Kansas City Chiefs
2009 record: 4-12 (Fourth in AFC West)
Steve WycheMatt Cassel might have more to prove than any QB. He will get help from the ground game, but the Chiefs are still rebuilding.
89.4Matt Cassel's passer rating as a starter for the Patriots in 2008, which is why the Chiefs traded for him. That number dropped to 69.9 last season, so the pressure is on Cassel to perform.
The Chiefs traded for and handsomely paid Cassel to be their franchise quarterback. However, his first-year struggles as their starting quarterback have led to questions about his readiness for the role. Although the addition of Charlie Weis will return Cassel to a familiar offensive system, he must show that he can post solid production without the support of an elite set of receivers.
Dwayne BoweThe fourth-year pro landed in Todd Haley's doghouse last season after numerous issues with his weight and work ethic. While he still retained his spot as the team's No.1 receiver, his production slipped dramatically from his previous two seasons. When locked in and focused, Bowe is a big, physical pass catcher with the skills to dominate on the outside. If he can combine his physical skills with a renewed focus, Bowe is capable of developing into the elite weapon that Haley can use as the centerpiece of the Chiefs' passing game.
Charles is still in chargeThe presence of Thomas Jones does put a cap on the fantasy upside of Jamaal Charles, but he's still the most talented and valuable running back on the Chiefs roster. A fantasy beast in the second half of last season, Charles should remain a productive starting option in 2010.
3 Pivotal Games
Sept. 13 vs. San DiegoThe Chiefs enjoy one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL, and you can be sure the refurbished Arrowhead Stadium will be rocking when they host four-time defending AFC West champion San Diego on Monday night to open the season. A national-television audience will get to see what difference new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel have made.
Sept. 19 at BrownsDo you think the Chiefs' defense will be motivated for this game? Oh yeah. In what will be considered a statement game for Kansas City, Crennel will get a chance to stifle the Browns, who he coached from 2005-08. This could be a low-scoring affair as the Browns finished last in total offense last season, while the Chiefs ranked 30th.
Nov. 21 vs. ArizonaCoach Todd Haley gets to face the team he helped lead to a Super Bowl as offensive coordinator, and former USC backup QB Matt Cassel gets to duel against the player who kept him on the bench while he was in college, Matt Leinart. Both signal callers have something to prove as NFL starters, so it could play out with high drama.