We talked to fellow Scout publisher Nick Athan of Warpaint Illustrated about the Kansas City Chiefs and what has changed since week one and try to find answers for their impressive 10-game winning streak heading into the playoffs.
How has the team changed without Jamaal Charles as the lead back?
Despite the loss of Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs rushing attack has flourished behind the two-headed monster of Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware. Combined the pair have rushed for 1,037 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. Each has a physical style that Head Coach, Andy Reid likes. In addition, both backs are solid in pass protection which has helped KC's offense excel this season under Quarterback, Alex Smith.
How ready is Justin Houston coming off his knee injury and is he ready to play an entire game?
Though he won't say it publicly, Justin Houston wants nothing more than to compete against J.J. Watt in this weekends AFC Wild Card game. The two highest paid defenders in the NFL are set for a clash of the Titans on Saturday but both have dealt with injuries this season. Houston is fully recovered from his knee sprain but will have to wear a protective brace on Saturday. The injury certainly has set him back but he managed to do all the drills in practice this week so he'll be ready to put pressure on Texans Quarterback, Brian Hoyer.
Do the injuries of Jeremy Maclin, Hussain Abdullah, Dee Ford and Mitch Morse concern you?
Jeremy Maclin is ready to go as well. He sat out Tuesday's practice as a precaution. Hussain Abdullah has been dealing with a personal matter and it's unknown if he'll be back with the team for Saturday's contest. As far as Linebacker Dee Ford and Center Mitch Morse, they are still in the concussion protocol. The loss of Ford isn't that critical with the return of Justin Houston. If Morse isn't medically cleared, Zach Fulton, will start at center for the Chiefs.
Marcus Peters showed week one in Houston he is going to be special. How good has his season been?
To me, Marcus Peters is not only the NFL rookie of the year but also the Chiefs MVP in 2015. His success this season has been quite remarkable considering not many NFL GM's thought he was worthy of a first round draft pick. Knowing that the day he arrived in Kansas City last May, he made it clear he had a lot to learn and much to prove to his detractors. I'd say without Peters brilliance, and eight interceptions to date, the Chiefs likely would not have made the post season.
What has been the main focus points of the Chiefs success through this winning streak?
It's a very simple formula for the Chiefs. Win time of possession, don't turn the ball over on offense, score points in the red zone, and on the other side of the ball, stop the run, apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks and create turnovers. Add a solid special teams unity and that formula guided the Chiefs to ten straight victories. Head Coach, Andy Reid has done a great job keeping this team focused on the big prize - winning a Super Bowl. His retooled plan after the teams 1-5 start began to click with his players and they haven't looked back since.
Do you see any carry over from their week one contest and what have the Chiefs changed from that point to now?
I don't because both these teams are different than they were in week one. The Chiefs opened the season with issues at offensive line and in the secondary that contributed to KC's slow start. The Texans were teetering with the quarterback position and multiple injuries of their own. Heading into this game both teams know who they are and what they're capable of doing against one another. That should make this a very even matchup for this Wild Card contest.