The Kansas City Chiefs are just 10 days away from the start of training camp, on the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri.
As the Chiefs schedule indicates, four preseason games and 16 regular season contests await the new Andy Reid-led team, whose goal is to advance to the playoffs and beyond. Six of those regular season games come against AFC West division rivals, the Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers.
While the Chiefs made several offseason transactions, they were not alone. Denver, Oakland and San Diego each made moves, gaining and losing various players, adding even more intrigue to the rivaled matchups in the year ahead. So, with training camps just days away, let's revisit some of the moves made by the Chiefs and how they may counter those made by their AFC West rivals, beginning today with the Denver Broncos.
The Chiefs, led behind new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, have installed a new attack-style version of the 3-4 defense that aims to get more pressure on Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning, who completed 400 of 583 passes for 4,659 yards and 37 TDs, adding three more scores in the playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, during the 2012 season.
Joining the Chiefs from the New York Jets Sutton to try and eliminate scoring opportunities by Manning and the rest of the 2013 opponents is DE Mike DeVito. He adds strength and power up-front and may be asked to compliment the duo of Tyson Jackson and Dontari Poe, as well as the other d-linemen, who will soon have the opportunity to showcase their skills while in pads at training camp.
While the Broncos added free agent WR Wes Welker to join their offense, which averaged 283.4 yards per game in 2012 largely due to WRs Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, the Chiefs countered.
The offseason additions of cornerbacks Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson, both of whom have openly embraced the possible opportunity of shutting down receivers either in press coverage or other schemes, only strengthened the Chiefs secondary.
Among others, the new duo joins Chiefs two-time Pro Bowl S Eric Berry, CB Brandon Flowers and S Kendrick Lewis, all of whom look to limit catches, make picks and pressure the QB.
Long-time San Diego Chargers LB Shaun Phillips joins the Broncos in 2013, as does CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. In 2012, Phillips totaled 50 tackles, 9.5 sacks and forced two fumbles for San Diego.
Rodgers-Cromartie, who in five years has played for the Arizona Cardinals (2008-2010) and the Philadelphia Eagles (2011-2012), finished with 51 tackles and three INTs last season.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs new offense is designed to utilize players like RB Jamaal Charles, WR Dwayne Bowe and others to make plays, causing confusion to Phillips, Rodgers-Cromartie and the rest of the team's defense, leading to more scoring opportunities for new Chiefs QB Alex Smith and company.
The 2013 draft class of the Denver Broncos was highlighted by DT Sylvester Williams and RB Montee Ball.
Williams, the former walk-on at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kansas, who later starred at the University of North Carolina, will be expected to create havoc up-front, while Montee Ball will likely be asked to fill the shoes of former Broncos RB Willis McGahee.
"Interesting, interesting, interesting," said NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said of Ball. "When you play with Peyton Manning, your first priority is pass protection. But he catches the ball better than people think."
For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction; in the case for the Chiefs, linebackers like Derrick Johnson, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali have been preparing all offseason, while also helping their rookie teammates, who collectively want to eliminate potential scoring opportunities by the Broncos and all opposing offenses.
Gone from the 2013 Broncos roster is Pro Bowl LB Elvis Dumervil, who signed with the Baltimore Ravens in the offseason. Dumervil gave the Broncos 11 sacks in 2012 and also added 32 tackles, 22 assists, defended one pass and forced six fumbles.
Joining Dumervil and RB Willis McGahee on the list of players no longer in a Broncos uniform is cornerback Tracy Porter, who stays within the AFC West, joining the Oakland Raiders, a team we'll preview on Wednesday.
While the Denver Broncos made changes to improve in 2013, so did the Kansas City Chiefs, making for another epic pair of games to be added to the storied rivalry between both teams.