Chiefs Second Half Preview

Now the fun begins. With the most difficult stretch of their schedule behind them, the Kansas City Chiefs are virtually insured of winning the AFC West and securing their first playoff spot since the 90's. They must now focus on getting home field advantage in the AFC.

With only two winning teams remaining on their 2003 schedule, the Chiefs control their own destiny for home field advantage in the playoffs. With that goal in hand, don't expect the team to have any Sunday letdowns the remainder of the season. If they do, they could lose homefield advantage.

Everyone in the NFL knows that the Chiefs are 8-0 and the best team in the NFL. They are the hands on favorite to be the AFC representative for the Super Bowl. With only two teams possibly three teams standing in their way, the Chiefs will have no problem staying focused.

The Chiefs with a three game divsion lead that could swell to four games if the Patriots beat the Broncos on Monday Night.

Believe it or not the Chiefs magic number to clinch the AFC West would be only four games with a Broncos loss. A combination of four hiefs wins or Broncos losses would give the Chiefs the top spot in the division. That could be deiced in this month.

he Chiefs have had some fortuitous bounces this year. The Broncos have lost their starting and back-up quarterback Jake Plummer and Steve Beuerlein. They are relying on third string quarterback Danny Kennel until Plummer returns. Now Plummer is expected back after their bye week and could be back in game form by the time the Broncos play the Chiefs again.

Denver has some luck on their side right now. They are in a stretch where they have five of their next six games at home. Ironically it was the pounding that Plummer took in Kansas City, that put him on the injury shelf.

The Oakland Raiders have lost starting quarterback Rich Gannon for two weeks and back-up Marquez Tuiasosopo for the season. Now they'll have to rely on Rick Mirer to lead the team until Gannon returns. The team is imploding as head coach Bill Callahan is on the hot seat and might be fired.

The team faces a mass exodus of players at seasons end. After their most embarrassing loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday, players are even more disgusted with Callahan and the coaching staff. He's clearly lost control of his 2-6 team.

But this is the man the players wanted when Jon Gruden bolted for Tampa Bay. This is why you never let the players have a say in coaches or management. Al Davis now faces the task of rebuilding a franchise that he might not have the energy to fix. The Raiders are off to their worst start since he was head coach back in the mid 60's.

Speaking of the Bolts, the Chargers lost another game on Sunday and stand 1-7 on the season. They also face the certainty of yet another coaching move at seasons end. Marty Schottenheimer is getting dumber and dumber as the season unfolds. To his credit, he's at a disadvantage with the raging fires in San Diego. The team has not played a home game since September nor been able to practice in San Diego. Still his team is unprepared to play on Sunday and he's already messing with the teams future. His latest move could signal the end of his coaching tenure in San Diego sometime this month or next.

Yesterday in their feeble loss to the Chicago Bears, Schottenheimer pulled their franchise quarterback Drew Brees in favor of aging veteran Doug Flutie. Schottenheimer did that last season and Brees never recovered. It quite likely will backfire once again. But the Chargers were doomed when they signed David Boston away from the Cardinals. He's been a cancer in the locker room and Schottenheimer once again chose a low character guy like he did in his final years in Kansas City. Now he'll be out of a job at the end of the year.

With all that said, the Chiefs should wrap up the division title before December. But that's only one half the battle.

As the Chief prepare for the second half of the season, they open with a home game against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns can't stop the run, can't find a consistent quarterback and they have a head coach in Butch Davis who has not made the adjustment from the college game to the NFL.

He's made mistake after mistake and now faces a situation that could cost him his job. He paid Tim Couch all that money out of college and Kelly Holcomb is the better of the two quarterbacks. Couch plays great on the road and Holcomb is much better at home. That's a tough quandary. The Chiefs should roll!

The following week, the Chiefs take on the Cincinnati Bengals. Many feel this is the hiccup game fot the Chiefs. But after the Bengals played like the Bengals in their loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, this game should also be a cakewalk for the Chiefs. Jon Kitna has had success against the Chiefs in the past but this team does not have the defensive horses to stop all of the Chiefs offensive weapons.

After the Bengals, the Chiefs face the Raiders at home and then on the road to face the Chargers. Both teams will be playing back-ups and would each have to play a perfect game just be competitive. If all that happens, the Chiefs should be 12-0 at this point.

With those four wins in hand. The Chief will face a Denver Broncos team that's either eliminated from the AFC West or be playing a game that could eliminate them from the divsion.

Plummer should be back but that's not a certainty. The Chiefs will be focused and understand that this is a statement game. They're season and the respect they earn despite their record will be made with a win in Denver.

A loss to the Broncos could give a glimmer of hope to their AFC counterparts. This will also be the last AFC game on the Chiefs schedule. This game will set the bar for the number of AFC wins needed to get home field advantage.

The Chiefs then face the Detroit Lions at home, the Vikings on the road and the Chicago Bears to finish out the year at Arrowhead.

The Vikings game could jeopardize the Chiefs quest for an undefeated season, provided they win at Denver and have no slip ups in November. But with the Vikings inability to stop the run and the fact they've lost two consecutive home games the last two weeks, indicates that this game might not be as tough as some predicted after the Vikings 6-0 start.

Regardless if the Chiefs make it to 16-0 or not, they are not going to have a letdown and unless this team has a plethora of injures, they should wrap up home field advantage and that's the key to getting to the Super Bowl. But that sounds easy but it might not just be the case.

So with a post season birth in hand the Chiefs will likely have to beat the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts to reach the big game in Houston on the first of February.

The Colts are the surprise of the AFC. They stand 7-1 at the break and Peyton Manning, in his contract year, is having his best overall season. He's always put up big numbers but this year, he has additional weapons and he's using all of them.

