The NFL Playoffs are upon us. This weekend features four Wild Card games, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. This is the first season that I can remember where all 12 playoff teams feel like potential Super Bowl winners; that being said, every team can also be defeated. It only takes three or four wins to be crowned champion. The real winner this season: NFL fans.
The Kansas City Chiefs have had an up and down season. They were the last remaining unbeaten team at 9-0, before losing to the Denver Broncos. That started a three game losing streak, two of which came against the Broncos which basically cost the Chiefs the division title and home field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs.
The Chiefs were able to add two more wins, but dropped their last two games of the season to finish with a record of 11-5. If you didn’t catch that, Kansas City dropped five of their last seven games… And their two wins? They beat the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders. Not exactly playoff caliber teams.
In fact, all of the Chiefs’ losses came against teams that are currently in the AFC playoffs. They lost to the Denver Broncos twice, San Diego Chargers twice, and Indianapolis Colts once. The Chiefs have only beaten ONE playoff team this entire season, and that was all the way back in week 3 against the Michael Vick Eagles. Philly has come a long way since then.
When you look at the five losses the Chiefs have, there are a few things that stand out. First, their third-down efficiency. In all of their losses, Kansas City converted less than 40% of their third-down opportunities. The Colts held them to just one first-down conversion on eight chances. Get your defense off the field on third-down.
Jamaal Charles is one of the main reasons the Chiefs are in the playoffs. He has been consistently dynamic, and is directly responsible for many of Kansas City’s wins. The teams that have beaten the Chiefs have found ways to out-rushed Jamaal Charles (or at least got close). In their four losses where Charles was the feature back, he rushed for 392 yards and 4 touchdowns. Their opponents put up 464 yards and 5 touchdowns. He will get his yards, and he will get his touchdowns. But you have to find a way to out-rush Jamaal Charles.
Through nine weeks of the regular season, the Chiefs defense had 35 sacks and they were 9-0. In the last seven weeks, they had only 11 sacks and lost five games. They had roughly four per game decrease to about one and a half. To beat KC, you must keep your quarterback clean. The Chiefs are expected to have Justin Houston and Tamba Hali on the field for the first time since week 12. This is a different defense than what Indianapolis saw in their week 16 win.