Bowl run is probably two years at the most, and there is differing opinion on whether a team that has fallen short of the postseason in the last two seasons should be a part of the Super Bowl discussion to begin with. If the o-line can block in the absence of Welbourn and Roaf, and if the changes on defense take hold immediately, the Chiefs have a shot to come out of a deep AFC West. But if Kansas City fails to immediately find its identity under Edwards, the team could find itself trampled over by the likes of the Broncos, Chargers, or even the Raiders, in turn extending the misery of long-suffering Chiefs supporters.

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