Sep 29, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Sean McGrath (84) is congratulated by wide receiver Donnie Avery (17) after scoring a touchdown against the New York Giants in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Top Ten Reasons The Kansas City Chiefs Will Make The Playoffs


The Kansas City Chiefs are 4-0.

Let that soak in for a minute. Really think about where the Chiefs and their fans were less than a year ago. The team was the worst in football. Fans were flying banners over the stadium and the few that showed up to games were wearing black instead of their tradition “Sea of Red” attire. There was what felt like a never ending parade of games where KC never even had a lead. There was the Jovan Belcher tragedy. There was the Eric Winston rant. I don’t know if there is such a thing in the NFL as a lower “rock bottom” than what KC hit last season. I’m sure Lions fans would point towards their 0-16 season, but this somehow felt even worse.

Now, less than a year later, the Chiefs are 4-0 and life for the Chiefs and their fans is good.

There are no sure things in the NFL. No team can ever take anything for granted. Injuries can derail a team. Just as quickly as a team can build positive momentum, it can swing the other way. Technically, KC could still finish the season 4-12.

That having been said, I am now confident that the 2013 Chiefs will be a playoff team. I’m not saying that they are one of the elite teams in the NFL, or a Super Bowl contender, but this team is going to make the playoffs. This isn’t just the “cloud nine” rantings of a huge homer after the latest KC win. I actually didn’t think KC would make the playoffs before the season started. I had them going 9-7, and thought if things broke right for them that they might be in wild card contention down the stretch. I thought just competing for a playoff spot would be a massive upgrade coming off a 2-14 season. The thought of jumping all the way from the worst team in the NFL to a legit playoff team was too big of jump for one offseason, even with the returning talent that KC had.

Those doubts are now gone. I believe there are several reasons for EVERY KC fan (even the pessimists) to believe that this team will make the playoffs. In fact, I believe there are at least 10 of them.

Here they are, in order of significance:

10. John Dorsey has greatly improved KC’s depth.

On Saturday, I posted a special feature on GM John Dorsey. I listed several reasons why I believed he has been a huge part of KC’s new found success. One of those were the players he has added to the bottom of the roster. On Sunday, the Chiefs at one point were without the top three TEs from preseason (Fasano, Kelce, Moeaki), two offensive line starters (Allen, Fisher), and their best cover CB (Flowers). Despite these losses, KC was able to continue to play effectively. Sean McGrath looked great at TE. While the offensive line was still not fantastic, the drop off from the missing starters to Donald Stephenson and Geoff Schwartz was minimal at worst. Marcus Cooper, a rookie that was signed after being cut by the 49ers, did a fantastic job filling in for the injured Flowers. Remember Jake O’Connell and Jalil Brown? Those are the players that KC used to bring in off the bench. These Chiefs have been able to keep pace, even without some key players. Could KC survive any amount of injuries? Of course not, but this team is much better prepared to survive some players missing time then in previous years and John Dorsey deserves a ton of credit for that.

9. The Special Teams play helps keep KC in games.

The Special Teams haven’t been perfect. They have allowed a couple of blocked/tipped kicks and punter Dustin Colquitt was almost injured in Sunday’s game. However, the Chiefs have still been the clear winner on special teams each week. The kick coverage has been solid. The returns have been a huge advantage for KC. Dustin Colquitt has showed why KC made him the highest paid punter in the league, and has been HUGE in helping KC win the field position battle. During the game Sunday they showed a stat that kicker Ryan Succop is the current leader for franchise career FG percentage with over 80% of his FGs made. The signing of ST Coach Dave Toub looks like one of the best moves of the offseason.

