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NFL Kansas City Chiefs

Predicting the Kansas City Chiefs’ Starters of 2014

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Predicting the Kansas City Chiefs' Starters of 2014

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The Kansas City Chiefs were one of the best stories in the NFL last year, going from the worst team in the league in 2012 to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth in 2013. However, that story ended badly as the Chiefs suffered one of the biggest collapses in NFL history when they lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round. As Kansas City looks towards this season, here’s what the team’s opening day starting lineup could look like.

1. QB: Alex Smith

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1. QB: Alex Smith

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While he will never put up Peyton Manning or Drew Brees-type numbers, Alex Smith proved last year that he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Smith is the very definition of a game manager, a QB with an excellent running game and dominating defense behind him. He is not asked to win many games, but rather to avoid losing them.

2. RB: Jamaal Charles

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2. RB: Jamaal Charles

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Charles established himself as one of the best running backs in the league in 2013, accounting for almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage and scoring a league-leading 19 touchdowns. Charles will once again be the focal point of coach Andy Reid’s offense, and he should put up excellent numbers once again.

3. WR: Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery

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3. WR: Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery

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Kansas City didn’t get very good play from their wideouts in 2013. Bowe put up big numbers in the playoff game but never reached 100 yards in a game in the regular season. Avery has shown flashes, and would be a good No. 3 or No. 4 option, but is under qualified as a No. 2 wide receiver. The Chiefs will need someone to step up and alleviate some of the burden placed on Jamaal Charles.

4. TE: Travis Kelce, Anthony Fasano

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4. TE: Travis Kelce, Anthony Fasano

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The Chiefs got very little from their tight ends last year, partly due to a rash of injuries at the position. Fasano missed half the season to injury and wasn’t particularly productive when he did play. Kelce, a third-round pick in 2013, was injured in September and never returned. Andy Reid likes using tight ends, so either Kelce or Fasano must produce in 2014.

5. OT: Eric Fisher (LT), Donald Stephenson (RT)

Eric Fisher Kansas City Chiefs
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5. OT: Eric Fisher (LT), Donald Stephenson (RT)

Eric Fisher Kansas City Chiefs
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Fisher, the first overall pick last year, struggled early on but began to find his footing later in the year. With Branden Albert gone, Fisher will now move across the line to left tackle. Taking Fisher’s place at right tackle will be Stephenson, who showed some versatility in his second year, playing on both sides of the line.

6. G: Jeff Allen (LG), Jeff Linkenbach (RG)

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6. G: Jeff Allen (LG), Jeff Linkenbach (RG)

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Despite producing a 1,000-yard rusher in Charles, Kansas City's guards did not play well last season. Both Allen and Jon Asamoah were poor in pass protection, and Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz left this offseason. Linkenbach comes over from Indianapolis, where he had a good year despite battling injuries.

7. C: Rodney Hudson

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7. C: Rodney Hudson

Rodney Hudson Kansas City Chiefs
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Hudson finally showed some promise last year, a good sign for the former second-round pick. Hudson played in every game in 2013, starting in all but one, and served as the anchor on Kansas City’s line throughout their bounce-back season. He will look to serve as that anchor once again in 2014.

8. DE: Mike DeVito (RE), Vance Walker (LE)

Mike DeVito Kansas City Chiefs
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8. DE: Mike DeVito (RE), Vance Walker (LE)

Mike DeVito Kansas City Chiefs
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DeVito was not much of a factor in the pass rush last year, but he was very solid against the run. Tyson Jackson is gone, so Walker, a pickup from the Oakland Raiders, will likely step into his place. Walker was a solid rotational player for Oakland, where he mainly played DT. In the Chiefs’ 3-4 defense he will fit in well as a larger DE.

9. NT: Dontari Poe

Dontari Poe Kansas City Chiefs
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9. NT: Dontari Poe

Dontari Poe Kansas City Chiefs
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One of the reasons for the Chiefs’ dramatic improvement in 2013 was the breakout season they got from Dontari Poe. Selected to his first Pro Bowl after recording 4.5 sacks last year, Poe was one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the league. However, he seemed gassed by the end of the year, so a full season of dominance is the expectation in 2014.

10. OLB: Tamba Hali (Will), Justin Houston (Sam)

Tamba Hali Kansas City Chiefs
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10. OLB: Tamba Hali (Will), Justin Houston (Sam)

Tamba Hali Kansas City Chiefs
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Hali and Houston form arguably one of the best pairs of OLB’s in the NFL. Hali was named to his third straight Pro Bowl after recording 11 sacks, and is one of the best Will linebackers in football. Houston was perhaps even more impressive, recording the same number of sacks but in just 11 games as he suffered a dislocated elbow. A full season from both would be huge for the Chiefs.

11. MLB: Derrick Johnson (WILB), Joe Mays (SILB)

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11. MLB: Derrick Johnson (WILB), Joe Mays (SILB)

Derrick Johnson Kansas City Chiefs
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Johnson once again led the Chiefs in tackles in 2013 to go along with 4.5 sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Johnson was also selected to his third straight Pro Bowl. Mays had a solid season in Houston last year and will likely challenge Akeem Jordan for the spot opposite Johnson.

12. CB: Sean Smith, Brandon Flowers

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12. CB: Sean Smith, Brandon Flowers

Brandon Flowers Kansas City Chiefs
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Much like the rest of the team, the play of Kansas City’s cornerbacks tailed off as the year progressed, culminating in their evisceration by Andrew Luck in the playoffs. Smith in particular struggled at the end of the season. Flowers was selected to the Pro Bowl but can certainly improve his play.

13. FS: Husain Abdullah

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13. FS: Husain Abdullah

Husain Abdullah Kansas City Chiefs
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Kendrick Lewis was responsible for giving up several big plays last season, and it is unlikely he will start this season. Abdullah played well in the Chiefs’ dime packages last season. He will be asked to shore up some of the holes Kansas City has in its secondary.

14. SS: Eric Berry

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14. SS: Eric Berry

Eric Berry Kansas City Chiefs
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Berry continues to be one of the best playmaking safeties in the NFL, as he was named to both the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro team last year. Berry recorded 73 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, and also scored two touchdowns. Berry is yet another Chiefs defender who will look to rack up more personal accolades.

15. Special Teams

Ryan Succop Kansas City Chiefs
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15. Special Teams

Ryan Succop Kansas City Chiefs
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The Chiefs got very good play from their special teams units in 2013, another reason for their big turnaround. Kicker Ryan Succop went a respectable 22-for-28 on field goal attempts, and was even more effective on kickoffs. Despite having one punt blocked, Dustin Colquitt was solid, averaging 46.0 yards per punt.