The Colts have only three difficult games left on their schedule. A road game at Tennessee and home games against the Broncos and Patriots. They still have to play the Atlanta Falcons and Michael Vick should be back by then. That game is in Indianapolis and that could be a game that the Colts lose. But Vick has yet to play and the Falcons team is in turmoil.

The Tennessee Titans have a cakewalk schedule. They have two tough home games with Indianapolis and Tampa Bay. That's it. They only have three road games left, at Atlanta, New York Jets and Houston. They could easily run the table.

Steve McNair is having his best season as a professional and he might be the best passer in the NFL. What he's doing is amazing considering that he has no running game.

Now the Titans stand 6-2 and the good thing is that either the Colts or Titans will lose at least one other game. That would mean both could reasonably finish 14-2.

If the Chiefs go 15-1, they win home field advantage. Now if all three teams tie at 14-2, the Chiefs could lose home field advantage.

This is where it gets fun.

Because the Colts do not have an AFC loss to date, they would need to lose at Tennessee and at least one more AFC loss if the Chiefs lose only one AFC game.

The Titans have already have lost two AFC games and if they lose to the Colts, then Kansas City go 15-1 or 14-2 to have a tie-breaker advantage with the Titans. If that happens, the Colts wuld have to lose at least two AFC games and one of those has to be against the Titans.

The Colts would need to lost at two of their remaining home games against the Falcons, Patriots or Broncos to give them two AFC losses. Of course losing to the Titans would be magical in securing home field advantage for the Chiefs.

Most NFL experts still believe the Titans are the team to beat in the AFC. Everyone knows that the Chiefs are the darlings of the NFL at the midway point but championships are not won in November.

So that sets up a couple of playoff scenarios that could decide the teams fate to make it to the Super Bowl.

If Kansas City has to face the Colts in Indianapolis, that might be a game they can win because the Colts playoff history is no better than the Chiefs. But going to Tennessee could be a daunting and difficult task.

For all those reasons, the Chiefs and head coach Dick Vermeil will have his team focused just for those reasons. He knows as well as his players that if the Chiefs have home field advantage in the playoffs, they have a tremendous opportunity to make it to the Super Bowl. If they have to go on the road, the chances are still good.

The Chiefs likely will play the Colts, Patriots, Ravens, Broncos, Dolphins or Titans in the first round. The Chiefs are a lock to secure a first round playoff bye and have at least one playoff game at Arrowhead. The winner of the AFC South between the Colts and Titans will secure the other bye week. Nobody else has a reasonable shot based on their remaining schedules. The Patriots will win the East and the Ravens will win the North. Neither of them can beat the Chiefs in Kansas City.

If one of those teams upsets the Colts or Titans in the first round, then the Chiefs should have an easy second round playoff game against the weaker of the remaining seeds left in the playoffs.

That would set up a showdown in Kansas City against the best team left standing for the AFC Championship.

The question to be played out the next eight weeks will not be if the Chiefs never lose another game, but if they can secure home field advantage. Of course if they win them all, then this is a moot point. But that's not likely to happen. So it will boil down to; who they lose to and how many games the Colts and Titans lose the remainder of the season.

If Kansas City lose two AFC games, then they'll have to root for division rival Denver to win in Indianapolis in Week #16 and Tampa Bay to lay a number on the Titans in the final game of the season. If not, the wacky AFC could be decided by tie-breaker formulas.

It's possible all three teams could be tied with 14-2 records and none of them will have any games head to head. So it will go to division records and if the Chiefs go undefeated that would give them an edge but the Colts could do the same thing. The Titans can't. Then it goes to common opponents.

The Colts already beat the Browns; the Chiefs hope to beat the Browns on Sunday. The Colts play the Texans twice and play the Broncos once. The Chiefs play the Broncos twice and already beat the Texans so that's probably a wash. The tie-breaker could be the Buffalo Bills. We beat them and the Colts face them on the road in November.

The Titans play the Texans twice and we beat them already. The Titans have already beaten the Raiders and we have them twice so that's a likely another wash. Again the Buffalo Bills stand the best chance of helping the Chiefs. They play at Tennessee in December. Outside of that game, the Chiefs don't have any other common opponents.

The Chiefs hold a two game AFC lead over the Titans and are tied with the Colts who are also undefeated in the AFC. The Colts need to lose at least two more AFC games at Tennessee and at Buffalo or home against the Bronocs or Patriots. The Chiefs could afford one AFC slip up in Denver and a loss at Minnesota and secure the home field slot.

But if Kansas City loses two AFC games, then the Titans would need to lose at least one more and the Colts would have to lose either at home to the Jets or Broncos. It's a given each team will sweep the Texans but those could each be possible slip up games for each team.

All this means very little if the Chiefs don't take care of business starting with the Browns this Sunday. As each week passes, the playoff picture will clear up. And unless a team catches fire, the Chiefs should be in great shape.

So after this dissertation by yours truly, if the Chiefs go 15-1 they are a lock for home field advantage unless the Colts run the table. That's not likely based on their recent history but its still possible. In fact, if they do and they beat the Titans twice this year, they deserve the same respect as the Chiefs.

If the Titans run the table, they'll be 14-2 and the Chiefs are safe provided they go 15-1. But if even if the Titans lose just one more game and the Chiefs lose two games, then Kansas City will still have home field advantage over the Titans. If the Colts falter down the stretch and the Chiefs keep wining, then they'll be in great shape to defend the road to the Super Bowl on their home turf.

Chiefs fans need to root for the Bills, Titans and division rival Denver to crank up a couple of losses on our friends in the AFC South.

But even if that happens, then the Chiefs might still have to worry about the New England Patriots who have beaten the Titans and play the Colts in Indy later in the year. They stand 6-2 and have only one loss in the AFC.

So just to be safe, the Chiefs need to go 16-0.


WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories