December 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Sean McGrath (84) celebrates with quarterback Alex Smith (11) and tight end Dominique Jones (46) against the Oakland Raiders during the third quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Five Keys to Victory: Chiefs vs. Raiders Follow Up

Week 15 has come and gone, Addicts and the Chiefs came away with a playoff berth for the first time since 2010. The best part was, they did it without relying on another team to lose. They went out and won the game, clinching the berth on their own. Yesterday before the game we broke down the things the Chiefs would need to do in order to secure a victory. Let’s go back and see how they did. As always, my original comments are in normal type and my follow-up comments are in bold.

Key #1: Special Teams Needs Another Special Day

With punt returner Dexter McCluster out of the game after his spectacular 177 total return yards and one touchdown performance last Sunday against the Washington Redskins, the next man up — likely Quintin Demps — will have to step up. Many think a return is a return is a return, but the mechanics behind a punt return and a kickoff return are quite different. This phase is a game changer for the Chiefs and will need to show up today.

While the special teams didn’t find the end zone like last week, they did a great job of setting up the offense with terrific field position. Quintin Demps 50 yard return to start the game set Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles up perfectly to score on the first play of the game. In all, the special teams contributed every bit as much as the rest of this football team to secure the win and clinch the playoff spot.


Key #2: The Pass Rush Will Need to Pick Up Where it Left Off

After taking a mini-vacation from sacking the quarterback — one that lasted from Week 8 until last week, really — the Chiefs pass rush is back. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton dialed up some great blitz packages last Sunday in our nation’s capitol and was able to hit the Washington Redskins’ quarterbacks a total of six times. He’ll need to dig into that bag of tricks and find some more of that magic today. While the Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin is an undrafted rookie, he’s shown some affinity for throwing touchdowns when given time. It’s up to Tamba Hali and company to ensure he doesn’t have that time.

I have never seen a team go so hot and cold in one aspect of the game as much as this defense in regards to sacking the quarterback. For the first seven games, the D was unstoppable. Then they went cold. Then last week they got to the QB six times. This week, they weren’t even able to breathe on Matt McGloin or Terrel Pryor. The Chiefs defense and especially their coordinator Bob Sutton need to figure out a way to fix this before the playoffs.


Key #3: Start Fast

Even when the Chiefs were on their magical 9-0 run, one of the things they were unable to do was start fast. More often than not their first drive or two or three ended with a three-and-out. However, they seem to be getting better at getting the offense moving right out of the gate. I would love to see an opening drive for a TD today, but I’d settle for any points on the board after the opening possession.

Is it considered an “opening drive” when it only takes one play to get you in the end zone? The Chiefs started fast and didn’t stop. In fact, this was probably the Chiefs fastest start of the season. They wasted absolutely no time in scoring after the huge Quintin Demps return that set them up on the 50 yard line. By the time the game clock showed 14:38 in the first quarter, the Chiefs were up 7-0.


Key #4: Increase That Turnover Ratio

Bad teams give the ball away. Good teams force those turnovers. The Raiders are a bad team and the Chiefs are a good team. This should be the perfect recipe for this Chiefs team to increase that turnover ratio. The Chiefs have guys who can intercept the ball, and working against the aforementioned undrafted, rookie quarterback, that shouldn’t be difficult.

This is almost laughable. All in all, the Chiefs defense had a bit of down day. But you’d never know if you look at the turnovers. The Chiefs defense created seven takeaways from the Chiefs. Derrick Johnson, Frank Zombo and Ron Parker all recorded interceptions on the day, with Eric Berry getting two of them and taking one to the house. In addition to that, Hakeem Abdullah and Tamba Hali both recovered fumbles. While the Chiefs did give away a turnover on a rare Alex Smith fumble, they still ended the day at +6 in the turnover category. That’s good enough for the league lead.


Key #5: Don’t Take Your Foot Off the Gas

Last week the Chiefs kept scoring points, regardless of what the Redskins were doing. This isn’t youth league football. There is no rule that says you shouldn’t run up the score in the interest of good sportsmanship. If a good team plays a bad team, the good team should keep scoring as much and as often as possible. I don’t care if it’s second or even third-stringers dancing in the endzone, but I want to see scoring and a lot of it.

I guess I asked for it. I said I wanted scoring and lots of it. I got it. The Chiefs scored the most points of any team in a single game this season. Alex Smith threw five touchdown passes, a career best for him. Four of those were to Jamaal Charles, an NFL record for a running back. Smith also hit tight end Sean “The Beard” McGrath for a late score and the rookie Knile Davis found the end zone for a second straight week. Even when the Chiefs slipped in the third quarter and let the Raiders get within four points after scoring three unanswered touchdowns, the game was never in question. This offense is just too explosive. Wow…did I just say that?


There you have it, Addicts. The Chiefs hit four of the five keys we laid out for them and it was good for a win against the hated rival Oakland Raiders as well as a playoff berth. Damn that feels good to say. Up next, the Indianapolis Colts. I say bring ‘em on!

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