Jan 1, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) passes against the San Diego Chargers during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
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The Chiefs are on their bye, but there’s much to watch for this Wild Card weekend. Who will the Chiefs face in Arrowhead this next weekend? Find out here.
The Chiefs are currently sitting pretty on their first playoff bye since 2003. Andy Reid gave both players and coaches this week off to rest after a hard-fought fourth quarter of the season. Remember that the Chiefs were one of the first teams to have a bye week, all the way back in Week 5. The rest was well earned with players like Justin Houston, Spencer Ware, and Dontari Poe suffering injuries over the last few weeks.
So who are our possible opponents come next Sunday? The Chiefs as the No. 2 seed play the highest remaining seed from the Wild Card round.
The Steelers beat the Dolphins and the Chiefs would play the Steelers.
The Dolphins beat the Steelers and the Raiders beat the Texans the Chiefs would play the Raiders.
The Dolphins beat the Steelers and the Texans beat the Raiders the Chiefs would play the Texans.
The Dolphins as the sixth seed can not play the Chiefs unless they beat the Steelers and the Patriots to meet the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. As you can see above the odds are we face the Steelers. So lets take a quick look at all the possible matchups.
Chiefs vs. Raiders: Round 3
In Week 6 and Week 14 the Chiefs beat the Raiders both times for a combined 47-23. However, this time around Derek Carr would not be available. Carr broke his fibula during their week 16 contest against the Indianapolis Colts.
Matt McGloin took over and then injured his shoulder during Week 17 against the Denver Broncos. Should the Raiders manage to beat the Texans it’s very possible rookie quarterback Connor Cook would be making his second career start against the Chiefs. The rookie fourth rounder will face the top total defense and second-ranked pass defense in the NFL against the Texans. How well Cook performs will tell us a lot about how a possible third matchup may go should we see the Raiders again.
Probably the best thing about us getting a first round bye is that we have an extra week of rest and preparing time against teams we’ve already faced before. Chiefs vs. Texans would be a Week 2 rematch in which the Chiefs played one of their worst offensive games of the season.
Smith was sacked four times and completed just 54 percent of his passes for 186 yards and zero touchdowns. DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller both contributed a 100+ yard game for the Texans. Cairo Santos kicked for four field goals to give the Chiefs all 12 of their points scored.
But a matchup this time around would likely not end the same way. There’s currently no guarantee we would see Brock Osweiler again as he was benched in Week 15 for Tom Savage. Savage got injured in Week 17 and Osweiler is slated to start this weekend during the Wild Card round.
The biggest change in the Chiefs offense that could make the difference is Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Both players appeared to not make as much of an impact early in the season, and recorded just 41 yards on seven receptions and one rush combined. Kelce and Hill are now the Chiefs No. 1 and No. 2 offensive weapons respectively with 814 total yards and four touchdowns on offense alone since Week 13.
Oct 2, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) sacks Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) during the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 43-14. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Chiefs vs. Steelers: Round 2
I’ve saved the best for last. A rematch of the Week 4 Sunday Night Football beatdown the Steelers handed the Chiefs. Two turnovers and a terrible punt put the Steelers in Chiefs territory for three quick touchdowns in the first quarter. By the end of the half the Steelers were up 29-0. By the end of the game the Chiefs managed just 14 points in garbage time to end 43-14.
Three of the Steelers scores were 30+ yard touchdown passes. The Chiefs killed themselves with turnovers and giving up big plays. Le’Veon Bell had 178 yards of total offense and Ben Roethlisberger ended the game 22/27 for 300 yards and five touchdowns. There’s no excuse for the defense who routinely allowed Ben to drive up and down the field.
Since the matchup the Chiefs have gained Terrance Mitchell as the cornerback opposite Marcus Peters, and Eric Berry has played his heart out. Peters ended the season against the Chargers with his best game of the season allowing just two catches on five targets with an interception.
On the offensive side of the ball, while Hill did manage five catches it was for just 24 yards. Since Week 8, Hill has not had less than 46 yards with at least five catches. It will also be interesting to see how the Chiefs would use Hill in the run game against the Steelers. Hill had one rush for -2 yards last time, but has had 10 rushes for 178 yards and two touchdowns over the last three weeks. Expect a completely different game plan offensively and defensively against the Steelers should they meet in round two.
So the question has to be asked. What would be your ideal matchup? Who do you think matches up best/worst against the Chiefs? Let me know in the comments, and thank you for reading.