Nov 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) on his sidelines late in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Reid's Chiefs Will Be Battle-Tested Come Playoff Time

The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs may not make it to the Super Bowl this season but they will make the playoffs and will be the most battle-tested Chiefs team to enter the postseason since the 90s.

Andy Reid’s Chiefs have yet to win a big game. The closest thing the 2013 squad has had to a big win was when it went into Philadelphia early in the season and beat the Eagles in a charged and hostile environment in front of a national audience. It was a nice win but let’s not kid ourselves; the Eagles team the Chiefs beat in September was not the same Eagles team that has rolled to four straight victories on the arm of QB Nick Foles. If the Chiefs had to go to Philly this Sunday, the result may very well be different.

Reid’s Chiefs are still in search of their signature victory.

But let’s not get it twisted, as former Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards was fond of saying. These Chiefs are a good football team with a good coach. They’ve earned every one of their nine victories and short of a collapse of epic proportions, they’ll make the playoffs. Considering the next best Wild Card team has six losses, the Chiefs merely need to eek out one more victory to all but guarantee their place in the postseason. That win is likely coming this weekend.

Good as the Chiefs are, however, they’ve failed three big tests in a row. They’ve shown that while they are certainly talented enough to win against the likes of Case Keenum and Jeff Tuel, that beating QBs the caliber of Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers is a bit more challenging.

While I am sure it doesn’t make Chiefs fans feel confident about the team’s playoff chances, the last three losses were probably a good thing for the team’s championship aspirations.

The mere fact that the Chiefs have lost the last three weeks does not mean that the team has not gotten better. The challenge of facing Manning and Rivers has forced the Chiefs’ offense to come out of its shell. Denver and San Diego don’t exactly have the toughest defenses in the NFL but up until a few weeks ago, the KC offense was pathetic no matter  which team it was playing. Now, it seems as though the Alex Smith-led KC offense has the firepower to compete in a shootout against the likes of Manning, Rivers and Brady.

Unfortunately, the Chiefs’ defense has gone the other way. Manning and Rivers have exposed the fact that the 2013 Chiefs defense is not, in fact, the second coming of the ’85 Bears.

That’s ok.

Football is a game of adjustments and the Chiefs are learning what their defense can and can’t do. They can play an aggressive style of press man coverage against lesser opponents and get away with it.

But they can’t play that way against Peyton Manning.

The KC coaching staff is now armed with more knowledge about their players and their schemes. They’ve had two cracks against Peyton Manning and failed but the good news is, if they learned from those games, they very well make get a third crack at the future Hall of Famer.

The fact that the Chiefs have now been tested against superior opponents doesn’t mean they they will magically be able to beat those opponents. But it does mean that the will be better prepared the next time they get a chance.

The Chiefs have two games remaining against playoff caliber opponents. KC will face Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers before the season’s end. While San Diego may not qualify for the postseason, their absence from the tournament will likely not be blamed on Rivers. KC will play San Diego on the road in the season finale. Since it appears the Chiefs will be a Wild Card team, a road game against a good QB will be just the kind of study session the team needs before heading to the postseason.

If the 2013 Chiefs fail to win a playoff game, it won’t be because they weren’t tested.

It will be because they just weren’t good enough.

 

 

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