Playoffs? You want to talk about playoffs? As mentioned earlier this week by a fellow Chiefs 360 writer, the Chiefs are just one game away from securing a playoff spot, with either a win or Baltimore and Miami loss. If last week is any indication, the Chiefs don’t want to put this in the hands of Baltimore or Miami, and would like to take matters into their own hands. The only thing standing in there way, an old friend, division rival Oakland Raiders.
The Chiefs took care of their division rival 24-7 in week 6, en route to their 9-0 start to start off the year. Although on paper it looked like the Chiefs controlled that contest, Kansas City needed 44 yard interception return late in the game by Husain Abdullah to take the game 24-7. Andy Reid and company were matched or beat by Oakland in almost every statistical category, except the turnover margin where the Chiefs were able to get 3 takeaways as opposed to Oakland’s 2. Don’t expect the Raiders to be as giving, although we approach the holidays. Even at 4-9 and last in the division, the Raiders would love to beat their division rival to keep the Chiefs out of the playoffs for another week.
Don’t worry Chiefs fans, I have the perfect formula for Andy Reid and company to return back home with not only another game to put in the win column, but a playoff berth as well. This is my “Three Keys to Victory” this weekend in the Coliseum against those dreaded “RAIDERS” (Cue Chris Berman voice).
1. Get Alex Smith going
I admit I have been a victim of tagging Alex with the “Game-Manger” title through the course of the season. But as the calendar flipped to November, no player on this Chief’s offense has been hotter and more important than the man under center. Since starting off the season 9-0, the Chiefs have taken 3 of the last 4 losses but none of that falls on the shoulders of Smith for he has thrown 9 touchdowns since the start of November with a rating of 99.5.
In the first matchup Smith was outplayed by Terrell Pryor of the Oakland Raiders in terms of yards as Smith only had 128 yards. Smith did win where it matters most though, not allowing a turnover while Pryor gave it away to the opposing defense 3 times.
Smith has been efficient only throwing 6 interceptions, because of his carefulness with the ball. It will be important for Smith not give the Raiders any hope by putting them in a good field position. Smith has shown he can hang with the best of them in duels with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. He has thrown for 2,873 yards and 18 touchdowns for a QB Rating of 85.5. In statistical terms, he ranks ahead of quarterbacks, such as Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and ex-teammate Colin Kaepernick.
2. Get pressure on the Matt McGloin
This one seems like an obvious statement, but it’s really not. During their unspeakable 3 game skid the Chiefs only brought down the likes of Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning, just once, in a meaningless Eric Berry takedown.
The Chiefs were able to bring down Robert Griffin III 6 times last week aiding in their 45-10 beat down in Washington. The last time they face the Raiders, they were able to bring down Pryor 9 times, including the one that pushed them to the famous “4th and 48”.
3. Get in good field position
In order to return home with a victory and a playoff berth, the return team (pun intended) must put this offense in good field position. As we saw through the 9-0 start, the Chiefs offense strives when they are put in good field position.
Unlike the first 9 weeks, it is unlikely to expect the Chiefs to create turnovers on consistent basis, as we saw during the losing streak. But we saw last week against Washington, is that even if turnovers are not being forced, the special teams can put the offense in that much needed field position.
Dexter McCluster had 7 punt returns last Sunday for 177 yards and a score for a Chiefs record. While Quentin Demps also had a return for the score coming from a kick return with 123 yards. Although is unclear if McCluster will be available or not this Sunday, I still expect whoever is back there to get the job done. Now it is unfair to expect these guys to get a couple scores every week, but now the pressure is on them. I want to see them putting this offense in good position so Smith can punch it in the end zone.
Follow Shane on Twitter: @jacksonshane3