Weekly Reactions-Wild Card Edition (1/2)

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  1. Dec 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid during the Chiefs 27-24 overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports

    Kansas City Collapse (Part One-Regular Season)
    Since the beginning of this season, both Jamaal Charles and the Kansas City Chiefs have been (at least for the first 9 games) unstoppable. To start out the season this year’s Sleeper Squad won 9 straight ball games, scoring an average of 23.8 points per game whilst allowing only 12.3 points per game to opposing teams. However, after their 9-game winning streak the Chiefs fell off a little bit, going 2-5 in their last 7 games. losing twice to division foes San Diego and Denver. Many have been saying as of late that the Chiefs were grossly overrated, pointing out that the Chiefs have lost some pretty brutal ball games. I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree there have been some ways the Chiefs have been sputtering since their BYE week in week 10. For example their once top-5 defense has played atrociously in their last 7 games, allowing 27.7 points per game which is 15.4 points more per game than the Chiefs first 9 games. As well, the Chiefs in their last 7 games of the season allowed opposing QBs to pass for a mind-boggling 302.8 passing yards per game along with 16 passing touchdowns, including a 403-yard, 5-touchdown performance to Peyton Manning and the Broncos week 13. Perhaps the Chiefs could just be first-half champions. Or perhaps we are just looking at one piece of the puzzle. The other half is Jamaal Charles and this Chiefs offense. This season Charles has been one of the most explosive and productive backs (regardless of LeSean McCoy fans). With his 1,980 yards from scrimmage (1,287 rushing yards and 693 receiving yards) and 19 touchdowns this season, Charles has cemented himself as the league’s best running back. His combination of speed and agility are some of the best in the NFL this season and after an increased workload and better QB, he has played absolutely MVP-like. Although the Chiefs passing attack may be ranked 24th in the league in yards per game (208.8 yards per game), I believe that Alex Smith has been one of the brightest spots on this Chiefs squad. Last year with three quarterbacks, Kansas City went 2-14 and scored the least amount of points per game of any NFL team. This season after changing QBs and head coaches, the Chiefs have jumped for a last-ranked 13.2 points per game to a 6th-ranked 26.9 points per game. With Alex Smith’s modest 3,313 passing yards and 23 passing touchdowns, the Chiefs have managed to have a consistently productive running game along with an equally productive passing game. With that all said, how come the Chiefs managed to lose 5 of their last 7 games? One answer really; their defense. Besides the game against the Indianapolis Colts in week 16, practically all of the Chief’s 5 losses can be attributed to their lack of defense. Against the Colts the Chiefs offense (Jamaal Charles excluded, he rushed for 106 yards on 13 carries with a 31-yard TD the Chief’s only score) played pretty poorly considering they were going up against the 20th-ranked defense in the NFL. The Chiefs fumbled 6 times in the game, 3 times by Alex Smith and twice by back-up RB Knile Davis, 50% of those fumbles being recovered by the Colts. Not only did the Chiefs play poorly on the giveaway side of things, but also Alex Smith  and the Chiefs passing game suffered. While only completing 57% of his passes for 153 yards and 0 touchdowns (first time since week 9 against Buffalo that Smith hadn’t passed for a TD), Smith was also sacked 5 times and was intercepted by LB Jerrell Freeman. On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs defense didn’t fair much better either. Along with allowing the Colts to gain over 360 yards, the Chiefs allowed the Colts to score not one, but two touchdowns of over 30 yards (a 33-yard TD pass and 51-yard run both by Donald Brown).  And just like the game against the Colts, the Chiefs have also allowed the Chargers, Broncos and Raiders to penetrate their weak defense and light the Chiefs up for some major yardage and major scores. In all but one game in their last 7 games, the Chiefs defense has allowed the opposing offense to gather more than 367 total yards. Words like atrocious, awful and blasphemous come to mind when looking at these stats. 427 total yards and 27 points to the Broncos week 11, 491 total yards and 41 points to the Chargers including a 26-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Seyi Ajirotutu in the closing seconds of week 12, 535 total yards and 35 points to the Broncos week 13, 461 total yards and 31 points to the Raiders week 15 and 405 total yards and 27 points to the Chargers week 17 (granted the 2nd-team had been playing the majority of the game). To go from being undefeated and one of the league’s best up-and-coming defenses to losing 5 of their last 7 games by horrible margins is unfathomable in my mind. How could a collapse like this could have happened? Well, for starters, injuries did have a huge part to play in the Chiefs under-performance. Regardless though to watch a collapse like that was just astonishing and shows why the Chiefs losing in the Wild Card game to the Colts didn’t come as a huge surprise to me at all.

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