In the next month, the Kansas City Chiefs will know their fate. With two games against the Las Vegas Raiders and a game each against the Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos, the AFC West will be won or lost.
Within this span they also get a huge match-up at home against the Dallas Cowboys and a merciful bye-week to lick their wounds before the trio of divisional clashes.
We’d all agree this has been a weird and frustrating season. If you told Kansas City Chiefs fans that – after nine weeks – there would be 10 AFC teams with equal or better records than the Chiefs, it might have been interpreted as the final sign of the apocalypse.
There are probably an equal number of fans who think the Chiefs are either lucky or unlucky to be 5-4. Few would argue that the team has taken a step back from the previous two seasons.
But none of this matters if the Chiefs can find their bearings over the next five games.
In one month, the AFC West will look very different than it does today. Within that time, the Chiefs can bury the Broncos, secure the tie-break against the Raiders, and even the score with the Chargers.
Any hopes lost in the first half of the season can be reclaimed with four wins against division foes. The Chiefs may not be able to claw back to the one-seed, but they can still win the AFC West.
Chiefs Need to Focus On the Month Ahead
To make this a special month, the Chiefs need to straighten out a couple of issues. The good news is, we saw evidence of improvement last week against the Packers.
- Get Patrick Mahomes on track. Continue to hit the short routes and force deep safeties to cheat up. A short pass over the middle for 8-12 yards is a winning play. Take those plays until the defense adjusts.
- Run the ball. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire coming back and Darrel Williams showing he can also move the ball, the Chiefs need to commit more snaps to the ground game. And please, more Jerick McKinnon on passing downs!
- Figure out WR2. This nonsensical rotation of Josh Gordon, Byron Pringle, Mecole Hardman, and Demarcus Robinson isn’t helping anything. Pick a guy, give him the majority of the snaps, and let him find a rhythm with Mahomes and the offense.
- Keep Chris Jones inside. I loved what I saw from Melvin Ingram. He and Frank Clark are the two best defensive ends on the team. Michael Danna is a very capable rotation player. Jones is a DT, pure and simple. That’s where he makes an impact and that’s what makes the line better.
- Get Nick Bolton on the field. I have no idea why his snaps went down in the Green Bay game. Yes, the defense played well – against a guy starting his first NFL game. But how can the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month have his lowest snap total of the season?
- Secure the football. Turnovers have killed this team as much as anything else that’s happened this season. If other teams keep taking it away, there is no chance the Chiefs can salvage the season.
I’m bullish on the Chiefs making a run. They are relatively healthy and still have a bye-week ahead.
In one month we’ll know if this team just fell asleep for half a season or is in need of serious overhauling in the off-season. But for now, a great opportunity lies ahead. Will they seize it or crumble under the pressure?