8. The competition in the AFC is wide open this year.

Some seasons there are 3-4 teams in the AFC that you know you can pencil in for the playoffs before the season even starts. While injuries can always change things, it’s still usually a safe bet. This year there is only one team that everyone knows will be in the playoffs, and that’s the Denver Broncos. The Patriots are probably a close second, but because of all the offensive weapons they have lost, I don’t think you can put them in the “sure thing” category with Denver. After that, there are no sure things. The Texans were suppose to be one of those teams, but are just 2-2 and a couple of plays away from being 0-4. The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens were blown out in their opener and just lost to the Bills. The Bengals were another team many had penciled into the playoffs, but they’re just 2-2 and got punched in the mouth by the Browns. The other teams in the AFC with winning records are the Dolphins, Colts, and Titans. While these teams have looked good, I don’t know that an objective observer would classify any of them as being significantly better teams than KC. The AFC playoff spots are open for the taking.

7. The Chiefs remaining schedule is favorable.

There are still 12 games remaining in the Chiefs 2013 schedule. A lot can happen in that many games. However, even though you can’t take any game for granted, the Chiefs don’t have a murderers row of opponents on their remaining schedule. Of those 12 games, only four are against teams that have a winning record right now. Two of them are the home and road match ups with Denver, one is against the Colts who have to come to Arrowhead late in the year, and the other is next week’s match up with the Titans in Tennessee. That will be a tough game, but it looks like the Titans may be without their starting QB Jake Locker who was a HUGE part of their 3-1 start before injuring his hip against the Jets. Two of the games that I had as loses before the season started were at home against Houston and at Washington. While those could both be difficult games, those teams have struggled out of the gate so far. If you compare KC’s schedule with those of New England, Miami, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Houston, Indianapolis, and Tennessee I think most would agree that KC’s schedule is the easiest on paper.

6. The Arrowhead Advantage Is Back

Arrowhead was rocking on Sunday against the Giants. It was clear that the noise was bothering Eli Manning, especially any time he was backed up against his own goalline. KC fans are some of the most passionate fans in the NFL. They made their point last season when they felt that the team was going in the wrong direction, but now that the ship has been righted, they are back and stronger than ever. As the wins continue to mount, the crowds will continue to get bigger and louder. While checking the price of tickets online, I’ve noticed that the cost of some of the games have almost doubled since before the season started. The other thing that Arrowhead has going in it’s favor is that home field crowds help the defense more than the offense. The fact that KC boasts one of the best defenses in the NFL makes the Arrowhead faithful all the more intimidating to opposing teams.

5. The Chiefs are dominating the turnover battle.

Teams that win the turnover battle usually win the game. Thus far the Chiefs are an impressive +9 in the turnover margin through four weeks. Even though they turned the ball over three times against the Giants, they still broke even for the game. What the Chiefs proved Sunday is that because their defense is so good, they can survive an occasional turnover. The Chiefs new attacking style defense has proven to be effective at creating turnovers, largely because of the constant pressure the opposing quarterback is under. Meanwhile, Alex Smith has done a great job of protecting the football. This is a great formula for winning the turnover battle, and as we all know, that puts you in a great position to win games.

4. The Chiefs are 4-0.

This may go without saying, but teams that are 4-0 have great odds of making the playoffs. Since 1990, 82% of teams that started out 4-0 have gone on to make the playoffs. Again, nothing is for sure and the Chiefs absolutely shouldn’t get overconfident since 18% of 4-0 teams (about 1 in 5) don’t make the playoffs. However, the odds are now heavily in KC’s favor. The Chiefs have put themselves in outstanding position to keep playing in January.

3. The combination of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston is almost unstoppable.

I was originally planning on having the Chiefs defense all lumped into one spot on the countdown, but I feel like the pressure that Hali and Houston apply is such a game changer, that it deserves its own spot. I’ll go so far to say that Hali and Houston are two of the four most vital players on the Chiefs along with Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles. Neither of KC’s OLBs can effectively be blocked by one man. That means that opposing teams have to pick their poison. If they double Hali, like some teams did to start the season, then Houston will get you. If you double Houston (like the Giants often did), then Hali will get you. The only other alternative is to commit 4 of your 11 offensive players to blocking these two men, and that essentially leaves too few offensive play makers available to be successful. It allows KC to get away with single coverage on the outside. It allows overload blitzes to get to the QB, because the protection is worried about two players. These two are an offensive coordinator’s worst nightmare and a huge reason that no team is going to be happy to be facing KC.

