Why Chiefs WON’T make the playoffs

Jan 9, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) during the AFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) during the AFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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As we truly hit the dead zone of the NFL calendar, it’s time to take a look at some possible issues, and discuss things that may or may never happen.

For the next couple weeks, as the rest of the staff discusses why the Kansas City Chiefs will make the playoffs, we’ll explore issues that could arise that would keep the Chiefs out of the playoffs and tasting the ever sweet nectar of the postseason.

This week, we’ll start with injuries. Easy, sure, but important none the less.

Obviously, we’ll start with the current situation of Justin Houston and Jamaal Charles. As far as anyone knows, Houston has not worked out in any form this offseason and Charles has been very limited thus far. There is no real reason to rush Charles, and it certainly appears Houston is headed towards the Physically Unable to Perform list and will mist at least the first six weeks of the season.

It should be noted that the Chiefs were very successful with both players missing last season. Do I believe they won the games because they were gone? No. But, when the Chiefs release Charles after the season as they try to get under the salary cap, remember the 2015 season.

The issue with both players will be their ability to return to form, and if they do at all. Charles’ greatest asset is his ability to accelerate and burst getting up field. Obviously, this is Charles’ second knee repair, so it’s something worth keeping an eye on.

Houston will be a more interesting watch. In terms of just pure pass rush, he’s far and away the best on the team. With what certainly appears to be a wasted spot on Dee Ford and the decline of Tamba Hali, Houston is the component that makes the defense go.

If Houston misses the first half the season, what he looks like the second half of the season will be very important. If it takes him the whole 2016 season to get back to his normal form, thus being less then 100 percent, that could spell trouble for the Chiefs.

Along the hypothetical route, if Alex Smith is seriously injured or is forced to miss any significant time, that’s a death knell to the Chiefs hopes. While Smith isn’t an elite quarterback, this roster is good enough, with him under center, to compete to win every week. If someone other than Smith is under center, well, we saw what happened with Tyler Palko and bunch of merry men the previous regime trotted out to play quarterback. Ugly.

Summation

The Houston injury bears watching, as one wonders what will happen with Hali and Ford forced into action on a regular basis. Ford has not shown he can be anything more than a special teamer  while Hali showed what certainly appeared to be a player on his last leg. This defense, especially with the questions in the backfield, will have to force consistent pressure to truly contend. If they are unable to do so, this defense will look rather ugly.

The offense could survive without Charles, but you certainly don’t want to. Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware were not asked to carry the load for much of the first half of the season, so there are serious questions if the players can carry the freight for the full duration of a campaign.

Next week, we’ll discuss possible regression and age catching up with the Chiefs.