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Matt Cassel, Chiefs' offense shoulder playoff hopes

"NFL Total Access" continues with its "32 teams in 32 days" series. We decided to score some brownie points by writing an accompanying post each night. We'll focus on one goal that each team needs to accomplish before Week 1.

Chiefs can't afford slow start on offense

Can you believe we're already in Year 4 of the Matt Cassel Era in Kansas City?

It seems like just yesterday Charlie Weis was grinning ear-to-ear after landing Tom Brady's backup. Weis is long gone, while Cassel has sandwiched one good season between two forgettable campaigns at Arrowhead.

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In a league not known for patience, it's certainly possible the Chiefs will explore their options if Cassel can't get the team back into playoff contention in 2012.

The Chiefs' offense also hinges on Brian Daboll, who was hired this offseason to replace the retired Bill Muir as offensive coordinator. Daboll earned Crennel's respect during their time with the New England Patriots, but Daboll doesn't come to Kansas City with a killer resume running NFL offenses. The Dolphins ranked 22nd in the league in 2011, while his two seasons in Cleveland ended with rankings of 29th (2010) and dead last (2009).

Of course, Daboll has more talent to work with these days, inheriting an offense that includes wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, running back Jamaal Charles and emerging tight end Tony Moeaki.

Both Charles and Moeaki are coming back from serious knee injuries, but the Chiefs can't hope for 10 wins until their top performers get all the way back. The Chiefs have the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers on the schedule in the first month of the regular season, four teams capable of turning games into a shootout.

If the Chiefs can't match the firepower, it could be a long season for Romeo Crennel, a man who already has history working against him.

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