The mathematicians say the Kansas City Chiefs are still alive for the sixth-and-final AFC playoff spot.
Their hopes are slim and none — and slim already has one foot out the door.
At least the Chiefs are still in this thing, something I would never have imagined after their 0-2 start. Next week’s home game and regular-season finale against San Diego, thankfully, won’t be a dreadful, mail-it-in-let’s-not-get-anybody-hurt affair.
The Chiefs on Sunday had a chance to make things very interesting against Pittsburgh, one of the teams they were chasing. But they turned to putty in the red zone, Alex Smith’s arm apparently is good for only 20 yards, Jamaal Charles had another costly fumble, and Chris Owens and Ron Parker got a lot of air time because they were repeatedly getting burned in the crumbling Chiefs secondary in a 20-12 loss — and put the Steelers in the AFC party of six.
This, however, was a winnable game. The Chiefs, for the most part, kept expected first-team All-Pro running back Leveon Bell in check (20 carries for 63 yards), and held Ben Roethlisberger to a pedestrian (by his standards) 220 yards passing. Antonio Brown did have seven catches, but for only 72 yards. KC's Cairo Santos, after flubbing two field goals last week, was 4 of 4 though his onside kick attempt at the end of the game was about as poorly executed as possible.
The Chiefs totaled more yards, won the time of possession, committed only four penalties (although all each was huge) and played hard — just as they have in every game since Andy Reid took over as coach.
But the Chiefs lost this game because they simply don’t have enough good players and the ones they have have to be at their best for this team to win.
Once again, there was nowhere for Charles to run and Knile Davis was barely a thought in Reid’s mind (two carries). The rag-tag offensive line, probably the team’s weakest link, couldn’t pass block long enough for Smith to look downfield, so he had to settle for dinks and dunks. Albert Wilson was the only receiver to average more than 10 yards a catch and the wide receivers again didn’t score, keeping up their hopes for tying an ignominious NFL record by going an entire season without a touchdown catch — hey, it’s a record though.
The Chiefs’ defense could never get a stop when it needed it in a game that produced only three punts total. Justin Houston did have a sack, but the Chiefs really never threatened Roethlisberger the rest of the time. They again didn’t have an interception and they have only four on the year because they play so soft in the secondary.
When the Chiefs miss the playoffs next Sunday — too many crazy things will have to happen for them to get in — they’ll look back at the losses to woebegones Tennessee and Oakland as the daggers to their season. No matter how bad those teams are, it proves that anybody can beat anybody else on a given day. You have to be ready each and every week or you’ll just miss the playoffs like the Chiefs.