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NFL Playoff Preview: Kansas City Chiefs

Photo: USA Today Sports

The 10-6 Kansas City Chiefs are pursuing their first Lombardi Trophy since 1970. Here’s how they stand entering the postseason.

The regular season is in the books and Andy Reid, Alex Smith, and the 10-6 Kansas City Chiefs are set for another shot at the Lombardi Trophy. The NFL’s fifth-ranked offense has guided the team through a roller coaster of a season.   

The Chiefs have overcome adversity to win the AFC West for the second year in a row, after a race that went down to the wire. Now, the team heads into the postseason, and their first test is a showdown at home against the Tennessee Titans. Here is a breakdown of the team’s outlook in the AFC playoff race.

Key Players 

Offense: RB Kareem Hunt, WR Tyreek Hill 

Rookie sensation Kareem Hunt leads the league in rushing yards (1,327) and has only one fumble (on his very first NFL carry) in nearly three hundred carries. The Chiefs’ ball carrier will leverage every bit of his experience gained this year against talented defenses in the postseason.

Second-year wideout Tyreek Hill ranks seventh in the NFL in receiving yards. Hill has separated himself as a downfield receiver this year. His yards per reception have dramatically shot up from 9.7 in 2016 to 15.8 in 2017. Hill ranks seventh in the NFL in receiving yards (1,183) and third among wide receivers in yards after the catch (467).   

Defense: LB Justin Houston, CB Marcus Peters 

Veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston has been a force on the edge, accumulating 9.5 sacks in 2017. If Houston can get around the Tennessee offensive line, which has allowed just 2.2 sacks per game on average this season, he can disrupt Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and force some bad throws, which brings us to the Chiefs secondary.

Young cornerback Marcus Peters has been a stud in the turnover department, having intercepted five passes and forcing four fumbles, and recovering two (one for a touchdown) this season.

Best Win and Worst Loss 

Best Win: 42-27 over New England Patriots (Week1) 

KansasCity spoiled the Super Bowl LI ceremony in Foxborough when they ran up 537 yards and 42 points, including 21 in the final quarter. This signature win on the season’s opening night vaulted Kansas City to the top of numerous power rankings and sparked a 5-0 start.

Worst Loss: 12-9 to New York Giants (Week 11) 

Arguably the hottest team to start the season looked completely lost as they attempted to guide their way through the middle of their schedule. Losing to a Giants team which finished 3-13, and managing just 9 points against a defense which allowed 24.2 on average, was definitely rock bottom for Kansas City.   

Previous Matchups with Playoff Teams 

Week 1: 42-27 Win at (1) New England Patriots
Week 2: 27-20 Win vs. (1) Philadelphia Eagles
Week 6: 19-13 Loss vs. (2) Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 12: 16-10 Loss vs. (6) Buffalo Bills    

The Kansas City defense held the Patriots’ and Eagles’ juggernaut offenses to 27 and 20 points, respectively early in the season. Mid-season, the Chiefs offense sputtered, yielding losses to Pittsburgh and Buffalo, and failing to score multiple touchdowns at home on both occasions.

Performance Leading Up to Postseason 

Kansas City has recovered from a rocky 3-5 stint in October and November. The Chiefs enter the playoffs riding a four-game win streak, holding their opponents to an average of 16.25 points per game during that stretch. However, victories against Oakland, the L.A. Chargers, Miami, and Denver (teams with a combined record of 26-38) have served as a warm-up for postseason matchups against the AFC’s best.      

Level of Contender: Medium 

Kansas City has a loaded roster, mixed with both young, electrifying talent and veteran leadership and playoff experience, which will help the team to escape the first round. Head Coach Andy Reid is 11-12 in 23 career postseason matchups and will be prepared against familiar faces in the conference.

The later rounds of the AFC playoffs will be a whole other world. New England and Pittsburgh have been sitting atop the AFC as the unquestioned front-runners virtually all season long. The Chiefs need a big break and a few lucky plays to bounce their way if they hope to leapfrog these two dominant franchises, each holding a 13-3 record.   

Kansas City’s defense, which ranks 28th in yards allowed, will have to step up in a big way for the team to stay in games this postseason. If they can do their job on the defensive side of the ball, the dense set of firepower on offense can win games for the Chiefs in January. 

Edited by Jeremy Losak, Brian Kang.

Who quarterbacked the Chiefs in their 1970 Super Bowl victory?
Created 1/4/18
  1. Mike Livingston
  2. Len Dawson
  3. Tony Adams
  4. Steve Fuller

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