After sending a resounding message to the rest of the AFC in the last two weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) take on the Miami Dolphins (6-8) with a second straight division title in sight.
Currently the AFC’s No. 4 seed, the Chiefs have no chance to improve their seeding. The Jaguars (10-4) face the 49ers and Titans in the next two weeks, so while it’s possible KC wins out and the Jaguars lose out, Jacksonville would win the tie-breaker with a better AFC record. So, for the Chiefs and their Magic Number of 1 – a Chiefs win OR Chargers loss clinches the division – they can get if out of the way tomorrow and give many fans what they want and play Patrick Mahomes next week at Denver.
Despite the season sweep, Los Angeles plays the Jets tomorrow, led by Bryce Petty, and the Raiders to end the season, so the Chiefs have a small margin for error.
However, if the Chiefs were to lose tomorrow, it would re-open the AFC West to Chargers, and possibly even the Raiders. Even at 6-8, they have not been eliminated just yet. Falling out of the division race would force them into the mosh pit of teams on the outside, that includes the aforementioned Raiders, along with Miami and Baltimore, who after today’s win, clinches a spot next week (Bengals) with a win. Multiple losses would likely eliminate the Chiefs entirely, so the pendulum could swing large in these final two weeks for the revitalized Chiefs.
However, attacking these three Dolphins weaknesses will go a long way in accomplishing something the franchise has never done before – win consecutive division championships.
1. Pressure Jay Cutler
Besides their Monday Night win against the Patriots, the Dolphins haven’t really played all that well this season. They came crashing back to earth last Sunday, with Cutler tossing three interceptions. The Chiefs have intercepted five in the last two weeks thanks to some creativity (FINALLY) from Bob Sutton and much needed effort on the part of the secondary. With a poor offensive line to boot, the Chiefs pass rush could force Cutler into some untimely mistakes.
2. Force the pass
Running back Kenyan Drake has been an abolsute monster over the last three weeks, rushing for at least 78 yards in each game and he’s given the offense a semblance of balance. If the Chiefs are going to put Miami’s playoff hopes to rest, they’ll need to bottle Drake up. They’re giving up 4.3 YPC on first down, one of the worst marks in football, but I’m hoping the front four allows Derrick Johnson and Reggie Ragland to flow to the ball.
3. Contain Jarvis Landry
It’s not a secret that Jarvis Landry is the Dolphins best receiver, and though he works in the slot, he makes a host of big plays that move the chains. The Chiefs can render the former LSU star nonexistent by dropping defenders into his area, particularly on third down or when Cutler needs a quick completion.
Prediction: The Chiefs offense might be back on track, but I’m wondering how the defense will handle another offense loaded with play making receivers. Cutler bounces between good and bad like no other quarterback in football, and he could light up a struggling secondary. Dolphins 28, Chiefs 26
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