According to those number-crunching brainiacs who make their livings figuring out the NFL tiebreakers, the Kansas City Chiefs reportedly control their own destiny in the final two weeks of the season.
Who would have thought that after the season-opening debacle against lowly Tennessee, which has proven to be a big reason the Chiefs are skating on thin ice.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh currently lead the AFC wild-card race with 9-5 records. Kansas City, Buffalo and San Diego are all 8-6. The Chiefs already own wins over the latter two.
The Chiefs play Sunday at Pittsburgh, then close the following week at Arrowhead against San Diego. Two wins and the Chiefs would be in, as they would hold the necessary tiebreakers.
Realistically, on paper, the Chiefs don’t have the talent of those other 8-6 teams. But they have hung in despite losing to a couple of the NFL’s bottom feeders.
The Steelers simply have too many weapons for the Chiefs to go in and upset them. Kansas City’s defense was stellar on Sunday in the 31-13 win over the Raiders, but remember we’re talking Raiders here. While they caught lightning in a bottle on a rainy Thursday night in the Black Hole to shock the Chiefs for one of their two victories a few weeks back, they are not a good team and in the third quarter reverted to Raider football, the credo being they always find a way to beat themselves.
That Kansas City is still in the race with a depleted team should earn Andy Reid some Coach of the Year votes in the AFC. The expected heavyweights — New England, Indianapolis, Denver and Cincinnati — have performed as expected, while Pittsburgh and Baltimore have playoff pedigree. Right now, the Chiefs and Cleveland are the two most surprising teams, especially since the Chiefs’ defense has played all or most of the year without heart-and-soul Derrick Johnson, run-stuffer Mike DeVito and spiritual leader Eric Berry. The Chiefs’ offensive line also is a cobbled-together group, with only the underachieving Eric Fisher and solid center Rodney Hudson not considered journeymen.
The Chiefs also get less production out of their wide receivers than any other team in the NFL. Dwayne Bowe STILL doesn’t have a touchdown catch on the season even though his contract would allow him to tip with hundy-dollar bills when he goes out to eat. Donnie Avery has missed much of the year and the rest of the receivers are a collection of “Who’s he?” types. Thank goodness for the emergence of tight end Travis Kelce and TE partner Anthony Fasano, who is reliable catching the ball but seems to be a penalty-earning machine.
By winning against the Raiders, the Chiefs are assured of no worse than a .500 season, which was thought to be a stretch considering the difficulty of their schedule. How many NFL teams can claim wins over both New England and Seattle, two teams that could very well wind up in the Super Bowl?
Sometimes we have to be thankful for what we have. For the Chiefs, it’s meaningful football games in December.