Chiefs playoff opponents: Scary or not?
No matter what happens this weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs will be in the playoffs. The only questions are what seed they will be and who will they play.
The most likely first-round matchup would be against the Houston Texans. The Texans beat the Chiefs in Week 2 this year, 19-12. A lot has changed since then. On offense the team has changed quarterbacks. Brock Osweiler got benched for relatively unknown Tom Savage. On defense the team lost the best defensive player in the league when J.J. Watt went down with a season-ending back injury. Add to those issues starting running back Lamar Miller and defensive end Jadaveon Clowney are both dealing with injuries that have kept them out of many games to end the season.
This team barely beat the Chiefs in a revenge game that meant much more to the Texans. In a playoff game, the Chiefs will have the edge in coaching, talent and motivation. I would expect this game to be an easy win for Kansas City if it happens.
After that win the Chiefs would most likely be off to New England to once again face the Patriots. The Patriots are 27-1 at home under Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. That is not a statistic that would make any Chiefs fan feel excited about this game. But the Chiefs have experience in this game from last year.
They battled New England in a game that was closer than most people expected given all the Chiefs injuries. The Patriots rank fifth in scoring offense and first in scoring defense. This is not a good combination for the Chiefs. While I do believe the defense can slow down Brady without Rob Gronkowski, it will take Alex Smith’s greatest game to put enough points on the board.
I do think this would be a close game thanks to the defense, but the Chiefs would have to play mistake-free ball to pull out the win. If they could pressure Brady and control the ball on offense, then they could steal a win in Foxborough.
I’m sorry to any Dolphins and Raiders fans reading this article, but I can’t give you guys respect. Kansas City wouldn’t see the Dolphins until the AFC Championship game. Even if the defense pulled out some amazing games, the Dolphins offense under backup Matt Moore will make the Chiefs look like the “Greatest Show on Turf.” Losing Ryan Tannehill destroyed any real hopes the Dolphins had against teams like the Patriots, Steelers, or Chiefs.
The Raiders are in the same boat. Derek Carr’s broken leg ended the Super Bowl hopes and dreams of Raiders Nation. Oakland still has a chance to push some teams and make some noise because of its talent. Amari Cooper, Khalil Mack, Latavius Murray, and Michael Crabtree are all too good to ignore. But with Matt McGloin being in charge, all those players will have to be perfect to win. A young team with no playoff experience will now be depending on a quarterback making only his eighth NFL start.
That leaves the last and scariest team of the group, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers embarrassed the Chiefs in front of the nation on Sunday Night Football by beating them 43-14 back in October. The game wasn’t even as close as that score makes it seem. The defense had no answer for the Steelers offense.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley could call any play he wanted and it worked. Chiefs’ fans need to hope that Justin Houston would be back at full strength for that game because getting pressure on Big Ben is the only hope of slowing down that offense. The Steelers defense is nothing like the Steel Curtain we are use too. They are beatable and the Chiefs should be able to move the ball and score points.
But this game all comes down to strength vs strength. If the defense can control the Steelers offense so Andy Reid can keep the playbook open then he can work some magic. But if the Steelers are able to get a lead and make the Chiefs play catchup, we could be looking at another blowout like we saw in Week 4.
This is a good year for the Chiefs to be in the playoffs. There is no dominant team with a clear unstoppable path to the Super Bowl. I could write entire articles about how the Chiefs could win or lose to any team in the playoffs. The fact is this is the least predictable year for the playoffs that I can remember. So I’m not going to try to predict it. I’m ready to take this playoff run one game at a time and just enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.