Nuge's Nuggets: Playoffs?

I woke up this morning with a clear picture of what I was going to write this afternoon. I figured the Kansas City Chiefs would win this game, but fall short of the playoffs when the Denver Broncos beat the San Francisco 49ers. Sure, I knew the Niners had a chance to win, but there was no way they were beating a fired up Broncos squad, with their playoff lives on the line, in Denver.

Shows how much I know. The Chiefs beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 35-30 in Arrowhead, and frankly, I don't know if I should be talking about the game or the fact the Chiefs somehow backed their way into the playoffs. Especially since I've spent the last month telling our readers the Chiefs aren't a playoff team.

I still don't think this is a great team, but they made the playoffs, and regardless of how they did, they did. Last season, the Chiefs needed several breaks and got few, but this year, everything fell into place. This team has some real strengths, and a couple of them are magnified against their first round opponents, the Indianapolis Colts.

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The Bad News


I've noticed the Chiefs are missing a consistent fire, that intangible passion that puts teams over the top. They didn't have it as a team against the Browns, they didn't have against the Ravens and it surfaced for only a little while against the Chargers. There are players that have it: Larry Johnson, Trent Green and Brian Waters for example, on offense, and Jared Allen, Kawika Mitchell and Patrick Surtain on defense. Bernard Pollard has it. If the Chiefs are going to have playoff success, everyone needs to find itt. Fast.

The Chiefs are still getting an inconsistent push up the middle defensively. Most offenses, particularly those with mobile quarterbacks, are taking advantage of the massive rushing lanes opened when Tamba Hali and Jared Allen get upfield and the defensive tackles do not. It's too late to fix that at this point, so the Chiefs are just going to have to find ways to either pressure the quarterback or hold coverage for 5-7 seconds. The latter is much easier said than done.

Opposing offenses are attacking Ty Law. He made the Jaguars pay on his interception and return deep in Jacksonville territory, but teams are attacking the large cushion he's been giving and letting their receivers make plays. The Chiefs better develop a plan to counteract that.

Jason Dunn got placed on injured reserve at the worst possible time. They sure could use him to pound the ball against Indy's soft run defense.

Despite LJ's success, the Chiefs offense has not played well. Don't be fooled by a four-touchdown game. The unit has its moments, but overall they're not playing very well. The Chiefs failed to get off on the snap at the same time after Johnson's big run in the second quarter. The right side of the line got off a full half second AFTER the ball was snapped. Plays like that equal defenses playing on the Chiefs side of the line of scrimmage. That makes it awfully tough for LJ to pick his way for yards.

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The Good News


This Chiefs team, despite its offensive line woes, runs the ball as well as any other team in the NFL. They also play solid defense, which is definitely a recipe for success in the playoffs. They have warts, but all of the other teams do as well. Indianapolis can't stop the run. Baltimore isn't that strong on offense. The Chiefs have familiarity with the Chargers. Kansas City definitely has a shot.

Mike Solari showed some creativity calling plays offensively. Herm called it desperation, but we all know that's a team pulling out all the stops to win. A flea flicker? A halfback pass? Those are high-risk plays, but if the Chiefs can pull them off, they are game winners.

Bernard Pollard is a playmaker, period. I have a feeling he'll be a factor in the postseason.

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