Chiefs peaking for stretch run into Playoffs
KANSAS CITY, MO – DECEMBER 8: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill
The Kansas City Chiefs have played 10 solid quarters and counting. They’ll need to keep that streak alive if they want to solidify a hold on a first round bye and playoff game in Arrowhead stadium.
That progression deserves taking a deeper look into the details.
Two and a half games is a solid run but it’s not proof they can sustain that success and keep heading in the right direction. They’ll have to continue to do just that in light of the mounting list of players on injured reserve. The team continues to press onward and upward despite being hit with an onslaught of injuries of both the catastrophic and lingering types.
Derrick Johnson is the latest in a long string of Chiefs’ Pro Bow-caliber players that have had to miss time this season. That trend of season-ending injuries has forced a large number of young players to step into bigger roles and more playing time. The Chiefs have the luxury of depth, thanks to the roster that John Dorsey has built in Kansas City. They will need it.
Mike Renner, Senior Analyst at ProfootballFocus.com joins us on the show today to look at those players and their growing impact on the Chiefs’ performance. Check out the show and hit the links below to subscribe.
This is the critical time for this team. Andy Reid has to work to keep this team focused on the three games that are ahead of them to close out the regular season. Any could be a potential tripping point. With such a varied group of backups, rookies and unheralded players seeing time on the field, there is still danger in facing the Titans, Broncos, and Chargers.
With the veteran leadership in this locker room, expect them to not let up. Expect them to be focused on the goal. It’s been a long time since the Chiefs hosted a playoff game.
Chiefs Offensive momentum is building through Air
Alex Smith has been on a good run. Smith has been noticeably less averse to taking risks. He’s throwing the ball with more aggression into smaller windows. That is a much-needed shot in the arm of the passing offense.
His receivers have been making some difficult catches. They have been attacking the defenses as well. Against Oakland, Smith pushed his yards per completion to a season-high over at 15 ypc. Despite the cold, that is an average on par with the NFL’s top quarterbacks.
Tyreek Hill’s progression is turning heads. He now leads the team with six receiving touchdowns. That is double the number of touchdown catches for tight end Travis Kelce. Hill has been steadily improving his game on offense while maintaining his performance on special teams. He was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week Wednesday. Smith and Hill are forming a formidable duo just at the right time.
Can the defense hold up down the stretch?
The defense, on the other hand, is having to hold on and plug holes in the lineup. At this point in the season, the unit is missing five starters. Playing without Derrick Johnson is the biggest disadvantage the defense has currently. His Pro Bowl level play will be impossible to replace.
The team’s leadership has faith in the inside linebackers it has on the roster. After working out multiple free agent options at the position, none have been signed to the roster. There is a risk going forward with D.J. Alexander and Terrance Smith. Already a suspect run defense, inexperience will expose it further.
On the backend of the defense, Philip Gaines has not been able to return to his pre-injury level. In his absence against Oakland, Terrance Mitchell put down a solid performance. He provides a third viable corner to go with Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson. Gaines wasn’t able to practice Wednesday. If he’s not healthy enough to play, the team will rely on Mitchell to stand in. the Denver game on Christmas day will be the biggest test for the secondary as they look to close out the season. Mitchell could play a critical role as the team chases the #1 seed.
It’s going to be another cold game. Stay warm out there and enjoy the game, Addicts!
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