With the contest coming up between the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs, it was natural that we talk with Chiefs blog Arrowhead Pride lead man, Joel Thorman. Here is what he told me about the Cardinals' next opponent.
Jess Root: At 7-5, the Chiefs are one of a number of AFC teams in the playoff mix. What is the current playoff state for KC? What do they need to happen
Joel Thorman: The Chiefs have the best chance of making the playoffs among the six 7-5 teams, according to a number of outlets. The Chiefs probably need to win three of their final four to feel good about making the playoffs. The problem is, if the team that played the last two weeks in losses to Oakland and Denver shows up, the Chiefs won't be winning any more games. Kansas City needs to treat every game as a must win from here on out because that's basically what these games mean. If the Chiefs were to lose one game though, I would rather it be this game against the Cardinals because they're an NFC team. The AFC race is tight so tiebreakers in the AFC will be important.
JR: In Year 2 of the Alex Smith era, what do Chiefs fans think of him?
JT: We're talking about Alex Smith so of course the opinion is split. I think he's done a decent job protecting the ball and coming up with some crucial third down conversions. He doesn't have very many three-INT games so he's going to keep you in most games. The problem comes when the Chiefs play from behind, as they have the last two weeks in 14-0 and 17-0 deficits. The Chiefs lost both those games because of their inability to come from behind. Once you make Kansas City one dimensional, their effectiveness on offense drops dramatically.
JR: Just how good is the KC defense? The numbers look good.
JT: They're good at stopping opponents from scoring but there's some more concern. The run defense is not very good. In fact, the Chiefs rank last in the NFL in yards per carry allowed. That has been the downfall for the Chiefs the last few weeks but the run defense has been an issue for most of the season. The pass defense has been very good, partially because of the way the players have played and partially because their pass defense numbers are helped by the run defense. Kansas City doesn't have many stars in the secondary but they have done a great job stopping the big plays, which was the biggest problem last year.
JR: What is the injury status of the Chiefs? Who, if anyone, might miss the game on Sunday?
JT: The Chiefs are in good shape on the injury front right now. Junior Hemingway is a reserve receiver who may not play with a concussion. The same goes for Allen Bailey, who is a really good defensive end. He is one of the linemen in nickel too so that would be an adjustment if he can't go. The Chiefs could also be missing starting guard Mike McGlynn, who has struggled quite a bit lately. Chiefs fans would probably prefer to try something new at guard anyway. Outside of that, it doesn't appear any major injuries will prevent Chiefs players from suiting up on Sunday.
JR: If the Cardinals shut down Jamaal Charles and the running game, which is something they have done against most teams, how will the Chiefs go offensively?
JT: They'll probably struggle. The Chiefs are at their best when they run the ball well. See games against New England and Seattle for evidence of that. The Chiefs are not a good team when they become one-dimensional. That said, not a lot of teams can completely shut Jamaal Charles out. The best way to do that is to get up on the Chiefs early and force them to pass the ball down the field, which is not their strength.
Prediction: I have the Chiefs winning, 16-13. Really, though, this is a total toss-up game. The Cardinals are a slight favorite. You can't knock any prediction on this game because it should be close.
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