Nov 1, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (center) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Ropati Pitoitua (75) and strong safety Eric Berry (29) during the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs In The Playoff Hunt

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I hope everyone is having a great and safe day with family, friends and barbecue!

Over the past two weeks, we’ve taken a walk through the first half of the 2013 season for the Kansas City Chiefs. Today, we’ll look at the third quarter of the season. My predictions through the first eight games would leave the AFC West like this:

5-2 San Diego Chargers

5-3 Kansas City Chiefs

5-3 Denver Broncos

1-6 Oakland Raiders

That’s not bad at all – in fact, I think we’d all be elated with this situation. Remember, regardless of how much talent we had last year, the Chiefs were still a 2-14 team, tied for the worst record in the league with Jacksonville (and that’s the last time I ever want our team mentioned in the same sentence as the Jags). The truth is, we have no choice but to be at least 5-3 going into the third quarter, given the horrific journey the Chiefs will have to go through beginning in Week 8.

For context, here’s the full schedule, with last year’s records in parenthesis:

Quarter 1

  1. @ Jaguars (2-14)

  2. Cowboys (8-8)

  3. @ Eagles (4-12)

  4. Giants (9-7)

Quarter 2

  1. @ Titans (6-10)

  2. Raiders (4-12)

  3. Texans (12-4)

  4. Browns (5-11)

Quarter 3

  1. @ Bills (6-10)

  2. Bye week

  3. @ Broncos (13-3)

  4. Chargers (7-9)

  5. Broncos (13-3)

Quarter 4

  1. @ Redskins (10-6)

  2. @ Raiders (4-12)

  3. Colts (11-5)

  4. @ Chargers (7-9)

For the last half of the season, the gods of the NFL have created an American Ninja-type obstacle course for Kansas City, weaving in five of our six division games as well as head-to-head bashes with last year’s rookie sensations in RG3 at Washington and Andrew Luck and the Colts at Arrowhead. Buckle your chin straps and take a deep breath, Addicts. Week 8 is our most difficult quarter and will be a rite of passage for this first year of Andy Reid’s tenure. Here’s where I think we end up after three quarters of play.

Week 9: @ Buffalo Bills: This game is in Buffalo, but these are not the Buffalo Bills you remember. New Head Coach Doug Marrone came over from Syracuse and there’s a brewing quarterback controversy, with former Eagle and Cardinal Kevin Kolb and first round draft E.J. Manuel fighting for starter’s rights. Both will be better than former QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. C.J. Spiller headlines the offensive talent, while on the defensive side, the Bills brought in defensive end Mario Williams with a $100 million contract, joining the 2011 3rd overall pick, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. The big problem for the Bills – which they did not entirely address this offseason – is their run defense. To make matters worse, their corners, Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin, won’t exactly strike fear into the heart of Dwayne Bowe. This game is the easiest of our four-game spread, and therefore, we must win it. Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Doug Pederson goes wild. Jamaal Charles racks up 125 yards in the first quarter alone, running behind Branden Albert and rookie Eric Fisher equally productively. Quarterback Alex Smith throws for over 300 yards of the play action, and the Chiefs win a road game, 38-21.

Week 10: Bye: After nine games, the bye couldn’t come soon enough. Rest up, Chiefs, and get ready for our first game against the hated…

Week 11: @ Denver Broncos: Here we go, Addicts. We will have had two weeks to prepare for the Broncos. The Broncos will likely come into this game atop the AFC West. Barring injury, Peyton Manning will be among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, and rookie running back Eddie Lacy will be having a monster season. All-planet linebacker Von Miller will be having another Pro Bowl year, with the ageless Champ Bailey at cornerback and new additions Shaun Phillips at the other outside linebacker spot and first round pick Sylvester Williams at defensive tackle to bolster a weak defensive front. The big story of today however, will be the Broncos’ trio of receivers: Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker. Often cited as the best unit in the league, these receivers catch over 350 yards worth of passes from Manning. Meanwhile, the Chiefs come out of the bye flat, and just can’t get anything going on offense. Sadly, the Broncos win, 31-13.

Week 12: @ San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are revitalized this year. Their offense will be just as potent as the Broncos, with Philip Rivers at quarterback and a killer corps of wide receivers in Vincent Brown, Danario Alexander and third round pick Keenan Allen. Alexander in particular, will give the Chiefs trouble. At 6’5”, Alexander will probably draw the 6’3 Sean Smith in coverage with Flowers taking Vincent Brown. The biggest question for the Chargers this year has been at left tackle. With King Dunlap starting last year, the Chargers had probably the worst left tackle situation in the league. This summer, they picked up Pittsburgh Steeler starter Max Starks, who is entering his 10th year in the league. While first round pick and tackle J.D. Fluker will anchor the right side, the left side is still a concern for the Chargers. But playing at home, I think the Chargers have too much firepower on offense on this day. The Chargers beat our Chiefs, 28-24.

Week 13: Denver Broncos: Weeks 11-13 are about the toughest three game stretch I can remember, finishing with the Broncos traveling to Arrowhead. Both teams will have fresh memories of one another. But, the Chiefs will be more up for this game than any this season. We will be defending our home turf. With all Addicts on fire, today is the defense’s day. With payback on their minds, Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson neutralize the Broncos’ wide receivers and intercept Manning twice. Unlike the first meeting between these teams, a key question will be whether the Chiefs can pressure Peyton Manning. Fortunately for the Chiefs, the Broncos’ offensive line has had a difficult offseason, with left tackle Ryan Clady, right tackle Orlando Franklin and center J.D. Walton all have offseason surgery. Walton is expected to miss at least half of the season. Here’s where the Chiefs attack. Dontari Poe will disrupt Peyton and Lacy all day long, allowing our linebackers to force Peyton into hurried throws, without needing a blitz. Chiefs get revenge and win at home, 27-17.

So there you have it – the Chiefs finish Quarter 1 with a 2-2 record, and 7-5 overall. By way of comparison, my predictions for our divisional rivals are for the first quarter are:

Team

Opponents

Quarterly Records

Overall Record

Denver Broncos

Ravens (lose)

@ Giants (lose)

Raiders (win)

Eagles (win)

@ Cowboys (win)

Jaguars (win)

@ Colts (lose)

Redskins (win)

BYE

@ Chargers (win)

Chiefs (win)

@ Patriots (lose)

@ Chiefs (lose)

2-2

3-1

2-2

7-5

San Diego Chargers

Texans (lose)

@ Eagles (win)

Titans (win)

Cowboys (win)

@ Raiders (win)

Colts (lose)

@ Jaguars (win)

BYE

@ Redskins (lose)

Broncos (lose)

@ Dolphins (win)

@ Chiefs (lose)

Bengals (win)

3-1

2-1

2-3

7-5

Oakland Raiders

@ Colts (lose)

Jaguars (win)

@ Broncos (lose)

Redskins (lose)

Chargers (lose)

@ Chiefs (lose)

BYE

Steelers (lose)

@ Eagles (lose)

@ Giants (lose)

@ Texans (lose)

Titans (win)

@ Dallas (lose)

1-3

0-3

1-4

2-10

Going into the last quarter of the season, we have a three-way tie for first, with the Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers all at 7-5 and the Raiders holding down last convincingly, at 2-10. Addicts, am I on track? Where do you have the Chiefs after 12 games?!

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