Sep 19, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (82) and cornerback Sean Smith (27) celebrate with fans after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Chiefs defeated the Eagles 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff-Caliber Chiefs Have Room To Grow

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Normally I spend a lot of time tweeting from the Arrowhead Addict Twitter account during games but Thursday I took the night off.

A good friend of mine and the man that officiated my wedding was in town from California. This guy is a Chiefs fan (it is how we became friends) and so I had him over to my place to watch the Thursday night clash in Philly. I didn’t want to be rude and so when he arrived, I shut my computer and watched the Chiefs game without tweeting for the first time in roughly three years.

It was an interesting feeling not being tuned in to the thoughts and knee-jerk reactions of the Chiefs Kingdom. Watching the game while participating in the live chat on AA and by watching Twitter pretty much makes it feel like I’m in a sports bar with a bunch of other Chiefs fans.

Larry and I watched and went through a lot of the emotions I am sure you all went through during last night’s contest. It was a roller coaster ride to say the least.

“I don’t feel like we’re winning,” Larry turned and said to me.

The Chiefs were up 16-10 at the time.

“We’re going to lose this game,” I exclaimed to Larry a little later.

“We can’t score. We can’t score to save our lives.”

It is strange to watch your team lead an entire NFL game and spend most of that time wallowing in doom and gloom.

But that is what Larry and I did.

It didn’t matter that the defense was doing a tremendous job. We were convinced that eventually, the Chiefs were going to blow it.

Only they didn’t.

Some time during the third quarter, Larry got up to go to the bathroom and I cracked. I grabbed my computer, flipped it open and loaded up Twitter.

It was mayhem.

Chiefs fans were freaking out. One reader tweeted to me:

This is not a better team than last years, just luckier. They look pathetic

That comment snapped me out of my own funk.

“This team is way, way better,” I replied.

It was true.

Yes, there were times last night when frustration directed towards the Chiefs offense was justified. It seemed like Alex Smith just flat out refused to throw the ball at times. Flat. Out. Refused.

He also seemed less confident in his running ability than he did last week against the Cowboys. There were plenty of times where it seemed like Smith stood in the pocket way too long and decided to take off and run way too late. As a result, he was sacked five times.

The Chiefs also struggled mightily in the red zone. They just couldn’t seem to punch it in.

Then there were the penalties. KC was flagged nine times for 65 yards.

Yet when the clock hit zero, Alex Smith’s stat line looked like this:

22/35 for 273 (average of 7.8 yards per completion) 0 TDs and 0 INTs.

Here are a few more relevant facts:

-The Chiefs couldn’t seem to get the running game going…until they did…in the 4th quarter…when they needed to. Jamaal Charles finished the game with 20 carries for 92 yards and a TD. He also added seven receptions for 80 yards.

-Alex Smith didn’t get the ball to Dwayne Bowe. But he got it to Donnie Avery. Smith targeted Avery seven times and Avery caught seven balls for 141 yards.

-Smith, who loved throwing to Vernon Davis in San Francisco and who is at his best throwing across the middle, was without Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce. Yet he hit TE Sean McGrath four times for 31 yards

-The Chiefs engineered two drives in the 4th quarter (the first started in the 3rd quarter) that led to 10 points. The key drive of the game was a 15-play,75-yard march that began on the KC five and ended in three points, putting the Chiefs back up by 10.

The Chiefs finished off the Eagles much in the same way they finished off the Cowboys. After struggling on offense against “America’s Team” the Chiefs scored a second-half TD that put them in the lead for good. They then used the running game to run out the clock and send the Cowboys home as losers.

Thursday night, KC busted out another long, clock-eating scoring drive and again, used the running game late to put things on ice.

The Chiefs have some work to do if they want to keep winning. They absolutely must find a way to be more explosive on offense if they hope to keep pace with the likes of the Denver Broncos.

We Chiefs fans have some work to do, too. We need to ease off the panic button during games so that we are better able to enjoy the ride. After a year of complete and utter misery, our beloved Chiefs are back in business and appear to be on their way to the playoffs.

There is nothing wrong with wanting the Chiefs to be better than they are right now. That is the nature of sports fans. When our teams are bad, we just want to win. When our teams are winning, we want them to dominate.

It is fine to be a little greedy when it comes to the Chiefs. Just don’t let your desire for KC to be the best make you say things like:

“We’re going to lose.”

“I don’t feel like we’re winning.”

And certainly don’t say:

“This is not a better team than last years, just luckier. They look pathetic.”

No, no.

This team is good.

Right now, save the two games against the Broncos, there isn’t a single game on the Chiefs’ schedule that I don’t think Kansas City can win. In fact, after watching Bob Sutton’s defense shutdown the explosive Eagles last night, I’m not convinced that by the time the Broncos finally come to town, that the Chiefs offense won’t have improved enough that KC might not be abel to steal one from Peyton Manning, too.

It may be time for us to adjust our expectations a little bit. The Kansas City Chiefs are a playoff team…and they have a lot of room to improve.

And that is damn exciting.

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