2. Andy Reid / Alex Smith (tie)

I debated for a long time whether Reid should be #1 or #2 on this list. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. The truth is that Andy Reid brought a credibility, a confidence, and a proven way of doing things that has brought together the talented individuals on this roster and made them into a team. The Chiefs weren’t really a team last year. They were a group of individuals that bumbled and stumbled their way through the season and NEVER looked like they were all on the same page. That changed from the get go when Reid arrived. Players are listening to Reid and following his plan. The fact that there is a plan at all is an upgrade. The fact that it is a plan that has proven success and that the players have fully embraced it just up the ante even more.

Alex Smith’s impact on the team is similar. Ever since Trent Green left town, KC has lacked a true leader at the QB position. I’m not here to debate what you think of Smith’s throwing ability and rehash the “game manager/captain checkdown” criticisms. I’m talking about the Chiefs having a guy in the huddle that the rest of the team looks to and respects as the leader of this team. Think about the QBs this team has endured: Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, Tyler Palko, Brodie Croyle. This team was so starved for a true NFL QB that Kyle Orton was seen as a savior at one point. Alex Smith will never be Peyton Manning, but the Chiefs didn’t have to get a Manning to seriously upgrade their QB position. They just needed someone that could take control of the huddle and lead this team. They needed someone that they could trust would not lose the game that the rest of the team had fought to win. They have that now in Alex Smith.

1. The Defense

This defense is special. This defense is the #1 reason that I believe the Chiefs won’t squander their 4-0 start to the season. I believe when the season is over that we’ll be able to say that the Chiefs defense was one of the most elite units in the NFL this season. They just have too many great pieces that compliment each other so well. It starts with Houston and Hali, like I mentioned already. The next key is the ability for KC to cover the outside WRs 1 on 1. Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith are both excellent at manning up at the line of scrimmage and doing battle. I was worried about Flowers being out Sunday (these worries were confirmed when Robinson was torched deep), but Marcus Cooper showed great promise of playing the same physical 1 on 1 style that the starting CBs use. Regardless, the combination of elite edge rushers and great coverage corners allows a TON of freedom for DC Bob Sutton to use the other pieces of his defense as he sees fit. Then you add Dontari Poe becoming a dominant force in the middle, Derrick Johnson being one of the best ILBs in all the NFL, and Eric Berry flying all over the field and you have a defense that can stop you in so many different ways. This defense will keep the Chiefs in almost every game they play and is the main reason I think this Chiefs team will make the playoffs.

So get excited KC fans. This is not just a fluke start. I understand that KC’s first four opponents are a combined 3-13 thus far. That doesn’t change anything in my mind. Everything I stated above still holds true. The Chiefs 4 wins still count as much as any other win in the NFL does. With how this team is built, with how their schedule plays out, with how the AFC is shaping up, I believe this team will make the playoffs. You can say its too early for that kind of talk, you can tell me I’m “jinxing” it if you like.

I believe, and I think you should too.

If you don’t have tickets to a game this season yet, get some. If you set your expectations for this team low, so you wouldn’t be disappointed, it’s time to raise the bar. This team is now in the drivers seat for a playoff spot. The Chiefs Kingdom should ALL be 100% behind them. I don’t know if they have a shot to beat Denver, who looks incredible so far, but you don’t have to be better than Denver to make the playoffs. In fact, being able to beat other playoff teams isn’t a requirement to make the playoffs. The Chiefs just have to have a better win/loss record then the other AFC teams they are competing with. For all the reasons I listed above, I believe the Chiefs will.

