The NFL must believe the Kansas City Chiefs are going to be the next big thing.
When the 2017 schedule was released on Thursday, the Chiefs landed six prime-time TV spots, including the kickoff to the season when they play at the World Champion New England Patriots on Sept. 7.
That game is a harbinger of things to come. The Chiefs’ reward for winning the AFC West is the first-place schedule that goes along with it the following year and it’s apparent that reaching 12-4 again this season is nothing more than a mirage.
Of course, the Chiefs are housed in one of pro football’s most competitive divisions with rapidly improving Oakland, perennial championship contender Denver and the now Los Angeles Chargers. As always, the Chiefs play home-and-home with those teams.
The Chiefs have drawn the potent NFC East this year, meaning they’ll have games with Dallas, Philadelphia, New York’s Giants and Washington.
Other games are against Houston, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New York’s Jets and Miami.
Here’s the schedule and a summary:
• Sept. 7 — at New England. No way the defending champs begin the season with a loss at home on prime-time. (0-1)
• Sept. 17 — Philadelphia. Ten days between games and playing at home before their rabid fans. Sounds like a winning combination. (1-1)
• Sept. 24 — at Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers are in an overhaul and the Chiefs need to take advantage. (2-1).
• Oct. 2 — Washington. The Redskins are probably the best bet for the Chiefs against the NFC East. (3-1).
• Oct. 8 — at Houston. Short week and a tough defense for the Texans. Houston needs a quarterback though. (4-1)
• Oct. 15 — Pittsburgh. I know the Chiefs are at home, but the Steelers have been a thorn in their side for years. (4-2).
• Oct. 19 — at Oakland. A very short week and long trip to the West Coast. A very bad combination (4-3).
• Oct. 30 — Denver. Their second long break of the year. The batteries should be recharged and Denver is starting to decay. (5-3).
• Nov. 5 — at Dallas. It will be a long day for the Kansas City defense, which will be strafed by Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott (5-4).
• Nov. 12 — Much needed bye week.
• Nov. 19 — at New York Giants. Never easy to win in the Meadowlands. Andy Reid is historically great after the bye week, but maybe not this time. (5-5).
• Nov. 26 — Buffalo. The Bills have given the Chiefs a hard time in the past, but Reid’s teams always peak down the home stretch (6-5).
• Dec. 3 — at New York Jets. The Jets could be one of the worst teams in football. (7-5).
• Dec. 10 — Oakland. The warm-weather Raiders don’t like December games in Kansas City (8-5).
• Dec. 16 — Los Angeles Chargers. See the above. (9-5).
• Dec. 24 — Miami. Third straight home game against a team from the sunny climes. (10-5).
• Dec. 31 — at Denver. The Chiefs almost never sweep Denver (10-6).