For Chiefs fans, there’s still plenty to watch for in NFL playoffs this weekend
Your Kansas City Chiefs earned a first-round bye in the NFL playoffs, and that’s impressive. (But I still don’t know why some people wanted to lose the AFC West and play Houston in the first round.)
Since the Chiefs don’t play until Jan. 15, you might be thinking that there isn’t much to care about this weekend. That’s not true, though. The next opponent for one of the most important games in recent franchise history plays football this weekend.
Here’s what we do know: Kansas City plays at Arrowhead Stadium on Jan. 15 at 12:05 p.m. CT. What we don’t know, though, is who the Chiefs will play.
As the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs, the Chiefs could play one of three teams: the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans or Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs have played all three teams this season, but it hasn’t always been pretty.
To get you prepared for who the Chiefs might play, let’s take a look at what to watch for in both AFC playoff games this weekend.
Saturday, Jan. 7: (5) Oakland at (4) Houston, 3:35 p.m. CT, ESPN/ABC
It’s not likely that the Chiefs will play either of these teams in the divisional round, but the matchup is worth taking a look at. This game might be a tad ugly to watch, though. Both teams come limping into the playoffs with serious question marks at the quarterback position.
The Raiders’ Matt McGloin, who has thrown only 15 passes this season, may not play Saturday due to a left shoulder injury. Third-stringer rookie Connor Cook may be thrown into his first career NFL start in the playoffs.
Throughout much of this year, the Raiders (11-5) have relied on Derek Carr to lead them on offense. After an injury sidelined him on Christmas Eve for the rest of the season, the Raiders are much less lethal on offense. The Chiefs were 2-0 this season against the Raiders, outscoring them 47-23.
The Texans (9-7) face the same amount of question marks coming into the playoffs. Tom Savage started the team’s final regular season game (a loss at Tennessee), but suffered a concussion and Bill O’Brien said Tuesday that Brock Osweiler will start Saturday’s playoff game.
Osweiler was the starter for Houston for much of the year, but some bad and inconsistent play forced O’Brien to make a change. Osweiler threw for 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in the regular season and finished the team’s final game of the season Sunday.
In Houston’s Week 2 matchup against the Chiefs, Osweiler threw for 268 yards and two interceptions. The Texans won that game, though, by a score of 19-12. It was one of worst performances for the Chiefs this season, but most would agree that Kansas City has improved since Week 2.
The Texans and Raiders played each other in Week 11. The Raiders won the game, which was played in Mexico City, 27-20. Carr shined in that one, throwing for three touchdowns.
Oakland and Houston are similar in rushing statistics this year. Both teams average about 120 rushing yards per game and about 4 yards per rush attempt. The Raiders have the edge in getting to the end zone, though. Oakland has scored 17 rushing touchdowns, while the Texans have punched the ball in just eight times on the ground.
Sunday, Jan. 8: (6) Miami at (3) Pittsburgh, 12:05 p.m. CT, CBS
The Miami Dolphins come into the postseason with question marks facing their quarterback position, as well. After Ryan Tannehill went down with a leg injury in Week 14, the Dolphins (10-6) turned to Matt Moore to lead the team down the stretch. Moore filled in nicely, with eight touchdowns and a 2-1 record.
There are reports that Tannehill could return this weekend for the team’s game at Pittsburgh. That would be huge news for the Dolphins (and the Chiefs). Kansas City would love to have the Texans or Raiders come into Arrowhead on Jan. 15 instead of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It won’t be an easy task for the Dolphins at Heinz Field, regardless of who is playing quarterback. The Steelers are always tough to beat, and it seems that it becomes a touch harder in the postseason.
But Tannehill could provide a spark for the Dolphins in Pittsburgh. He finished the season with career-highs in completion percentage (67.1), yards per attempt (7.7) and passer rating (93.5).
It’s likely though that the Chiefs will end up facing the Steelers two Sundays from now, and we all saw what happened in Week 4 when Pittsburgh stomped the Chiefs 43-14 on national television.
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Obviously, conditions would be different in a Chiefs and Steelers rematch. Alex Smith has played some decent football down the stretch. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have emerged as the go-to weapons on offense. Best of all, the game would be at home for the Chiefs.
There are all sorts of speculation about what could happen this weekend. No matter what happens, just be glad you get a week off from watching the “Cardiac Chiefs” and you’re two wins away from a Super Bowl appearance. Have fun, relax and enjoy some NFL playoff football.
As always, thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page to keep up with all the latest Chiefs news and discussions.