If I had to equate the feeling I had this morning after the game against Seattle I would say it was similar to how I feel after a night of heavy drinking; tired, sick and a little embarrassed. A classic hangover after making a fool of yourself the night before.
Losing another prime time game, against a playoff-calibre opponent, doesn’t show signs of a strong super bowl contender. I seriously started to worry about how we’ll cope in a postseason environment come January. I think the players, coaches and fans alike all had a bit too much to drink and it just didn’t unfold very well for us.
However, as much as those emotions are bound to be present you also tend to look back on, and enjoy, the highlights of the night. Despite the result, Mahomes was incredibly fun to watch. Like seeing your friends take over the dance floor of a night club.
I’m also going to take this opportunity to say that I really liked what I saw from Damien Williams last night. Filling in for Kareem Hunt was a tall order and I think he’s done a great job of it so far; despite the fumble.
103 yards on 13 attempts is a confident stat line going into the final week of the season. He also caught all 7 of his targets for 37 yards, and had a receiving touchdown to go along with it.
So, after knocking back a couple of metaphoric paracetamols this morning, I’ve had time to digest last night’s events and analyse what position this puts the team in going forward.
If we won last night we would’ve been locked in as the AFC’s number one seed, as well as topping our division for the third straight season. Things didn’t pan out that way, but we can still do those things with a win next week, at Arrowhead, against the Raiders. And, with the way Oakland has been playing this season, I don’t think we will find that particularly difficult.
Now here’s where I really started thinking about what Reid’s postseason game plan could be. Last year we had won the AFC West, and secured our place in the playoffs, by week 16. This allowed us to rest our starters in week 17 against the Broncos; and we all know how that panned out. Losing to the Titans in the wildcard round and ending our season earlier than expected.
However, what if Big Red learnt from his mistakes and game-planned to not allow that to happen again? This year we are in a much better position, with a potential bye week instead of having to play in wildcard weekend.
So, with the chance to secure the number one seed in the final matchup of the regular season against a fairly easy team, why not rest our already weak secondary in week 16? As well as Fuller being inactive for the entire game, Berry also saw a reduced snap count during the second half.
Allowing Kendall Fuller, our best cornerback, to rest against the Seahawks was a “gametime decision” according to the coaches. However, I don’t think it was. I think they decided to rest Fuller after the Texans lost to the Eagles. This result gave the team some breathing room, and the opportunity to gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win against either the Seahawks or Raiders. The players and coaches understood that we could still win out despite the result against Seattle.
Now, as for Eric Berry’s reduced playing time. Imagine a scenario where the Chiefs beat the Seahawks last night BUT number 29 got re-injured in the process; putting him out of the playoffs. That would have been the worse bittersweet feeling and would’ve greatly reduced our chances to make a Super Bowl run. However, by resting Berry, we have kept him healthy for another week whilst also knowing we have a very strong chance to still get the top spot in the conference.
I’m not saying that Andy Reid planned to lose last night. However I do believe he put out a younger, weaker, secondary in order to ensure our top guys’ health for the rest of the season. In the post-match interview Reid said: “It was a decision on my part, it was a changeup. Give ‘em an opportunity.” That sounds like the sort of thing a head coach would say in the preseason. However I think there’s more than what meets the eye when it comes to why the game last night went the way it did.
Resting our secondary for a strong playoff run, with the knowledge we can still get a first round bye and home field advantage with a win next week, could be one of two things. Either a stroke of genius by Andy Reid, or a complete lapse in judgement; and only time will tell.
Either way, we need to get this victory next week against a 3-11 team; which saying it’s doable is an understatement. Especially as the Raiders are coming off of a short week as they’re playing the Broncos tonight. Let’s hope we can handle our drink next week and wake up feeling confident that this is a team good enough to make it through the playoffs and represent the AFC in Super Bowl LIII.