This is a dangerous week. We're not as good as our 4-3 record and Miami is better than their 0-7 record. The KC Star sums up this up nicely: "Though their overall records may indicate otherwise, these teams aren't that far apart in terms of overall talent. The difference is the Chiefs have continually found ways to win during their resurgence, while the Dolphins come up with new and inventive ways to lose week in and week out."
Consider this: you hear an awful lot about the importance of turnovers from the KC camp. In the first two games, we committed 10 turnovers and our opponents massacred us 89-10. In the past two games, we created 10 turnovers and beat our opponents 51-20 (narrowly escaping with two wins). That terrifies me. If you can create that many TOs, you should be cruising to victories. Our offense is still finding itself; if it can, we'll be dangerous.
I'm relieved we're at home this week, I would predict a Dolphins victory if we were visiting them. But we should be able to overcome the short week, the emotional high from MNF, and the difficulties of showing up for an 0-7 team to ride the Arrowhead advantage to a tight 20-17 victory.
Keys to Victory...
- Start fast. Miami's morale is low. Kick the dog while it's down, don't give it a moment to bark and watch it cower into the sea of red. The flip side is that we definitely risk suffering a little hangover from the MNF miracle. In keeping with the dog metaphors, a little hair of the dog is just what we need -- get some points on the board quickly to keep the momentum from last game going and get the crowd pumped (we don't want the players to feel an anxious Arrowhead in the 4th quarter against an opponent they should beat).
- Stop Brandon Marshall. This guy killed us with the Broncos in the past, he simply has our number. The Chiefs' Brandons (Flowers and Carr) are having an unbelievable year and if they can continue to contain the pass with man coverage then we're in good shape on D as it will allow us to focus on stopping the run and raking in some serious sacks.
- Long drives. I don't know the stats, but I'd venture to state that we have fewer drives of 15 plays (heck, even 10 plays) this season than the Packers have had in a random single game this year. Let's target 3 drives of at least 10 plays and give our D some much deserved time off the field today.
- No big plays. Despite what I said about the Chiefs not being as good as our record and the Dolphins better than theirs, I still don't think that they can beat us on paper. This is a classic example of a "don't beat yourselves and you'll win the game" for the Chiefs. Specifically, I'll be looking for the Chiefs to: 1) catch INTs when the ball hits them in the hands (it will), 2) contain Steve Slaton on returns (we've been excellent on special teams this year, and need to continue winning that important aspect of the game), 3) commit no stupid penalties that extend drives on D or end drives on O, and 4) commit no turnovers.
As fans, we have the luxury of doing what players aren't allowed to: look ahead.
We've got a decent shot at the playoffs (which, given our slow start and injuries, would be a huge accomplishment). Here's how it would happen: we should win today, we should win next week, we should be 6-3 going into the most brutal stretch of any Chiefs season in my memory (and easily the toughest 5-game stretch of any team in the league this year). Heck, this week and next week are pretty much must-wins because I can't see us winning even two games during that 5-game stretch (and I'd put even money that we lose all 5 of them).
You'll think I'm crazy, but our best shots to steal a game will come against the two defending conference champs (Steelers and Packers) for two reasons: 1) we're at Arrowhead, 2) the opponents' schedules: the Steelers sandwich the visit to KC around Bengals games (divisional opponent who will play them tough and tire them out physically and mentally), and the Packers visit KC before visits to the Bears and Lions (in a division that I expect will be closer at the end of the season than it is now). If we can win our next 2 (to make us 6-3), pull out 1 of 5 during the killer stretch (to make us 7-7), then we're in a position to repeat as AFC West champs.
The final two weeks of the season are amazing in the AFC West, with all the contenders playing each other and the Chiefs definitely in the best position to close out the season with a pair of victories. Specifically, the Raiders play @ KC then host SD; the Chargers play @ Lions then @ OAK; the Chiefs host OAK then play @ DEN. If we win those last two, we'd be 9-7 and should boast the best divisional record. Got all that? In summary, Chiefs need to win the next two weeks, then last two weeks, and one game in between to rep the AFC West in the playoffs. Then, before you know it, we're hosting a playoff game at Arrowhead, where anything can happen!