How about you Addicts? Are you all in on making the playoffs? Am I off base? Is it too soon? Am I drinking the Kool Aid too much? Do you agree, but think by Top Ten is out of order? Did I leave a key reason off the list?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • berttheclock

    All excellent points, as usual, Lyle.

    May I add Brock being brought back by Dorsey as a plus. He made a key reception to move the chains. Everyone is in awe of the human “pin ball wizard” spins and moves by Dexter, but, one of his key plays was catching a pass and stretching every inch of his five eight frame for a much needed 1st down.

    Watch out for the game against the Browns. Their defense is very tough and I’m sure the Under bettors in Vegas will load up on a defensive spectacle. However, the most positive aspect of the remaining season is the Chiefs are still a work in progress and they appear to be a team where both coaches and players can learn from any mistake and move forward. When, some of the walking and limping wounded heal, as well, watch out Broncos.

    However, one question for you Lyle. Should any offensive team double both Hali and Houston, don’t forget about doubling Poe. That only leaves 5 players to pick up the other Chiefs.

  • Sarah Thomas

    I really like your thinking~~~~ GO CHIEFS! #LOUDANDPROUD

  • berttheclock

    Two points about yesterday’s game. I tried to concentrate on watching Fisher on offense and Poe on defense. Prior to being concussed, I thought Fisher was playing far better. He did have one false start. However, after Stephenson replaced him, Stephenson (AKA the Wilson Missed Pick) had a clip.

    As for Poe, the Giants were double teaming him. Poe, after initial contact, kept moving to his right drawing the blockers with him and leaving holes to his left. Sutton has really brought intelligence to the defensive unit.

  • tm1946

    Had forgotten about Winston being a Chief, got to rebrush my teeth. This team is a different animal than previous Chief’s teams, not sure why but suspect it has a lot to do with Dorsey and Reid. competent players and professional attitude
    Most of us would have been satisfied with 8-8 this season but at 4-0, the possibilities are endless. I may be as happy as a clam but am looking only at the next game and how they will attack it. Exception: a little daydreaming about a certain bunch of horses once in a while.

    Great win and I intend to bask in the afterglow for the required 24 hours, then check out injuries and get ready for the next “great” game.

  • micah stephenson

    The defense shud b 1-9!!!!!

    • berttheclock

      23 of 34 for 289 yards – Wow!

      But, 2 INTs and 2 fumbles lost

      QBR rating of 7.8 – Rating of 79.2

      Geez, Micah, are not those “Franchise Numbers”? Well, he throw one TD.

      Alex Smith will be facing the same defense, next week. Stay tuned.

      • micah stephenson

        Its ok. Did you see P.Mannings and P.Rivers numbers?

    • superman_25_58

      Huh? Does this even make sense?

      • BigGil

        I had to think hard about that, too. I’m 99% sure he’s saying that, of the Top Ten reasons the Chiefs should make the playoffs, their Defense should be reasons 1 through 9.

      • micah stephenson

        The defense is reasons number 1, 2, & 3 of why we winning.

        • superman_25_58

          I don’t think so…………. I say it starts with Dorsey/Reid/and staff, I mean if you don’t believe me just go ask the Saints. Their D was horrible last year, one of the worst actually and now look Sean Peyton is back they hire Rob Ryan and now it’s one of the top D’s in the NFL. So great coaching and the right staff make all the difference in the world to a team and a whole organization! Our offense will come around after they have time to play and gel together and they will start helping the D out more. #Gottahavefaith

          • micah stephenson

            I give Andy Ried all the credit in the world too. I was real happy when he was hired. He is a good coach.

          • superman_25_58

            Yes he is, but I couldn’t give the defense any credit for points on the board against the Giants but, I can however give them credit for being a good young (for the most part) explosive defense that gets after it and creates turnovers and good field position. The defense takes a lot of pressure off the offense which gives them time to gel together like a new team needs. This team is able to do this while still winning in the process which is amazing IMO. We’re Back!

