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The Kansas City Chiefs’ season ended in disappointment as they fell at the first hurdle in the playoffs, suffering a defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Chiefs secured a first-round bye in the post-season due to their excellent form, winning 12 of their 16 matches – achieving their best record since the 2003 campaign.
However, their term ended in familiar circumstances, with the club failing to beat quality opposition in January, failing to overcome the Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium.
Head coach Andy Reid has been maligned in the past for his teams’ failure to win on a consistent basis in the playoffs, having experienced similar issues during his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Although the Chiefs have been extremely consistent since his arrival questions remain about whether he is the man to lead them towards the Super Bowl and the quality of quarterback Alex Smith against high-level counterparts.
Despite their issues Kansas City remain one of the strongest teams in the NFL. We’ll now look back at their 2016 and see where they can improve for the next campaign to avoid a premature exit.
The Chiefs were put on the back foot immediately in their opener by the San Diego Chargers, who raced into a 24-3 lead in the third quarter.
However, Tyreek Hill inspired a comeback, with Reid’s men scoring 17-straight points to send the game into overtime thanks to a touchdown from Spencer Ware. Smith then won the game for his team with a two-yard on their first possession in the extended period.
For as well as they played in the fourth quarter; the Chiefs took a huge step back to lose to the Houston Texans in week two. Kansas City hammered the Texans in the 2015 wildcard round, but couldn’t conjure the same magic as Smith and company struggled in a 19-12 defeat at NRG Stadium.
The New York Jets were cannon fodder for the Chiefs in week three as the offense found their rhythm, putting the AFC East outfit to the sword with ease at Arrowhead Stadium in a 24-3 win.
However, they were on the receiving end of a hammering on the road against the Steelers, with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown putting on a clinic to ease their side to a comfortable victory.
The Chiefs responded to their defeat with an outstanding performance on the road to quell the offensive power of the Oakland Raiders. Derek Carr and his offense were one of the strongest units in the NFL, but Reid’s men limited them to just 10 points, securing a comfortable victory.
Kansas City then put forward two clean performances to overcome another two teams with potent offenses. The defense and the running game allowed Smith to manage the game to drive his side to defeat the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts. Neither Drew Brees nor Andrew Luck managed to find a rhythm, struggling against Bob Sutton’s defense.
The Chiefs eased their way past the Jacksonville Jaguars without a great deal of difficulty, but had to rely on their comeback skills to defeat the Carolina Panthers on the road.
Eric Berry returned an interception for a touchdown to bring his side back into the game late in the fourth quarter before Cairo Santos levelled the scores with a field goal. Marcus Peters then stripped Kelvin Benjamin of the ball, allowing the kicker to send a match-winning effort through the posts.
Their joy turned to disappointment a week later with arguably their worst display of the term in a defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Smith and his offense struggled once again, leaving themselves too much to do late in the match, losing by two points.
The Chiefs’ playmaking skills late in matches kept them in touch at the top of the AFC with back-to-back wins over the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons.
Reid’s men produced a miraculous victory on the road to beat Denver, with Hill notching a touchdown strike with 12 seconds remaining before Demetrius Harris caught the two-point conversion. Santos then kicked his side to victory in overtime with two efforts from 30 yards.
Berry took centre stage in their clash against the Falcons when Matt Ryan and company were aiming to take a late lead with a two-point conversion. The safety intercepted the quarterback in the endzone and ran the ball 100 yards to notch the game-winning score for the visitors.
The club stifled Carr and company for the second time of the term to defeat the Raiders – this time on home soil earning the crucial tie-break over their rivals. However, Reid’s men suffered another disappointing defeat at home, losing to the Tennessee Titans on a last-second field goal.
Comfortable wins over the Broncos and Chargers ended the regular campaign on a high note, clinching the number two seed in the AFC.
Reid made the curious decision to allow his side the week off during their bye and that decision did not help the Chiefs as the Steelers dominated their divisional round clash. Only their redzone defense kept them in the match with the boot of Chris Boswell sending Pittsburgh into a 15-7 lead.
Santos reduced the deficit but Boswell put his side eight points ahead in the fourth quarter. Although Ware notched the touchdown their two-point conversion was nullified by Eric Fisher’s hold on James Harrison, condemning the Chiefs to defeat.
The Chiefs do not have many areas of need heading into the 2017 season, having locked down the majority of their key players. Berry signed a long-term extension to commit his future to the franchise, while utility man Daniel Sorensen also penned a new deal.
Kansas City made the decision to cut ties with veteran running back Jamaal Charles. The 30-year-old was outstanding player for a number of season, but injuries limited his impact over the past two seasons, failing to justify his high salary on the roster.
CJ Spiller was signed to cover for his departure, while Ware has proven to be a quality back since assuming starting duties in 2015. With a number of talented backs available in the draft, the club may even use one of their early selections to bolster their corps alongside Smith.
Dontari Poe was allowed to leave to join the Falcons, having failed to live up to his draft stock after being selected 11th overall in 2012. Bennie Logan was brought in to replace the defensive tackle to add talent to the line that was pushed around at times last season.
There are a number of talented pass-rushers available and that could intrigue the Chiefs given Tamba Hali’s age and Justin Houston’s injury problems. Dee Ford has been a capable deputy, but he is in need of support should the senior players take a step back due to their issues. At 27th overall there should be a number of talented men available.
The Chiefs are an interesting team given that they have a lot of talented players, but for one reason or another cannot get over the line in the playoffs.
It’s extremely similar to when Reid coached the Eagles and his side fell short in the post-season, including their Super Bowl defeat to the Patriots.
They play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL and will have a hard time securing home-field advantage in the post-season once again next term due to the presence of the Patriots and Steelers along with the Raiders in the AFC West.
Reid’s men will need to be flawless in their pursuit of their first Super Bowl crown since the 1969 season.
The Chiefs have enough talent between Hill, Ware and Travis Kelce on offense, and Berry, Houston, Ford and Peters on defense.
Therefore they’re an intriguing bet at +1000 with TopBet sportsbook to win the AFC – you have to think with their quality roster they have to make their breakthrough eventually!
As a result, the Vince Lombardi trophy is also not out of the question at a good price of +2000 .
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