KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Week 16’s opponent offers a unique situation for the Chiefs.
If the season ended today, the Chiefs have the No. 5 seed as the top wildcard and would square off against the Indianapolis Colts, who lead the AFC South as the No. 4 seed.
But potentially facing off the Colts in the postseason won’t factor in how the Chiefs prepare this week, such as shying away from play calling in an attempt to not show too much.
“I don’t think you do,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said during Monday’s media session. “We’re far enough along in the year, you have enough in the playbook that you can draw from on both sides of the ball and special teams-wise. I don’t think there’s any reason to do that.”
Of course, there are still two games remaining in the regular season and the Chiefs have more to play for outside of the wildcard spot.
“The season is still alive,” Reid said. “I mean you want to go in and give it your best shot.”
The Chiefs (11-3) are mathematically alive for the No. 1 seed and the AFC West title.
While the Chiefs need outside help, Reid compared how the team will prepare this week for the Colts to when the Chiefs faced the Denver Broncos twice in three weeks.
“I’d probably tell you the same thing I told you about Denver,” Reid said. “Give them your best shot the first time, and then come back two weeks later and give them your best shot then. That’s how we’ll approach it.”
In other words, don’t expect a scaled down version of the team’s line of attack when the Colts (9-5) visit Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
No rush to return
On the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes preparing for the Colts and the postseason is getting healthy.
The Chiefs in recent weeks have been without a corps group of starters, a group that includes outside linebacker Justin Houston (elbow), left tackle Branden Albert (knee), tight end Anthony Fasano (concussion, knee) and wide receiver Dexter McCluster, who missed Week 15 with an infected ankle.
The depth on the team has been a major factor as linebacker Frank Zombo, offensive lineman Donald Stephenson and tight end Sean McGrath have filled in admirably.
Their respective performances afford the Chiefs a luxury to not potentially rush players back, all the while keeping player safety in mind.
“We’re comfortable with the guys healing up,” Reid said. “We’re not forcing anybody back in that’s in a position where they would re-injure themselves.
“We haven’t done that all season, so we’re not going to start doing that now or ever as long as I’m here. That’s not how we roll.”
Still, once the players are ready to return to the lineup, they’ll apparently be welcomed back with no hesitation.
“If the guys can play, then they’re going to play,” Reid said. “That’s what they do. The rest of our season is as important to us as the beginning of the season. We’re not backing off anything there.”
Meanwhile, Reid said Albert, Fasano and Houston are “doing better,” the same applies to McCluster.
“We’ll see how he does here in the next couple of days as we get closer to Wednesday’s practice,” Reid said of McCluster. “But he is moving around better.”
Reid said tight end Demetrius Harris suffered a high ankle sprain last week in practice, and linebacker James-Michael Johnson has a “slight” AC sprain.
Right tackle Eric Fisher, who aggravated a shoulder injury Sunday, was “doing better” Monday, Reid said.
The good news is a lot of the injured players appear ready to return.
“If we would have practiced today, we would have most of them back and ready to go,” Reid said.
Safety Eric Berry returned an interception for a touchdown against the Raiders, giving him two pick-sixes on the season.
And with 11 touchdowns on the season not coming from the offense, the Chiefs continue to find ways into the end zone.
While certainly an added bonus, Reid indicated the team doesn’t depend on those scores.
But he’ll take them in any way they come.
“I’m not sure you count on them as much as you strive to get them,” Reid said. “In this business, you don’t count on anything. You go out and work to earn the right to get yourself in that end zone.”
Notes: Reid gave credit to spread game analyst/special project coach Brad Childress for running back Jamaal Charles’ 1-yard touchdown play … “Part of his (Childress) job is to stay a week or two in advance on each team and he had that one drawn up two weeks ago and ready to go,” Reid said … Reid complimented second-year offensive lineman Donald Stephenson, who has filled in at left tackle for Branden Albert … “I think he could play either tackle at a high level,” Reid said of Stephenson.