Clear Your Calendars

After suffering their first home loss in December in 10 years or so, the Chiefs are faced with the tumultuous task of having to run the table in order to even have a shot at the postseason. No longer controllers of their own the destiny, the Chiefs over the last two weeks have now been relegated to mediocrity—and that's being generous.

Here are the top five reasons why the Chiefs can go ahead and clear their weekends in January:

5. No killer instinct – To put it simply, when the Chiefs have a lead in the second half, they inevitably go into "don't lose" mode. While leads late in the game haven't necessarily been commonplace for the Chiefs, the few times they are afforded one the game plan suddenly changes. This was no more evident than in the loss against Cleveland that all but solidified the notion the Chiefs will be watching the playoffs from home. To find a team on the other spectrum of this reluctance to win, watch the New Orleans Saints play with a lead or just check out the fourth quarter the Chargers put together on Sunday in pounding the Broncos 48-20.

4. Inconsistent defense – In the last three games the Chiefs have amassed a whopping three sacks of opposing quarterbacks. The Chiefs did manage to beat the Broncos, but thanks in large part to having a twelfth defender throughout that game named Jake Plummer. Jared Allen and Tamba Hali, off to such promising starts to begin the season, have all but disappeared. Many collegiate interior lines could rival the tenacity of the one the Chiefs field. Who suffers the most because of all that poor defensive line play? The defensive backs. For the last time, the ‘Cover 2' is only effective when the opposing quarterback is consistently being pressured. Give a monkey eight seconds to throw the ball and even he would look like a stud. Although the 87-yard touchdown the Chiefs gave up to the Ravens was a blown assignment by the defensive backs, McNair was picking the Chiefs apart all over the field thanks to the disappearance of the defensive line.

3. Can't win on the road – I went into detail on this last week in my column but it deserves reemphasis. The Falcons, Eagles, Giants and Saints all showed their desire to be playing in January by going on the road and winning Sunday. Even the non-playoff bound Bills were able to go into the Meadowlands and deliver a detrimental blow to the Jets. The Chiefs road resume, with wins over the Cardinals and the Rams, is hardly impressive. At least the Chiefs missing the playoffs this year will save us the embarrassment of another first round exit.

2. Clock management – This Achilles heel first came to complete fruition in the Cleveland debacle. The Chiefs had no sense of urgency when playing out the closing minute of the first half against Baltimore. By the time they did with an insurmountable deficit, lo and behold, they actually had success moving the ball. Jet fans had to endure Edwards' poor clock management for many years. After just one season I'm almost ready to be committed to a mental institution because of it. That leads me to the number one reason the Chiefs aren't a playoff team:

1. Poor Coaching – This culminated on Sunday after Patrick Surtain recovered a Baltimore fumble, giving the Chiefs the ball in Raven territory. Edwards calmly decided to give up any momentum his team had by punting the ball on fourth and six from the 39. The Ravens then proceeded to eat up the next nine plus minutes of the fourth quarter. The play calling on Sunday was absolutely atrocious. On 20 first down plays before the last meaningless touchdown drive, the Chiefs passed three times—three. This predictability put the Chiefs in 17 third-down situations and they converted eight of them, pretty respectable. How did they get those first downs? They passed the ball. When Trent Green did have time to throw, there were receivers open. To top it all off the staff had all but given up after Surtain was flagged for pass interference on a third down play late in the game. He claimed the ball was tipped. The trajectory of the ball did indeed change on the replay, but the coaching staff apparently chose not to even view the replay and no challenge was issued.

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