Roughest portion of Kansas City Chiefs' schedule is at the start

With Alex Smith now in Washington, Patrick Mahomes II gets his chance to start. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The NFL has released its 2018 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Breakdown: New starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes II will be challenged early as the Chiefs begin with their first two and four of their first six games on the road. Among the road opponents in those first six games are the Chargers, Steelers and Patriots. The two home games in that stretch come against the 49ers and the Jaguars. The schedule eases considerably after that, with the Chiefs facing only one playoff team from 2017 over the final 10 games. The Chiefs also get a break by playing three of their final four games at Arrowhead Stadium. They are 8-1 at Arrowhead in December and January in the regular season over the past three years.

A late bye: The Chiefs are undoubtedly pleased with the placement of this season’s bye, for a couple of reasons. First, it comes late, in Week 12, or the last weekend of November. They can get their fill of Thanksgiving turkey while recharging for the season’s stretch run. The Chiefs have what could be three crucial games against AFC West opponents after their bye, including two against the Raiders and one against the Chargers. The bye also comes immediately after their trip to Mexico City for their Week 11 Monday night game against the Rams.

Five prime-time games: The Chiefs, who had six night games in the regular season in 2017, won’t quite match that this season, but they’ll come close. They’ll have five prime-time games, but only one at Arrowhead Stadium. That will be on a Thursday night, Dec. 13, against the Chargers. Otherwise, they’ll play twice on Sunday night on the road (against the Patriots on Oct. 14 and the Seahawks on Dec. 23) and on a Monday night (Oct. 1) against the Broncos in Denver. Their other prime-time appearance will come on Nov. 19, a Monday, against the Rams in Mexico City.

Strength of schedule: T-19th, .492

Chiefs' Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at L.A. Chargers, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, San Francisco, 1 p.m.

  • Week 4: Monday, Oct. 1, at Denver, 8:15 p.m.

  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

  • Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, at New England, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

  • Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, Denver, 1 p.m.

  • Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

  • Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, Arizona, 1 p.m.

  • Week 11: Monday, Nov. 19, vs. L.A. Rams in Mexico City, 8:15 p.m.

  • Week 12: BYE

  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, Baltimore, 1 p.m.

  • Week 15: Thursday, Dec. 13, L.A. Chargers, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at Seattle, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Oakland, 1 p.m.