The Kansas City Chiefs’ 2020 NFL regular season schedule came out last week. The NFL handed the defending Super Bowl champions the hardest schedule in the league.

The defending champs will play the first-place winners in each division of the AFC. The Chiefs also will play all the teams from the AFC East and NFC South. They will also still play each team in the AFC West twice in a home and away series.

Last year the New England Patriots were the defending Super Bowl champions, but they played one of the easiest schedules because they played in a weak AFC East Division and were lucky to not play a tough NFC division.

Each year is different, but the 2020 Chiefs will have a big hill to climb. The AFC West, won by the Chiefs the past four years will have the much-improved Broncos, Chargers and Raiders. Those teams fared well in the draft and free agency. All three placed an emphasis on speed and offensive punch because they need to be able to score points in order to overthrow the Super Bowl champs.

The Texans, Ravens and Patriots won their AFC Divisions. The Texans have DeShaun Watson, one of the league’s great young quarterbacks. Mahomes vs. Watson in the season opener should be fun to watch.

The Ravens will pose the greatest threat for the Chiefs to win the AFC. Lamar Jackson is the real deal. The Patriots will be interesting to watch without Tom Brady, but coach Bill Belichick will keep them competitive.

The rest of the teams in the AFC East Division will be better than last year. The Bills are exceptionally good on defense and they are really well coached. They will be very tough to beat in Buffalo. The Jets and Dolphins should be two wins for the Chiefs, but both teams will be improved from last year. The team cannot afford to fall asleep on them – just ask the Patriots about their last regular season game in 2019.

The main reason the Chiefs’ 2020 schedule is so difficult is because of the improvement of the NFC South Division. The Saints and Buccaneers from the South along with the 49ers from the Wes are being talked about as the NFC representative team in the Super Bowl. A big problem is that the Chiefs have to play both the Saints and Bucs on the road. Drew Brees has a great crew around him, and he will be hungry for one last Super Bowl run. The Bucs have added Brady and Gronk to a roster that is loaded with offensive fire power along with an incredibly good defensive line.

The Chiefs have to beat the other two NFC South opponents at home in order to make the playoffs. The Falcons and Panthers are looking to improve from the 2019 season. It will be interesting to see how the additions to their 2020 teams will improve their squad’s ability.

To form a projection, you need to need to assess how the Chiefs look in general as a squad. They have strength and an already strong offense with the addition of new players that will add even more speed and depth.

An even more important addition to the team through the draft is the speed on the defense. To win in the 2020 NFL you have to have exceptional team speed. The Chiefs could have several great sprint relay teams with the players they now have on the 2020 team roster.

Two unpredictable factors are always injuries and luck. The 2020 version of the Chiefs will need both again to defend their title. General manager Brett Veach and Andy Reid added great depth, but it will be needed if the team is to be successful.

As far as luck is concerned, you have to stay with what you believe in as a franchise and hope the ball will bounce your way at the right times throughout the year. This schedule is no walk in the park. I would probably pick the Chiefs to go 12-4 in the regular season, and, if healthy, they will make a run for another Super Bowl.

The Chiefs will most likely lose road games to the Ravens, Bills, Saints and one AFC West division team on the road. They should go undefeated at home. Two important must wins for the Chiefs will be the Bucs on the road and the Texans at the home opener. I hope we are able to see this tough schedule played out because it will be entertaining to watch.

• The quote of the week comes from Hall Of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers head coach and four-time Super Bowl champion Chuck Noll: “Some place along your life, you are going to have to function in a pressure situation and if you can learn to do it in a game where the results are not life and death, you can come to a situation where it is life and death and be better able to cope.”

– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at