KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Playoff optimism survives for the Chiefs despite Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But the hunt for the postseason comes with a reality check.
“You’re sitting here at the end of a long season with an opportunity,” coach Andy Reid told reporters Monday. “We need help now. Not only do we need to take care of business this weekend, but we need some other people to do the same thing for us to get in.”
The scenario for the Chiefs (8-7) is rather simple and it starts by beating the San Diego Chargers (9-6) at Arrowhead Stadium.
Then the Chiefs need the Baltimore Ravens (9-6) to lose to the Cleveland Browns (7-8) and the Houston Texans (8-7) to lose or tie against the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12).
The Ravens host the Browns at M&T Bank Stadium where Baltimore is 5-2 this season, while Houston hosts the Jaguars at NRG Stadium where the Texans are 4-3 in 2014.
Kansas City has a massive obstacle to overcome in the Browns-Ravens game, as Cleveland ruled out quarterback Johnny Manziel and quarterback Brian Hoyer is dealing with a shoulder injury.
The Browns could start rookie quarterback Connor Shaw, Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reports.
It is the time of year when miracles happen, and the Chiefs will need not one, but two in order to get in the playoffs.
Kansas City seeks that opportunity to let the chips fall where they may.
“If you get in, then anything goes,” Reid said. “You’ve seen that year-in and year-out for many years here. When teams get in the playoffs, you can throw the records out and you go play.”
No position group is under the microscope like the offensive line, a unit that allowed the Steelers to sack quarterback Alex Smith six times.
Reid took a moment Monday with reporters to address the unit’s progression over the course of the season.
“We’ve had some injuries and so on there and over the time,” Reid said. “Nobody has made excuses. Guys have come in, they battle you. It’s not always pretty. That’s not what it is, but they claw and scratch and get the most out of their abilities and that is how they roll.”
The primary injury the Chiefs had to overcome was guard/tackle Jeff Allen’s season-ending elbow injury suffered in Week 1. Left guard Mike McGlynn recently dealt with a quad contusion and right guard Zach Fulton suffered a foot injury against the Steelers.
Still, the Chiefs offensive line as a whole has struggled mightily in protecting the quarterback through 15 regular-season games.
Smith, who has been sacked 20 times in the past five games, established a career-high 45 times sacks in a single season after Sunday’s game.
Reid acknowledged the issues, but said his players are giving their best.
“Some games have been better than others,” Reid said, “but it is not from a lack of effort or toughness or any of that. They are going to give you everything they’ve got.”
Meanwhile, the problems on Kansas City’s offensive line extend to 2013, Reid’s and Smith’s first year in Kansas City, when Smith was sacked 39 times.
Smith has been sacked 84 total times since he joined the Chiefs, marking the highest total in a two-year span on his 10-year career.
The Chiefs terminated the contract of linebacker Darin Drakeford from the practice squad/injured list, according to Monday’s NFL Transactions report.
The Chiefs signed Drakeford, who played collegiately at Maryland, to the 10-man practice squad on Oct. 23 before placing him on the injured list on Nov. 24 with an undisclosed injury.
SNAP COUNT OBSERVATION
Rookie wide receiver Albert Wilson played 58 of team’s 66 offensive snaps against the Steelers to lead all skill position players. Running back Jamaal Charles logged the second-highest snaps with 54.
Wilson started at the split end position in place of Donnie Avery, who was a healthy inactive, and recorded five receptions for 87 yards on seven targets.
Wilson, an undrafted rookie out of Georgia State, has emerged in the last three games, totaling 12 catches for 209 yards on 20 targets during that span.