The Kansas City Chiefs’ playoff hopes could very well be determined Sunday.
If the Chiefs can find cobble together enough players for an offensive line, they can take a major step forward to making the AFC playoff field of six with a victory over Oakland.
The surging Chiefs have won five in a row to move to 6-5. They are now the No. 5 team if the season ended today, as they hold tiebreakers over the other 6-5 teams.
Kansas City, Houston, Indianapolis and the New York Jets are all 6-5. At this point the Chiefs hold the tiebreakers, though either Houston or Indianapolis will eventually be a division champion.
If they can make it six straight, they are home for three of their final four games, though for much of the first half against Buffalo, before a freezing, half-filled Arrowhead Stadium, they sleptwalk. You would have thought being home for the first time in more than a month would have had the Chiefs sky-high, but they were flat as a pancake.
However, Andy Reid found a way to energize his team and it rallied to beat Buffalo, which means if the Chiefs and 5-6 Bills end up tied at the end of the season, the Chiefs also have that tiebreaker.
Kansas City has not played well in Oakland in recent years. Last year’s debacle basically cost them a spot in the playoffs when the defense was porous and the offense ineffective.
There has to be major concerns about the offensive line. Already a ragtag bunch at the start of the year, they’ve now lost their best lineman Ben Grubbs for the season, while Eric Fisher, Jeff Allen and Mitch Morse are all ailing after being injured last week. The Chiefs are just hoping to have enough bodies to fill out the front five.
The NFL is becoming all about attrition and the Chiefs have been as banged up as anybody. Jamaal Charles was lost early in the season, and last week’s game really took its toll as pass-rush specialist Justin Houston also was among those hurt and may not play.
Oakland has to like its chances. It’s a physical team that finally has a respectable coach in Jack Del Rio. It’s not quite the Raider team that you waited around for it to make a mistake as it’s more disciplined than past seasons. Del Rio has gotten the Raiders to knock off the nonsensical stuff that has defined them the last decade.
If the Chiefs can somehow survive, they have home games left with San Diego, Cleveland and Oakland — a combined 10-23. And the only road game is a beat-up Baltimore team that is 4-7 and stripped of its two biggest playmakers, the injured Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett.
If the Chiefs can just bandage things up a few more weeks, they might be playing extra football after the regular season.