Chiefs winning, but still improvement to be made

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Dec 27, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs free safety Eric Berry (29) celebrates against the Cleveland Browns in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won the game 17-13. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

When the Kansas City Chiefs plays in January they will be coming off the second nine-game winning streak of Andy Reid’s short coaching career in Kansas City. He will also be a week away from taking the Chiefs to the playoffs for two out of three years and has yet to have a losing season while coaching Kansas City.

While this is something that Chiefs fans have wanted for much of the last decade, the team still has areas in which it must improve to move past just making it back to the playoffs.

On Sunday, the Chiefs allowed a bad Cleveland team to hang around and then come close to winning the game in the final seconds. Kansas City has gone up early in the last two games and taken its foot off the gas too early. It has yet to come back and haunt the Chiefs, but it will cause them trouble in the playoffs. The Chiefs have to find a way to close out teams when they get up in the game early without letting them come back.

The Chiefs offense has looked extremely pedestrian in the second half of the past two games and that is something that I am beginning to think is not a coincidence. Kansas City may be playing close to their vest figuring their competition doesn’t have the ability to come back on their defense. The problem with this philosophy is that it allows competition to stick around and make games much closer than they need to be. It’s also a bigger issue when the offense looks out of sync; if the Chiefs don’t come out firing against Oakland on Sunday they will lose at home.

While the Chiefs offense couldn’t move the ball much in the second half they were able to get enough passing yards to get Jeremy Maclin over 1,000 receiving yards. Maclin becomes the first receiver that Alex Smith has had in his career to go over 1,000 yards. Smith also set a personal high in passing yardage at 3,330 yards for the season. He will need to do more if the Chiefs want to go deep into the playoffs, but he has done enough to help Kansas City get there.

Generally speaking, all of it will probably work provided the Chiefs get Justin Houston and Tamba Hali back. Dee Ford has the speed to beat most tackles but until he develops other moves he will be limited in his effectiveness. Frank Zombo is a good backup that is great on special teams but he does not bring enough pressure off the edge to make up for not having Hali or Houston.

Next: Going into Week 17...