The Chiefs Have To Prove They Can Win Their Way


I’m not going to say I predicted last week, but the result did not alarm me.

The Raiders had been playing tight in all of their games and they were due for a win. The Chiefs were on a 5-game win streak and were due for a loss. In particular, the Chiefs had just gouged out two tough wins in a row against rough-and-tumble opponents in Buffalo and at home to Seattle. Going on the road with just four days to prepare, the Chiefs showed how exhausted they were in the first half.

The biggest problem with the Chiefs’ sloppy opening 30 minutes against Oakland wasn’t so much the fact that they gave up 14 unanswered points, but that this threw a wrench in the way the Chiefs like to operate.

Nov 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) is pursued by Oakland Raiders linebacker Sio Moore (55) and safety Charles Woodson (24) on a 30-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter at Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chiefs 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not a part of the crowd that believes this team can’t get to the Super Bowl with Alex Smith at quarterback (just compare his stat line against Seattle to SF QB Colin Kaepernick’s from last night). But, it’s not all about him. This entire team from the O-line to the skill positions to the defensive scheme are built to gain and maintain a lead. Had the Chiefs been able to come back to win against the Raiders after being a total no-show in the first half, you could make the case for it being their best win of the season given the hole they’d put themselves in.

The Chiefs are the league’s 4th best rushing team by yardage and have two more rushing touchdowns than anyone else. The team also boasts the top pass defense and indeed one could make the case they’re the best overall defense in the league. This team is literally designed to force games to take a time machine back to the 70’s and I love it.

At this point, I almost hope a Chiefs wideout never catches a touchdown pass this year. If the Chiefs can fight through one of the league’s toughest schedules, come out of one of the league’s toughest divisions and go deep in the playoffs without the glamor passes that pundits claim you need to have in order to win in this league, it might actually start to change the one-note discussion about how to play this game.

It’s exactly for that reason that it’s important the Chiefs not take the wrong lessons from the Raiders aberration. With nine days of rest, they can go out and prove again to themselves and the league that they can run on anyone, they can shut down anyone and they can beat anyone.

To administer this lesson, I can’t think of a better matchup than the national media darling Broncos coming into an Arrowhead even more emotional than usual due to Eric Berry’s apparent diagnosis of lymphoma earlier this week.

It will be the defensive backfield – a unit Berry has led as captain practically since he signed in KC – that will be asked to step up the most on Sunday. Expect them to fight harder than anyone else to get the win for EB.

Oct 19, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Ron Parker (38) breaks up a pass intended for San Diego Chargers wide receiver Eddie Royal (11) in the final seconds of the game at Qualcomm Stadium. Chiefs won 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

If they can turn in the gutsy performance I expect, the Chiefs will have this one in the bag. DEN QB Peyton Manning is at his worst when facing three down lineman. Against three defenders on the line and the rest in coverage, Manning has thrown for 3 TD’s, 2 INT’s and taken 4 sacks with an 84.4 passer rating. Manning also plays his worst ball in the 4th quarter, where he has 5 TD’s, 3 INT’s and 3 sacks on the season.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs excel in defensive packages that leave just two or three defenders on the line, and this team has owned the 4th quarter. At Arrowhead, KC is currently allowing an average of just 2.6 points to opponents in the 4th quarter.

There are few things quite so satisfying in this sport as seeing a physical team manhandle a finesse team, and that is exactly what I expect to be watching from the 30 yard-line Sunday night.

That’s right! I’m back in town and country and the first order of business is introducing my wife to the fanatical BBQ-eating, Raider-hating extremists that inhabit Chiefs Kingdom. Hit me up in the comments if you’re going to be tailgating the game, we’d love to stop by!