Chiefs should be considered serious AFC contender

The Kansas City Chiefs have solidified themselves as contenders in the AFC. Injuries have been a question so far, but the Chiefs need to get healthy soon to stay in contention.

It hasn’t been an easy season. Sometimes you think they’re a Super Bowl contender. Sometimes you wonder, “How on earth can this team field go .500?”

That’s been the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016. They’ve been stellar, most of the time. But as we saw in Sunday’s 19-14 win against Jacksonville, the Chiefs have some vulnerability.

The Chiefs were hit with some hard injuries last week before the home game against the Jaguars. Alex Smith was healthy enough to play, but the organization felt it was in his best interest to keep him out. Spencer Ware was concussed and couldn’t go.

When head coach Andy Reid was asked about Ware’s availability for this weekend, the head coach said that “there’s a good chance” that the running back could be Sunday’s starter in the backfield. “He has to pass all the protocol,” Reid said.

Jeremy Maclin suffered a groin injury early in the first quarter that left him sidelined for the remainder of the game. Travis Kelce was ejected in the fourth quarter for inexcusably throwing a towel at an official.

Even after all of the adversity the Chiefs faced leading up to and during the game, they still came away with a win.

Smith will be under center Sunday afternoon at Carolina. Ware and Maclin’s availability is still up in the air, but Kansas City is expecting to get linebacker Justin Houston back soon. Reid has maintained that they will be careful with getting Houston, who has missed all of 2016 with a non-functioning ACL rehab program, back to game-ready.

Getting Houston back would be huge for the Chiefs defense. Pro Football Focus ranks the Chiefs defense as ninth-best in the NFL. The addition of Houston could help leapfrog the unit to a top-five defense.

We saw what the Chiefs have in Nick Foles last weekend against Jacksonville. He’s an average (at best) league quarterback when he’s a starter. However, he is a valuable asset that the Chiefs should feel lucky to have as a backup to Smith.

The Chiefs have a tough schedule moving forward, but the results should help us learn a little more about this team.

Upcoming Schedule

11/13
11/20
11/27
12/4
12/8

Although Carolina has not been what they were last year, the Panthers are still defending Super Bowl champions. Tampa Bay follows that game at Arrowhead.

Come Nov. 27, though, a touch matchup looms with the Denver Broncos on the road. Denver, Oakland and the Chiefs all figure to be competitive in the AFC West division. There’s no guessing what could happen in this division.

The Dec. 8 home game against the Raiders on Thursday Night Football figures to be one of the biggest games of the season for Kansas City. If the Chiefs lose prior to Oakland, my guess is it would be aginst Denver on the road.

The Chiefs are a solid, competitive football team. We saw what injuries can do to this squad. Every game matters throughout the rest of the way, because the AFC West will likely produce at least one Wild Card winner.

It’s going to be a long, wild ride the rest of the way. Get ready Chiefs Kingdom.

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