NFL Preview: Kansas City Might be a Force in the AFC Playoffs

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The Kansas City Chiefs signaled that they were one of the teams to beat in the AFC in the very first game of the 2017-2018 NFL Regular Season. The Chiefs beat the New England Patriots 42 to 27 as a +8 road dog.

Kansas City continued to dominate teams until, well, they stopped dominating teams. What happened, and have the Chiefs gotten past their mid-season swoon? Keep reading for my update on the Kansas City Chiefs!

Kansas City Chiefs 2017 Update

Kansas City Started Out En Fuego

How hot was Kansas City to start the season? The Chiefs won their first 5 games of the season. Not only did KC win their first 5 games of the season, they also went 5 and 0 against the spread. Check out the victories:

Kansas City 42, New England 27

Kansas City 27, Philadelphia 20

Kansas City 24, L.A. Chargers 10

Kansas City 29, Washington 20

Kansas City 42, Houston 34

There were major highlights for both KC’s offense and it’s defense in each of the first 5 games. Versus New England, the Chiefs held Tom Brady to a 16 of 36 night. Brady didn’t throw a TD pass. He only threw for 267 yards. By contrast, Alex Smith threw for 368 yards and 4 TDs. KC also rushed for 187 yards.

The Philadelphia Eagles turned out to be the best team in the NFC. In Week 2, Kansas City was a 4-point home favorite against the Eagles, though. The real standout stat in KC’s Week 2 win over Philadelphia is how they held Carson Wentz to 25 out of 46 for 333 yards, 2 TDs, and an interception. Wentz eventually would go on to dominate defenses.

Week 3’s 24 to 10 win over the L.A. Chargers was all about the Chiefs’ defense. Bolts’ QB Philip Rivers completed 20 out of 36 for 227 yards, a TD, and 3 interceptions. The Chargers could only garner 98 yards from 22 carries on the ground versus Kansas City’s D.

KC simply outplayed Washington on offense in Week 4. The Chiefs racked up 168 rushing yards. They racked up 261 net passing yards. In Week 5, Kansas City did enough to beat DeShaun Watson and the Houston Texans. The story in that game was Alex Smith. Smith threw for 324 yards and 3 TDs.

After Week 5, it appeared the Kansas City Chiefs were the whole NFL football package:  great QB, terrific defense, a stout running game, and one of the winningest coaches, Andy Reid, in NFL history. What could possibly go wrong?

What Happened to KC in the Middle of the Season?

It turns out that a lot could possibly go wrong. Shortly after Week 5, Kansas City imploded. The Chiefs ended up losing 6 out of their next 7 games. In fact, KC didn’t break a 4 game losing streak until Week 14. Check out the losses:

Week 6 – Pittsburgh 19, Kansas City 13

Week 7 – Oakland 31, Kansas City 30

Week 9 – Dallas 28, Kansas City 17

Week 11 – New York Giants 12, Kansas City 9

Week 12 – Buffalo 16, Kansas City 10

Week 13 – New York Jets 38, Kansas City 31

What’s so awful about Kansas City’s 6 losses during the middle of the season is that it’s impossible to point to a single reason why KC lost. Against Pittsburgh, the Chiefs offense just didn’t score enough points. Versus Oakland, luck did in the Chiefs. That’s the only explanation because going into the fourth quarter, KC held a 30 to 21 lead.

The loss to Dallas is sort of mind-boggling. KC only rushed for 68 yards. Still, the Chiefs were in the game until the fourth quarter. The next loss, to the New York Giants, had to have been the most frustrating.

Kansas City entered MetLife Stadium off their bye. If anything, they should have made the necessary adjustments to beat a terrible New York Giants’ defense. In a way, KC’s offense did. The Chiefs rushed for 134 yards. But, Alex Smith only completed 27 of 40 for 230 yards. Worse than that? Smith threw 2 interceptions, and zero touchdowns.

The 10 to 16 home loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 12 was almost as bad as losing to the Giants in Week 11. However, nothing beats allowing the New York Jets to score 38 points in a 31 to 38 loss in Week 13. That loss falls squarely on the shoulders of the Chiefs’ defense. The Jets rushed for 157 yards. QB Josh McCown completed 26 of 36 for 331 yards. McCown threw a TD pass.

Just went it looked like the Kansas City Chiefs might be the best team in the NFL, it all came crashing down. What could Andy Reid and Alex Smith do about it?

Is Kansas City Back on Track?

It turns out the Chiefs could do a lot about it. In the rematch versus the Oakland Raiders in NFL Week 14, the Kansas City Chiefs managed to drop the preseason Super Bowl favorites 26 to 15. Superlatives were all around as both KC’s offense and it’s defense performed well.

Kansas City’s defense held the Oakland Raiders to 70 total rushing yards. The Raiders only passed for 198 net yards. KC shut out Oakland until the fourth quarter. The Raiders scored all 15 of their points in the fourth quarter.

Kansas City carried over their fantastic performance against Oakland into Week 14. Facing a hot L.A. Chargers team, KC dominated. The Week 15 game against L.A. was for the lead in the AFC West Division. There was a point in the game when the Bolts took a 13 to 10 lead. KC stepped it up after that.

The Chiefs held the Chargers without a single point the rest of the way. Kansas City actually outscored the Chargers 20 to 7 in the second half. The Chiefs defense held L.A.’s offense to 98 rushing yards and 209 net passing yards. Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers threw for 227 yards. He threw 1 TD pass and 3 interceptions.

Based on wins against both Oakland and Kansas City, it appears that the Chiefs are back on track. With Week 16 and Week 17 left, Kansas City could solidify its position as the AFC West champion.

Bottom Line:  The Kansas City Chiefs can Challenge the Patriots and Steelers in the AFC

If the turnaround is real, and I believe it is, the Kansas City Chiefs could challenge the Patriots, Steelers, and Jaguars in the AFC. That’s how good of a football team Kansas City is when everything works the way it’s supposed to.

Kansas City battles the Miami Dolphins in Week 16. Odds makers are so sure that KC dominates the Dolphins that they set a betting line at KC -9. The line is now Kansas City -10.5. After the Dolphins in Week 16, Kansas City gets to face the Denver Broncos in Denver in Week 17. By that time, depending on what both Oakland and the L.A. Chargers do in Week 16, KC might have already sewn up the AFC West Division.

That’s the best that coach Andy Reid can hope for. Sewing up the division before the game versus the Broncos means that Reid can rest his starters. Reid would then turn his team’s attention to one of the 3 possible wildcard teams:

Tennessee Titans – I think Kansas City makes short work of the Tennessee Titans. I don’t see Tennessee making the playoffs, though. The Titans could lose both of their final 2 games and get shut out.

Buffalo Bills – In a rematch with the Buffalo Bills, my gut tells me that KC wins. Kansas City’s biggest issue was one of confidence. They appear over the confidence issue.

Baltimore Ravens – This would make for an excellent game. KC does not want to face the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. Nobody wants to face the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. Baltimore is the one team that Kansas City should have trouble with.

L.A. Chargers – KC smacked the Bolts around in Week 15. What would change in the playoffs? Nothing.

It sounds crazy, but things could set up well for the Kansas City Chiefs. If they win the division, they’ll battle the wildcard team with the worst record. That’s not likely to be the Baltimore Ravens, the wildcard team with the best chance to upset KC.

After winning in the Wildcard Round, Kansas City should take on the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the Divisional Round. I believe KC’s got a great shot of beating the Steelers in the rematch. Then? It’s New England or Jacksonville. Kansas City might yet be the best team in the AFC.

What do you think?

Written by D.S. Williamson

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