Nevertheless, that is precisely where the Chiefs stand after a 19-10 victory over the Broncos on Thanksgiving night.
The questions that abounded regarding a beleaguered offensive line have been answered. Larry Johnson has found the same swagger that allowed him to put together the best half season in the history of the league last year. The defense is no longer the laughing stock of the league and ranks ninth in scoring and 12th overall.
Is that enough to push the Chiefs into the playoffs and perhaps win a game or two?
Sorry Chief fans, this puzzle is still missing a few pieces. The passing game must return to the form that actually put the Chiefs in this position in the first place. Now, I'm not calling for Damon Huard to return, but Green has to regain the form that made him one of the top signal callers in the league over the last five years.
As Warpaint Illustrated Columnist Clayton Wendler pointed out in his latest piece, "Larry Can't Do Everything," the Chiefs are leaning far too heavily on the shoulders of "the man-beast." Johnson will be the first tell everyone that he is more than capable of shouldering this kind of load. But Johnson is the fiercest of competitors. Of course he feels that way. And head coach Herm Edwards is committed to sticking with what is successful.
"You play the game with the mindset you're going to run and try to be a balanced offense," said Edwards. "But when you're running and you're making almost five yards a run, why wouldn't you continue to run? Why would I sit there and say, ‘well, I've got to throw passes?' I'll throw passes when it's time to throw passes."
With the strength of defenses the Chiefs play over the closing weeks of the season, banking on five yards a carry is an unsafe assumption. This is the reason why the Chiefs need to get their passing game in order now.
Green has two games under his belt but still seems like he's shaking off the rust. A road game against a reeling Cleveland team is the perfect time to let Green get as acclimated to throwing the ball as he needs to be heading into a vital stretch of December games.
It's a widely known fact that the Chiefs are nearly unbeatable at home in the month of December. Green has never lost a December game at Arrowhead and it's been his dominance at quarterback that has perpetuated that team success. Green has won all 11 December home games he's played in as a Chief. In seven of those games he's had a quarterback rating over 100.
The final piece of the puzzle may come as a shock to some, but it's a little more Michael Bennett and a little less Johnson that the Chiefs need. Seemingly every time Bennett enters the game, a big play is waiting on the horizon. He is averaging 6.8 yards per carry and none were bigger than the 41-yard scamper he had Thursday night.
After watching Johnson carry 15 to 20 straight times, when Bennett gets the ball it looks like he's straddling a rocket. It's almost as if defenses believe that since Johnson is on the sideline, a passing play is coming, and that kind of deception will be valuable in the last five games of the season.
With soon to be AFC North champion Baltimore and wild-card contender Jacksonville visiting Arrowhead in this last month, the Chiefs will need a repeat performance of years past, both from the running game and from Green in order to still be playing in January.
Chiefs Need To Be Clicking On All Cylinders
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