  • Tom Sparks

    Great read, as usual, Lyle! Couldn’t agree more with your insight. I am going to sit back and enjoy breathing this rare air while we are riding this wave of confidence and sense of “Team” we have going! I believe we are going to enjoy success for years with the GM/HC tandem Clark hired! It is a feeling that we, as Chiefs maniacs have been hoping for for much too long!
    Thanks for the great article! You are always great to read! The Sea of Red is back, Jack! GO CHIEFS, INDEED!

    • Nemoi

      I expected a cool drink of Koolaid when I read the title of the article. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan Koolaid but this article was well researched and well written. Great job with your insight and your facts, Lyle. I don’t even think that the doubters could much argue your logic on this one!

  • berttheclock

    All right, so this will not be on topic, but, did anyone else notice some numbers from yesterday?

    16 of 25 for 248 yards, 2 TDs, a QBR of 52.0 and a passer’s rating of 123.4.

    Yes, kudos to Matt Cassell. He, finally, has won a game as a starting QB.

    • berttheclock

      Hey, why the negative vote? I am very happy the Chiefs have Alex Smith and not Matt C. But, I, also, wish him the best as long as he is not productive against the Chiefs.

      • Jordan

        My guess would be because he squandered two consecutive years of our lives away… But yes I saw the numbers and I think he’s a good fit(anywhere but here) there

        • steve james

          I think if Weis stayed his legacy with the Chiefs would still be being written. Not saying I want him but it is very apparent Weis is another quality coach who got him to the pro bowl.

  • berttheclock

    Now, where oh where are those Eagles fans telling the Arrowhead nation that Andy Reid is a loser and Chip Kelly will be changing the face of the NFL?

  • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

    Nice call Lyle. I nominate Cooper for an Arrowhead. He really stepped up on Sunday

    • superman_25_58

      I agree 100%

  • Danny W

    Statistically we should be in the playoffs. The numbers are there. We get hit by the injury bug and we could blow it.

  • Trevor McDowell

    Arrowhead was rockin Sunday! KC has home field advantage again! Go Chiefs!

  • BigGil

    I’d put Dorsey improving the depth higher in the rankings. It’s kinda sad, but I grew so accustomed to subpar play from the Chiefs for so long that I’m actually, in shock and awe, rediscovering just how much of a significant impact bottom roster guys can have in a game. Sean McGrath and his pretty great playing while Fasano/Kelce are injured (both in receiving and blocking), Marcus Cooper’s performance yesterday, Ron Parker’s sack/strip of Romo in Week 2, Demps in his return ability as a whole (and when he’s on the field on D), Abdullah seems to be playing pretty solid when he’s on the field on D, even Kevin Brock (though he only had 2 catches yesterday, one of them was HUGE); and I suppose Schwartz to an extent (our line as a whole could be gelling better together, but he’s at least served as not much of a dropoff from what we were getting from the guy he was replacing when he’s had to play). For these bottom roster guys to be able to come in and, not only not harm us much (if at all) when they’re on the field, but also occasionally come through with huge plays (so not just “not hurting us” but occasionally “massively helping us”) is something I have not seen in quite some time. This is not only a good sign that Dorsey knows his shit and can get us solid guys, but also that Reid knows his shit in getting the most out of these players and getting everyone on the team buying into his philosophy and playing as a team. I severely doubt any of the superstar starters aren’t giving these role players props for their contributions (though the role players are on the field significantly less), and I love it. This is teamwork. This is unity. This is (as their chant this year seems to be) family. Everyone on this team seems to matter. Everyone on this team seems to be making their own significant contributions. And everyone on this team seems to be supporting every last fellow teammate, and I am loving it. GO CHIEFS!!!

    • Lyle Graversen

      Yeah, I had trouble with 5-10. I actually thought all of those were pretty interchangeable. Your point about Dorsey is well taken.

