They just keep winning, don’t they?
Even if it’s as ugly as some of the sweaters that were on display Saturday at Allen Field House, the Chiefs made it eight straight wins on Sunday by overcoming a potential land mine in Baltimore, 34-14.
This was the game that worried me the most. Baltimore is now just 4-10, but nearly every game it has played has been decided by 10 points or less, so actually the Chiefs did something that few teams have accomplished with their 20-point blowout.
Fortunately for the Chiefs, there was no Joe Flacco, no Terrell Suggs, no Steve Smith Sr., no Justin Forsett, no Ravens stars of note, really. The Ravens have put more players on injured reserve than any team in the NFL and this is going to be their first losing season since John Harbaugh has been head coach.
Of course the Chiefs have injury woes of their own with no Jamaal Charles and no Justin Houston, but the depth the organization has accumulated has allowed them to hum along unbated over the last two months.
The Chiefs really have to like their playoff chances now. Sure, there’s still a chance they could win the AFC West if the Peyton Manning-less Broncos lose again, but like the Chiefs they are home the final two weeks against Cincinnati and San Diego. Kansas City must navigate through Cleveland and Oakland. If they both end up 11-5, the Chiefs are the champions by virtue of their divisional record.
As it stands right now, the Chiefs are the No. 1 wild-card team and the Steelers have climbed into the No. 2 spot. Anybody with eyeballs can see, though, the Steelers currently are playing the best of any team in the AFC. New England is surviving due to Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck, while Cincinnati must get along the rest of the way without Andy Dalton. That’s why the Denver-Cincinnati game next week is going to be huge as it will be the Bengals’ first big test without their leader. I don’t consider Sunday’s Cincy win over San Francisco as a litmus test as the 49ers are simply woeful this year.
The Chiefs are unique in the way they have cobbled this streak together. On Sunday it was the defense that provided the offense, as Tyvon Branch and Marcus Peters has long TD returns of a fumble and interception, respectively. The offensive numbers were hardly awe-inspiring as they had only 277 yards while giving up 366. The pedestrian Jimmy Clausen put up 273 yards on a still-suspect Kansas City secondary, though it should be noted 48 came on a Hail Mary TD pass at the end of the first half. Even though Peters had two picks, he was a target throughout the game for Clausen, while Sean Smith continues to give up several catches a game.
The Chiefs ran the ball for just 113 yards, 38 of those coming on one play. Alex Smith almost never took a shot downfield, but was a controlled 21 of 25 for 164 yards. It was nice, though, to see Travis Kelce being highlighted again as he had six catches for 77 yards.
Next week should shake things up. Pittsburgh should roll past Baltimore, but the New York Jets, the third team in the 9-5 wild-card cluster, has New England at home. By my math, if Kansas City knocks off Cleveland and New York loses to New England, the Chiefs should clinch a playoff spot.
This from a team given up for dead after a 1-5 start.