The Kansas City Chiefs are 8-6 and on the brink of clinching their spot in the 2017 playoffs. After defeating the Los Angeles Chargers 30-13, the Chiefs find themselves one win away from clinching the AFC West and guaranteeing a home playoff game. If Kansas City wants to punch their ticket to the post season, the team will have to beat the visiting Miami Dolphins. Here are the week 16 Kansas City Chiefs keys to victory.
Week 16 Kansas City Chiefs Keys to Victory
Brave the Cold
Sunday’s forecast currently calls for a high temperature of 35 degrees at Arrowhead, which will be the coldest game the Chiefs have played so far this season. Last week, the Dolphins played in Buffalo against the Bills and it was very clear they were not interested in playing in the cold weather. They did not look sharp and looked like they were ready to get the season over with and start making plans for warmer weather.
The Chiefs will have to come out and play hot. Andy Reid’s squad has started to find its footing on both sides of the ball and will need to keep adding to the momentum they’ve built over the past two weeks with convincing wins over the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers. As always in the NFL, it’s not always the best team but the team that is playing the best that wins in the post season.
Run the Football
It cannot be a coincidence that the Chiefs have gotten back to their winning ways while the running game has improved. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt has rushed for 271 yards over the past two weeks and will be playing against the 13th ranked running defense.
Miami is currently giving up just under 110 yards per game, so Hunt and the Chiefs should be able to find some room on the ground this weekend. With the cold weather and a small chance of snow, the Chiefs will need to be able to move the ball on the ground if they want to clinch their spot in the playoffs this weekend.
If the Chiefs are serious about making noise in the post season, running the ball will be essential. A strong running game will be necessary to beat some of the other teams in the AFC, as Kansas City will have to take the show on the road if they are able to get past the first round of the playoffs. Keeping the offensive line healthy and Hunt productive will keep the momentum going into the post season.
Keep the Pressure
Bob Sutton’s defense has suddenly become a smothering unit again, and a lot of it is thanks to the defensive line collapsing the pocket. The team of Chris Jones, Allen Bailey, Bennie Logan, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Jarvis Jenkins will need to keep this high level of play up both this weekend and moving forward.
The improvements along the defensive line have helped both Justin Houston and Tamba Hali with collapsing the edges, which has caused panic among opposing quarterbacks. Jay Cutler will be just as skittish if the Chiefs can get in his face this weekend, which will create plenty of opportunities for the Chiefs to intercept the ball down the field. Two of Philip Rivers’ interceptions last week were due in part to the pressure coming from the front seven and getting Rivers off of his spot, making him uncomfortable.
The pressure doesn’t just come from the defense – the Chiefs offense has to keep their foot on the pedal and continue to press the ball down field. Since Matt Nagy has taken over play calling duties, the offense has gone back to its dynamic ways and is punishing teams for making mistakes in coverage. The Chiefs will need to continue showing the ability to push the ball deep to Tyreek Hill while also dominating the middle of the field with Travis Kelce. The two places the Chiefs need to focus on over the next two weeks are on third down and in the red zone. Kansas City will need to be aggressive and successful in those two areas if they want to realize the ultimate goal of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.