  • Tanner Cobb

    We could lose half of our remaining games and still go 10-6. But I don’t see that happening. 10-6 has to be the worst case scenario and I see 13-3 as the best case scenario (yes I know that’s a lot). Look at the rest of the schedule and other than the 2 games against Denver, who do we have to really worry about??

  • Calchiefsfan

    Great article Lyle, I concur on all points. I do not want to minimize our remaining schedule though. While I’m thinking 12-4 is very realistic for the Chiefs this year, it won’t be easy to hit that. They have Denver twice, a much improved San Diego, (Rivers is back), Tennessee, Houston (barely lost to Seattle), Indianapolis, a much improved Cleveland and the Redskins who might have RG3 up to speed by the time we play them. Not to mention Oakland, who always plays us tough no matter how much they suck.

    That being said, I have no doubt we’re going to the playoffs! I predicted 10-6 at the beginning of the year, (in one of my homer moments I said 11-5 even). Now I’ve upped it to 12-4. Defense and special teams will make the difference.

    Happy to see Bowe getting into the action. The offense is the weak link but as long as they continue to grow the Chiefs are going to be very hard to beat.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Very valid points about the schedule. I still think .500 the rest of the way is very realistic, and 10-6 will make the playoffs in the AFC this year.

      • Calchiefsfan

        Even with some of these upcoming games being tough and a couple of down games along the way I would still be surprised if we only won 10 games. We caught a break with Locker being out next week. He has been playing very well. Oakland is at Arrowhead so we could, (should), very well be 6-0 when we face a very tough Houston on their turf. I’m hoping by then our o line has come together and our tight ends are back. We should be seeing a lot more of Bowe as the offense develops as well.

        Did you see where Peter King has us at #4 on his fine fifteen. Wow! I don’t get too excited about the power rankings but it is fun to see where the media puts us.

        • KCMikeG

          Houston is struggling dropping their last two games and the y play us at Arrowhead October 20th. The Sea of RED will tip the scales along with having Flowers, Allen, Fasano & Kelce back.

    • Suzi Conger

      Agree with you Ccf… I’ve been posting 11/12 wins ( subject to injury/health issues ) since April and taking some ‘trash’ for my opinion, lol . Were you a SF supporter in the past?

      • Calchiefsfan

        Always a Chiefs fan, though I did like SF when Montana was playing. Grew up in KC, moved to Cal in 1978. Back when there was a Rams 49′s rivalry going strong.

  • Larry Devore

    KC’s opponents records were 3-13, just like to point out that the broncos opponents record was I believe 4-12. so I don’t worry about what opponents records are. Go Chiefs.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Great work, Graversen! Alex Smith, Andy Reid, and Bob Sutton FTW (four of them)!

  • Mark Bustamante

    Great insight Lyle. I whole heartedly agree. Once we get into the playoffs ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. We still need to cut down on the penalties. Also once Bowe gets more touches Avery n McCluster will b even more of a threat. And who can forget THE BEARDED WONDER? What a great pick up. Dorsey is a genius.

  • ArrowFan

    I told a fellow fan last night that anything short of a playoff appearance is going to be a major let down at this point.

  • Nemoi

    Special teams really deserve a spot on the list. We start with great field position and opponents generally get pinned inside the 20.

    • Nemoi

      Guess you did mention special teams. See, I said it was a well thought out article.

  • ladner morse

    Lyle, you forgot to mention… in Pioli we trust… the biggest reason of all…. because most of the players here are the one’s he brought in right… no? … oh… wait……. NEVER MIND.

    It really is truly amazing the amount of turn over in the roster that Dorsey has created… I mean come on man, a 60% new roster…. and obviously, not for the sack of change alone — that would be his predecessor.

    Great piece Lyle. I can’t wait for the top ten reasons the Chiefs will go to the Super Bowl.

  • Dennis Dale Allen

    Good, sober article Lyle. I think you are spot on with everything you wrote ! GO Chiefs !