The Chiefs season depends on how they respond to adversity

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Alex Smith
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Alex Smith /

The Kansas City Chiefs have recently lost a pair of games in heartbreaking fashion. Their ability to make a deep playoff run depends on their resilience.

Week 8 for the NFL starts on Thursday night with an AFC matchup between the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens. For the Kansas City Chiefs, they sit at 5-2 and questions abound. Namely, were the first five weeks of their 2017 campaign an aberration? It’s also possible the first month of the regular season was an authentic representation of what the Chiefs can be at their best. The past two weeks, despite injuries, questionable offensive/defensive scheming and a lack of execution indicate just how close the team is to its ceiling of possibility.

As disappointing as two straight losses—the first time since the 2015 season—have been for Chiefs Kingdom, it’s imprudent to count the Chiefs out of the race for the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of three straight, have taken over as the top seed in the conference, but head coach Andy Reid and company are just behind them in the two hole. There are still nine weeks left to play before the AFC playoff picture’s been set in stone. Kansas City still has a 1.5 game lead on the rest of the AFC West. A win over the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football and the Chiefs could put a strangehold on the division and all but guarantee themselves at least one home playoff game.

Rebounding from a two-game skid won’t be easy. The Denver Broncos laid an egg in a 21-0 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Odds are that the Chiefs will be facing a cornered team for the third-straight week. Given how soft the team’s played of late, that’s not encouraging. Fortunately for Kansas City, it can be said that they’re also a team with its back against the wall. Widening their slide to three consecutive losses would put the team behind the 8-ball in the AFC.

The Chiefs need to re-visit what they did best through the first five weeks of the season. Lately, they’ve become a sieve on defense. The Steelers appear to have written the book on how to take advantage of the defensive side of the football. The Denver Broncos, after a scoreless showing at the StubHub Center, will look to get back on track against what appears to be a porous Kansas City secondary (ranked 28th in the league against the pass).

Recently-injured cornerback Steven Nelson may be eligible to return for the MNF game against Denver, according to Reid, but it’s anyone’s guess about whether or not he can help stop the bleeding. Terrance Mitchell and Phillip Gaines were ruthlessly picked on by Ben Roethlisberger and Derek Carr. If Nelson can help shore up the slot, the Chiefs may be able to focus more attention on applying pressure up front. Their eight-man coverage schemes have had mixed results throughout the first half of the season.

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The offense remains one of the very best in the NFL, but their quest is one for consistency. Despite hanging 30 on the Raiders last week, there were certainly spots where the unit failed to produce in the most crucial situations. DeMarcus Robinson has flashed on a fairly regular basis as of late. Any offensive skill position player who can force defenses to play honest against their primary targets Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce is a bonus. Rookie phenom Kareem Hunt has had 100 yards from scrimmage in each contest in 2017 (an NFL record), but lately he’s gone a few games without a trip to paydirt.

Reid will have to find ways to ensure this offense shows up when it’s most critical for them to do so. Especially, with the league’s 9th-ranked scoring defense coming to town. Denver allows fewer than 20 points per game on average (19.7 per contest). Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton will also have to find some ingenuity if he’s to fix a wilting defense that once carried the team. With a much more potent offense, Kansas City’s defense doesn’t need to be stout, but it certainly has to be more opportunistic in key situations. Sutton’s bend-but-don’t-break defense had been working like a charm with consistent pressure and the ability to force turnovers. Sans those two attributes, it’s prime for the picking.

Time will tell if the Chiefs can weather the recent storm and right the ship. History suggests they’ll have an excellent opportunity. Reid’s winning percentages in the months of November and December are stellar. Kansas City has a faltering Broncos team coming to Arrowhead next Monday and a Dallas Cowboys team which could be without star running back Ezekiel Elliott. The schedule the following four weeks is much more favorable with matchups with the New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and a home rematch with the Oakland Raiders. The toughest of those two games slated for the cozy confines of Arrowhead Stadium.

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Can the Chiefs rebound and get their season back on track? Does the recent two-game losing streak concern you for Kansas City’s postseason future? Is the No. 1 seed still a realistic goal for this football team? Use the comment section below to weigh in. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.

Until next time, Addicts!