West title was important for Chiefs

By Steve Sell
January 02, 2017

During the Kansas City Chiefs’ AFC West-clinching 37-27 victory over San Diego on Sunday, which gave them a 6-0 run of the table against the division, this question was posed on CBS to former KC quarterback Trent Green, who was working as the game analyst:

“Would you rather play next week (on the road, no less) while you’re riding a high or have the week off and play at home in two weeks, risking an interruption of momentum?”

This should have been a no-brainer. Of course the Chiefs want the week off. They want to be at home. Duh!

At this time of the long-and-grueling NFL season, every team is beaten and battered. I’m sure the offensive and defensive linemen who have waged weeky battles in the trenches can barely get out of bed. Running backs who log a heavy workload wince at every step.

So yes, the Chiefs want the week off. They want to give star linebacker Justin Houston an extra week of rest, which will mean he hasn’t played in nearly month and should finally be fresh. They want to get Jeremy Maclin and Eric Berry close to 100 percent. They want to have a couple of days off this week instead of getting right back at practice.

Had Kansas City not won its division, it would have played this week at Houston. While the Chiefs did lose to the Texans early in the season, that result isn’t an indiction where the teams are now. The Texans have quarterback issues and since the teams have played, the Chiefs have unveiled Tyreek Hill, who has burst on to the scene like a comet.

Playoffs often aren’t about the best team, but the healthiest. The Chiefs have had their fair share of hurts like any other team, the most notable being heart-and-soul linebacker Derrick Johnson, along with defensive bookends Jaye Howard and Allen Bailey. That’s three key starters on a defense that’s already suspect in giving up a lot of yards, but not a lot of points.

While Kansas City will be home resting this weekend, Pittsburgh — the probable opponent at Arrowhead in the semifinals — will have to expend energy, even though it should run roughshod over Miami. Still, there’s always that chance of one of the three Bs — Bell, Brown and Ben — getting nicked up.

Since Pittsburgh figured to be the opponent anyway, the Chiefs would much rather play the Steelers at home than in Pittsburgh, where they dropped an egg in a nationally televised game earlier this season, arguably their worst performance of the year.

I had posted a column earlier this year pegging the Chiefs at 10-6 and making the playoffs as a wild card, so their 12-4 record and AFC West title have been a surprise to say the least. They still have too many outages on offense for my taste and sometimes get a little too cute down by the goal line. The running game has been so-so and as mentioned earlier, you’d never think they’d be 12-4 with a defense that gives up yards so generously. Thank goodness they tighten up down by the goal line.

The road to AFC title still goes through New England. I’d just like to see the Chiefs get a chance to play them in three weeks.