(update — yes, we handed out two Nos. 27; that’s been corrected to reflect that the Chiefs are actually 26th)
26. Kansas City Chiefs
Coach: Todd Haley (first year)
Last year: 2-14 (Herm Edwards and long-time grand pooh-bah Carl Peterson were fired).
NFL rankings: Offense - 24th in yards, 26th in scoring; defense - 31st in yards; 29th in points.
Additions: Haley, general manager Scott Pioli, QB Matt Cassel, LB Mike Vrabel, WR Bobby Engram, OL Mike Goff, LB Zach Thomas and draft pick DL Tyson Jackson.
Substractions: TE Tony Gonzalez, QB Damon Huard, LB Donnie Edwards, CB Patrick Surtain.
Overview: Ownership’s decision to cut ties with Peterson was long overdue but King Carl’s mistakes the last few years equals a massive rebuilding project for Pioli, formerly the Patriots’ front office chief. Cassel was a good first step and the Chiefs should be able to produce offensively with Cassel, RB Larry Johnson and WR Dwayne Bowe. On defense, KC is shifting to a combo 4-3/3-4 and they drafted defense in the first two rounds. The Chiefs’ 10 sacks last year were worst all-time in a 16-game season and it will be tough for KC to be competitive defensively.
Fantasy pick: WR Dwayne Bowe should benefit the most from Cassel’s arrival and Gonzalez’s departure. Bowe caught 86 passes for 1,022 yards and seven TDs last year … and each number ranked second behind Gonzalez. Bowe is in for a huge year.
Offense: QB Matt Cassel, FB Mike Cox, RB Larry Johnson, WR Mark Bradley, WR Dwayne Bowe, TE Brad Cottam, LT Branden Albert, LG Brian Waters, C Rudy Niswanger, RG Mike Goff, RT Damion McIntosh.
Defense: LE Tyson Jackson, NT Glenn Dorsey, RE Alfonso Boone, OLB Mike Vrabel, ILB Derrick Johnson, ILB Zach Thomas, OLB Tamba Hall, CB Brandon Flowers, CB Brandon Carr, SS Bernard Pollard, FS Jarrad Page.
Specialists: K Connor Barth, P Dustin Colquitt, PR/KR Quinten Lawrence.
Projected record: 5-11 (third in AFC West). The Chiefs will take a step forward this year but this is still a multi-year project. KC’s first four games include road trips to Philadelphia and Baltimore plus a home game against the Giants. The Chiefs will be able to finish strong with three straight December home games.