Last year at this time, everyone was talking about how the Chiefs were finally going to be able to break the playoff curse. Decades of futility rested on the shoulders of the 53 men and coaches who would take the field for the Chiefs. Except I don’t believe the curse was ever true.
This year, I thought I’d take a stab at another bit of conventional wisdom that grinds my gears.
I’m hearing a lot of people talk about the playoffs as if the games are somehow different.
To win in the playoffs you have to be able to ______ (run the ball, stop the run, throw deep, etc)
You have to have an elite ____ to win a Super Bowl (QB, coach, defense, etc)
That might work in the regular season, but don’t try it in the playoffs. (Hungry Pig Right/Flight/Bloated Tebow)
Spoiler alert: You know what you need to do in the playoffs to win the Super Bowl? Win. Score one more point than the other guy, each week, until there are no more games left to play. I can see eyes rolling and annoyed sighs from some of you, and I get it. I’m Captain Obvious here.
Stay with me, though. Stats don’t matter. You don’t have to hold your opponent below 200 yards rushing, or below 300 yards passing. (It helps, of course) You don’t have to score 44 points each week (doesn’t hurt either). Style doesn’t matter either. You don’t have to start using more trick plays or sling the ball all over the field. You don’t need an elite running game. You don’t have to have an elite QB, though you may have to beat one.
Yes, the opponents may be tougher ... but they might not be either. The Chiefs beat several of these playoff teams this season and last. Every team has flaws. Oakland, Houston and Miami are or were without their starting QBs. New England is without Gronk. The Chiefs won games against great QBs, great defenses and great RBs en route to a 12-4 record this season.
NFL coaches and players say it’s a little faster and more intense in the playoffs. I buy that. I’m not saying the playoffs aren’t a big deal. They are. I’m saying that you don’t have to do anything drastically different to win in the playoffs as compared to the regular season.
If it’s faster ... execute what you do best, just do it a bit faster. If it’s more intense ... be the best, most intense version of yourself.
You don’t need a perfect team, or even be the better team in each week’s matchup. The best team doesn’t always win. You just have to win in those three hours on that day. Any given Sunday (or Saturday) holds true even on the biggest stage.
This Chiefs team doesn’t carry the burden of every other team before it, or the heavy hearts of fans. They are charged with one thing: Winning. Everything else is just hyperbole for us fans and bloggers to entertain ourselves.
OK, rant over. Let’s talk about what this Chiefs team needs in order to win the Super Bowl.
- They need to be an opportunistic, ball-hawking defense.
- They need to be strong on special teams. They need to feature an All-Pro returner that’s a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball.
- They need an improved, mobile offensive line with bookend tackles that can execute the offense and at least not ruin their chances for offensive success.
- They need a coach that knows how to win and how game plan, especially given an extra week to prepare.
- They need a tight end that’s basically unstoppable when he gets the ball and that can make key blocks for his teammates.
- They need the fastest player in the NFL to make an impact on offense, whether he’s a decoy or running, going deep or taking screen passes the distance. Yes, I mentioned this guy twice, but he’s that much of a difference-maker.
- They need a corner that makes QBs afraid to throw in his direction, and that will make teams pay when they do.
- They need an inspirational safety that can not only motivate his teammates, but can be an enforcer and playmaker on the field.
- They need the mental toughness that comes from being able to overcome good QBs, big leads and devastating injuries, and still come back to win games.
- They need pass rushers that can create quick pressure on a regular basis, and at least force key incompletions (and turnovers) on passing downs. (Bunches of QB sacks are nice too)
- They need a veteran WR that knows how to run routes, get open, catch the ball and deliver a block 30 yards down field to spring your tight end.
- They need unselfish role players on all three phases that excel in those jobs, however inconsequential they may seem. “Do your job.”
- They need a culture where they consider each other family. A locker room where they don’t point fingers when things are going badly.
- They need to play with personality, confidence, swagger and fun.
- They need a special athlete at nose tackle that wants the ball on the goal line and can score in a variety of ways.
- They need a QB that can:
- Take care of the football
- Get the ball out quick
- Get the ball in the hands of his playmakers with some accuracy
- Be a threat to run the ball, and pick up first downs and TDs as needed
- Take a couple of deep shots every game
In short, they need to be the Kansas City Chiefs.
Pick your cliche:
Ride the horse that brought you here
Dance with the girl who brought ya
Play your own game, do what you do best
Each week in the NFL is just another game, even the weeks in January and February. Win this week, get the chance to play next week. Win next week, and you get one more game. Win that last one, and you’ve made history. But don’t think about history until after that last game. Just do your job, each week. And win.