The Kansas City Chiefs can’t beat the Denver Broncos, but they’re still in line for a Wild Card Playoff spot. Now that the team that started 9-0 is on a 3 game skid, do you think they can win a playoff game?
First, they need to get there.
If the season ended today the Ravens (6-6) would be the other Wild Card team. The Chiefs would face the AFC North champion Bengals. Kansas City must win two of their last four games (Redskins, @Raiders, Colts, @Chargers) to make the post-season for sure. If both Baltimore and Miami (6-6) can win their last four games and KC wins only one of four, they’d lose out based on their record in the division. All three of the Chiefs’ losses are to AFC West opponents.
So barring a complete collapse, the Chiefs would likely face either Cincinnati or Indianapolis. Either way, they must solve a few problems if they hope to see the Divisional Round.
They started the year with 36 sacks in 8 games. Now they have 1 in 4, including none against Peyton Manning. Tamba Hali returned from a sprained ankle this week to record 2 tackles, but Justin Houston will miss another week or two with a dislocated elbow. Eric Berry needs to be cut loose as a blitzer. Marcus Cooper needs to tighten up his coverage and stop getting burned so rushers can have time to reach the passer.
Someone Catch the Ball
Even if Dwayne Bowe was earning his money, someone else would need to step up as a playmaker. Donnie Avery dropped a couple of big passes this week. Anthony Fasano has been a good red-zone producer, but isn’t built to stretch the field. He has a touchdown with fewer than forty yards in each of the three losses. Dexter McCluster has big-play ability but has not been given enough chances.
Alex Smith has been more aggressive than people like to say. It’s not that he hasn’t been throwing the ball downfield. His receivers haven’t been catching it.
Jamal Charles can’t continue to gain over a third of the team’s total yards. It’s too easy to defend no matter how good he is. Someone needs to break the game open: Knile Davis, Junior Hemingway or AJ Jenkins.
Keep the Score Low
The Chiefs aren’t made to play from behind. They are at their best running the ball and playing containment defense. They need to bend and not break while slowing the game down. The deep pass has been hurting them. They must take a step back defensively and keep plays in front of them.
Time of possession needs to be dramatically on their side. In the three losses, the split was pretty even. Alex Smith needs to build long drives and treat every possession like he’s trying to run out the clock. Keep the enemy quarterback on the bench, whether it’s Peyton Manning of Jeff Tuel.
But Seriously, Can They Make It?
The Chargers already beat them. Andrew Luck is at least the third best quarterback the Chiefs will face all year. He could pick them apart like Manning and Phillip Rivers did. If RG3 can put together a complete game that looks like his first drive against the Giants this week, Kansas City is in trouble.
Facing either the Colts or Andy Dalton, AJ Green and the Bengals, I think they have problems. Both offenses are explosive. Yes, Indy is being sloppy right now but Luck is too smart for that to continue. If he sees KC for a second time in the playoffs, I believe he figures them out.
It’s time for the defense to look like it did during the first 9 games. Jamal Charles needs to be twice the super-hero. Dwayne Bowe needs to earn his paycheck. If he can finish strong, fans might forget about his 45 catches, 533 yards, 4 touchdowns and $56 million contract.
David Klenda, also known as Eighty Six, is Division Leader for the NFC West and AFC West. Find him at Eighty Six the Poet or on Twitter as 86ThePoet. He also writes for Bright Hub. Find his ebooks at Smashwords.