Breaking Down the ‘Final Seven'

With the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday evening contest tonight in Houston, this organization faces unfamiliar territory. On offense as a unit for the first time in three season doubt and age has led to a vulnerability that has the players and coaches concerned. On defense, this team has teased fans with their potential.

Last Sunday in Buffalo they stepped up and outside of a couple of passing plays, they shut down one the games best running backs. But what did the team learn from that loss and how will they react to the loss knowing they'll have to win out their games to keep destiny within their control.

The Chiefs face a Houston Texans team with a losing record. They'll face a team that has won only one game this season. They have a young quarterback whose Texas-sized paycheck has led to only one underachieving season after another. David Carr has talent but does he have the goods to deliver tonight. You bet he does. Will he? That will be played out this evening in what could be a showcase game for his future. Carr could be an unrestricted free agent at seasons end and tonight is one of the last prime time games he'll be able to show his skills.

But that's not the focal point of this game. Let's face it the Chiefs should destroy the Texans even with a bruised and damaged offensive line. There is no question which team has more talent and heart for that matter. But that does not equate to wins for the Chiefs. They proved that point last week in Buffalo against the Bills. Their embarrassing 14-3 loss was devastating to their egos and playoff chances.

Looking past the Texans and assuming the Chiefs win. They'll finally get a break with their schedule as they'll play four of their final six games at home. To put that in perspective, the Denver Broncos will be playing their sixth home game of the season this afternoon when they face the New York Jets at Invesco field. For those thinking Denver is a fluke standing atop the division with a 7-2 record, they've had a clear advantage playing at home so often.

For a playoff team, they've also been the benefactor of a relatively soft schedule which is rare. But that's the way it turned out and for the Chiefs; they'll finally get their break. Well sort of.

After Houston, Kansas City gets back to back home games against the defending Super Bowl Champs the New England Patriots. After that tilt, the Chiefs will face the Denver Broncos in what will be a must win. Back in week two the Chiefs had the opportunity to put Denver in a 0-2 hole to start the season but they laid an egg. Instead Denver used that game to turn around their season.

Let's assume that the Chiefs take care of business and win both home contests. That'll give them a three game winning streak giving them an 8-4 record. That'll keep them in the playoff race and could put them in a tie for the division top spot with Denver. The Broncos will have to travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys on Thanksgiving day this week and that could be to the Chiefs advantage. Still I'm assuming a great deal that Kansas City can even get to 8-4. But for arguments sake, let's say they do.

Then they'll travel to Dallas to take on a Cowboys team that's likely to win the NFC East. They are talented but this division could collapse around them as both the Eagles and Redskins have struggled while the Eagles have been buried for dead.

The Chiefs have NEVER won in Dallas in the regular season. Heck they've never won in the preseason in the Lone Star state. The chances of Kansas City winning in Dallas are as likely as the state of Louisiana changing their Napoleonic Law to a more democratic system. Slim to no way.

So that puts the Chiefs at 8-5 heading into a Saturday contest in New York against the Giants. Problem with this game is the same principle that led to the loss in Dallas. Kansas City just doesn't win football games in the Meadowlands.

Though statistics generally are the broad band gauge of the National Football League, history is usually the over riding factor. That means the Chiefs are likely to lose in New York. But if they want to get to the playoffs, then they'll need to do something that division leader Denver could not do and that's to win on the road at Giants Stadium.

This might be the game that defines the season. If Kansas City had won at home against the Eagles like they should have and won games in San Diego and Buffalo like they should have; then a loss in New York would virtually be meaningless. So I'll stick my neck out and say the Chiefs win a 24-23 in the final seconds.

That puts the Chiefs in the drivers seat. With home games against the San Diego Chargers, who still don't impress me enough to make them a lock for the post season and Cincinnati who has yet to beat a good football team; the Chiefs could slip into a post season birth with some momentum.

Or they could be playing their final two home games of the season with nothing to play for except new contracts in 2006.

But for this theory to work the Chiefs need to begin the ‘Final Seven' with a victory tonight in Houston. If not, the only thing we'll be talking about is whether Herman Edwards or Bob Stoops will be a better coach to lead the Chiefs in 2006 and beyond.

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