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Tribal Warfare
01-05-2011, 03:31 AM
Chiefs have the balance it takes to be a playoff threat (http://www.kansascity.com/2011/01/04/2561612/chiefs-have-the-balance-it-takes.html)
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star

The classic formula for a team built for playoff success goes something like this: Have a strong running game, a resilient defense, a quarterback having a big season and players that don’t commit turnovers.

With the glaring exception of last week’s loss to Oakland, that describes the Chiefs. They led the league during the regular season in rushing. The defense allowed fewer points than all but 10 other teams. Matt Cassel, even after a horrid game against the Raiders, finished as the AFC’s fifth-rated passer. The Chiefs committed fewer turnovers than all but one other team.

Overlooking for the moment the fact the 10-6 Chiefs are going into the postseason on a huge down note, should they be considered a dangerous playoff team heading into Sunday’s first-round game against Baltimore at Arrowhead Stadium?

“I think they’re dangerous, especially at home,” said former Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, now an analyst for ESPN. “They don’t give up a lot of points, they can run the football. They don’t turn the football over. They don’t beat themselves with a lot of foolish fouls. So I think you have to say this is a team that’s built for playoff competition.”

There’s certainly more than one way to win in the playoffs. Chiefs guard Ryan Lilja formerly played for the Colts, who generally had trouble running the ball and playing stout defense.

Yet the Colts are a threat every year in the postseason.

“But you look at the years the Colts advanced, we ran the ball decently,” Lilja said. “I remember grinding it out against Baltimore one year in the playoffs, kicking five field goals or something, not turning the ball over, sustaining drives, converting on third downs. It wasn’t so much about big plays for us a lot of times but hard-fought games.”

That’s the tried and true way, the ability to win games in a variety of ways if an opponent takes away a strength, as playoff opponents generally can do. The Chiefs have won games both high-scoring and low.

The ability to run the ball, while it can’t carry a team alone, has helped many teams advance in the playoffs. A strong running game allowed the Chiefs to take pressure off their defense and make some big passing plays.

The Chiefs’ passing game is heavy on play-action and the Chiefs have the big-play receivers — Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster — to make it work.

“If you can run the ball, you can control the clock,” Edwards said. “Then they’ve got enough skill guys where they can spread some people out and take advantage of that. They can give some people matchup problem with Charles and McCluster. If they split them out and get them in space against linebackers, other people have a problem.”

The Chiefs played one of the league’s easiest schedules. Only two of their opponents made the playoffs, and one, Seattle, is the first 7-9 team to reach the postseason.

Among teams with a top-five rushing defense, the Chiefs have played only San Diego, where the Chiefs had a season-low 48 yards during a loss last month. So it’s natural to wonder how the Chiefs will do against the fifth-rated Ravens.

One thing Baltimore won’t have to worry about is any aura of invincibility the Chiefs might have had at Arrowhead. They were 7-0 at home until Oakland destroyed them on Sunday.

Still, former Raiders coach Tom Cable said he thinks the Chiefs could advance far in the playoffs.

“They’re going to make some noise,” Cable said. “If you’re (the Ravens), having to go to Kansas City isn’t going to be pleasant.

“As long as (Cassel) goes out there and he’s on his feet, they’ve got a pretty good football team.”

The Raiders made certain Cassel wasn’t on his feet much Sunday. They pressured him relentlessly and wound up with seven sacks in the game.

The Ravens, though, are built differently than the Raiders. They don’t allow many points but don’t have the pressure-based defense and aren’t as explosive offensively as Oakland is.

The Chiefs have seen a variety of styles in their opponents, but probably none as strong as the 12-4 Ravens.

“We’ve been able to handle all the things as they’ve come,” veteran guard Brian Waters said. “We’ve handled being able to get off to a good start in the season, we’ve handled a couple of rough patches during the season, we’ve been able to bounce back from a couple of losses.

“We’ve definitely handled pressure situations very well and I think that will be a good thing for this team.”

Waters was a member of the Chiefs’ last two playoff teams. The Chiefs were a wild-card team that made the playoffs on the final weekend of the regular season in 2006. Expectations were minimal for that 9-7 team, and the Chiefs were barely competitive in a 23-8 loss to the Colts in their playoff game.

But in 2003, the Chiefs were 13-3 and AFC West champions entering the playoffs. A horrible defense dragged the Chiefs down in their 38-31 loss to the Colts.

“As good as that (2003) team was, this is a better team as a whole,” Waters said. “We were a very good offensive team but one thing … we didn’t have a killer instinct as an offense. We knew we could score points, but we didn’t do the things we needed to do to take over the game so our defense wouldn’t have to be a factor. This team is far ahead of that team (in that regard). We have a better brand of football to play.

“We felt we had to be perfect in that game. That was the type of program we were running at the time. We didn’t put a whole bunch of emphasis on the defense. If that’s the way your team is built, you have to play to that. This team is different. We can win in a lot of different fashions. One side (of the ball) can take control when the other side (doesn’t).”

The Chiefs would prefer to be more consistent. They lost three of their last eight games by 20 points or more. They would prefer to be going in with some momentum rather than after a blowout loss to a hated rival.

But all things considered, they’ll take their chances with what they have.

“We can do things that good playoff teams do,” Waters said. “We run the ball, we stop the run, we don’t hurt ourselves. I think we’re getting better in the areas you want to get better in, like explosive plays down the field and making turnovers.”

Count Alex's Wins
01-05-2011, 03:32 AM
the Chiefs have the big-play receivers — Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster — to make it work.

One of these things is not like the other....

Easy 6
01-05-2011, 07:49 AM
I hope Haley lines up our O hogs & has a few staff take turns pimp slappin'em & talking about their momma's before this game.

I want anger.

ReynardMuldrake
01-05-2011, 07:59 AM
Can we please stop interviewing Herm??

YayMike
01-05-2011, 08:07 AM
Chiefs have the balance it takes to be a playoff threat (http://www.kansascity.com/2011/01/04/2561612/chiefs-have-the-balance-it-takes.html)
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star

“As good as that (2003) team was, this is a better team as a whole,” Waters said. “We were a very good offensive team but one thing … we didn’t have a killer instinct as an offense. We knew we could score points, but we didn’t do the things we needed to do to take over the game so our defense wouldn’t have to be a factor. This team is far ahead of that team (in that regard). We have a better brand of football to play.


I have much more confidence in this team than I did in the 2003 team playing the Colts. Even if we lose, I feel we will be in the game until the end.

kc rush
01-05-2011, 08:24 AM
Can we please stop interviewing Herm??

AMEN

Hog Farmer
01-05-2011, 08:32 AM
I can forsee Haley costing us the game by going for it on fourth down. The Ravens are not a team that we need to be passing up field goal opportunities on.