This Chiefs Team Will End Their Playoff WoesJanuary 11, 2019
By: Matthew Lippe, Football Analyst
With a win against the Colts on Sunday, Patrick Mahomes would cement his case as the NFL MVP and a Kansas City legend. But why would a game that feels to be in the Chiefs favor, have so many experts questioning the chiefs? Because the Chiefs have had a horrible playoff history over the past 24 years. Today, we will break down, why this Chiefs team will finally get the coveted playoff run that has eluded the franchise for decades.
The hashtag Chiefs fans are using for this playoff run is #breakthecycle. This hashtag refers to breaking the cycle of playoff losses the Chiefs have suffered. For instance, since the 1993 playoffs, the Chiefs are 0-6 in home playoff games and are 1-10 in all playoff games over that span. Further, in those 11 games, the Chiefs had 6 different QB’s consisting of an old Joe Montana, Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac, Trent Green, Matt Cassel, and Alex Smith. While quality starters, these 6 QB’s are not exactly QB’s one would expect to lead a team to the Super Bowl. However, this year’s Chiefs team does not face the same woes at quarterback position as in the past, as they finally have a young and talented franchise QB that can effectively lead a team: future MVP Patrick Mahomes. Everyone knows the stats (50 touchdowns, 5000 yards), but Patrick has shown the ability to come up clutch when it matters most. This really played out in the Ravens game, where on a 4th and 9, late in the 4th quarter, found a streaking Tyreek Hill for the first down, to keep the Chiefs drive alive. However no QB, no matter how talented, almost certainly needs some help to be able to advance in the playoffs.
Fortunately for the Chiefs, they have built a great core around Mahomes, beginning with the offensive line.
The offensive line does not stand out with stars, but that does not mean they are not effective. Mitchell Schwartz, Eric Fisher, and Mitch Morse have all had solid seasons, with Fisher being named to the Pro-Bowl. Further, the offensive line is filled with experienced players which is important for a team lead by a QB in his first playoff start. This experience should help ease some of the pressure off Mahomes, allowing him to focus on his throws, rather than the Colts defensive line.
The other key to any offense is the receivers. Once again, the Chiefs have plenty of different weapons that is an absolute headache for opposing defenses. The receiving core for the Chiefs is one that is deep with talent. To start, the Chiefs have the best tight-end in the NFL in Travis Kelce and top receiver in Tyreek Hill. These two set records this year while receiving passes from Patrick Mahomes and they catch the defenses eyes right off the bat. However, while Kelce and Hill stand out, the Chiefs have many other talents down the roster. For instance, backup tight-end Demetrius Harris stands an imposing 6’7 and can be a weapon in the red zone. Or take Demarcus Robinson, whose stats may not jump off the page, but can speed past defenders and make big time plays. Further, even though the running game is not what it was with Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs have found a quality running back in Damien Williams. He has shown great potential in his 3 games started this season.
Now, while offense is a key part to any team’s success, that’s only half the battle; the defense has to be to do their part. The defense is probably the biggest weakness for the Chiefs, but there are many components that have caused the Chiefs defense to being below average. One is that the secondary has been missing their leader in Eric Berry for most of the season. A key to the Chiefs defense not getting picked apart by Andrew Luck is Eric Berry on the field (Eric Berry has not been listed as playing of time of writing, but did practice this week). Without Berry, the Chiefs have allowed the second most passing yards per game. Another component is that the defense has had many various looks throughout this season. Week 16 is a great example of this, as head coach said he was trying out younger guys on the defense to see how if they could step up in the playoffs. While this was definitely a questionable decision by Reid at the time, this “experiment” allowed the Chiefs to figure out their depth- a key for the playoffs. One final component to the defenses woes has been stopping the run. The Chiefs allow the second most yards per carry in the NFL, and this will have to be different against the Colts, because opposing running back Marlon Mack can rack up yards in a hurry. However, while the defense as a whole has looked abysmal, the Chiefs can do one thing effectively on defense; pressuring the quarterback. For instance, Chris Jones, Dee Ford, and Justin Houston combined for a total of 37.5 sacks. This pressure can lead to costly mistakes by opposing QBs, which should help instill confidence in the defense as a whole. For the Chiefs defense to be successful, they will need pressure Andrew Luck and hopefully force some costly mistakes.
Many Chiefs fans have begun bringing up the infamous “Lin Elliot Game”, where the 1-seeded Chiefs lost to the Colts 10-7 after Chief’s kicker Lin Elliot missed 3 field goals, including a crucial kick in the closing moments of the game which would’ve sent the game to overtime. This memory still holds fresh with fans two decades later, and a melt down from special teams is the last thing any Chiefs fan would want to experience again. With this being said, the Chiefs should feel pretty safe with their kicker, Harrison Butker. Butker is usually pretty consistent, hitting 88% of his fields this year. Further, some critics may point out Week 14, where Butker missed a field goal that would’ve won the Chiefs the game. However, Butker redeemed himself in overtime hitting the game-winning field goal for the Chiefs. Finally, Chiefs fans should feel confident in their young kicker, as he shouldn’t make the same mistakes that may have plagued the Chiefs over two decades.
Chiefs Kingdom has faced many disheartening losses over the years, and there is no reason not to feel some anxiety going into the game, but this team is built to advance in the playoffs. They don’t have the same flaws that other Chief’s teams have had and they finally have the quarter back that lead a team in the playoffs. No matter what, come Saturday, Chiefs Kingdom will be ready for the home playoff victory that has long eluded them