Sports | May 13, 2022 1:56 pm

And the Recipient of the NFL’s Toughest Schedule for the Upcoming Season Is…

The NFL season kicks off with the defending champion LA Rams hosting the Buffalo Bills on September 8

The NFL logo crest is seen on a football during rookie minicamp in May
The NFL logo crest is seen on a football during rookie minicamp in May.
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty

If the Kansas City Chiefs are going to make it to the Super Bowl for the third time in four seasons, they’ve got their work cut out for them.

At least that’s the way it looks right now following the NFL’s release of the full schedule for the upcoming season, which kicks off with the defending champion LA Rams hosting the up-and-coming Buffalo Bills on September 8 on NBC.

One of 13 NFL teams (the 49ers, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Buccaneers, Chargers, Cowboys, Eagles, Packers, Patriots, Rams and Steelers are the others) with five primetime games on tap, the Chiefs have the most difficult regular-season schedule based on the projected over-under win totals of their opponents. Twelve of Kansas City’s 17 opponents have a win total of 9.5 of higher, according to Caesars Sportsbook. Overall, the Chiefs’ opponents have an average win total of 9.12, leaving Kansas City as the only team facing an average win total above 9 in the upcoming season.

A huge reason for that is the Chiefs play in the AFC West, a division that, thanks to the arrival of Russell Wilson in Denver, is now home to four teams with above-average quarterbacks and well-founded playoff aspirations.

In addition to six divisional games against the Broncos, Raiders and Chargers, the Chiefs also will face tough matchups against teams that made the playoffs last season in the Cardinals, Buccaneers, Bills, 49ers, Titans, Rams and Bengals. Throw in a game against the new-and-improved Colts, who now have Matt Ryan at quarterback, and you’re looking at a schedule with 14 difficult matchups and just three “easy” games (Jaguars, Texans and Seahawks).

“This is a difficult schedule,” according to ESPN. “Measuring by opponents’ expected wins, the Chiefs have the toughest schedule in the league, by far. A slow start, as the Chiefs had last year when they began 3-4, won’t cut it this time. The problem with getting out quickly is that the Chiefs open with three of four on the road, including a game at Tampa Bay, and then come home to play the Bills. The Chiefs need to be on point from the start to successfully navigate this stretch.”

Winners of at least 12 games in each of the past four seasons, the Chiefs have an over-under win total of 10.5. In order for the Chiefs to hit the over and give themselves a shot at playing in Super Bowl LVII on February 12 in Glendale, Arizona, Kansas City will have to take care of business in the AFC West and win games against top-tier, yet flawed, opponents like the Cardinals, Titans and 49ers. If Patrick Mahomes stays healthy, they probably will.