<
>

Three areas Chiefs must improve to advance deep into playoffs

The Chiefs have a 1-3 playoff record during the Andy Reid-Alex Smith regime. Peter Aiken/Getty Images

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) will attempt to improve their ugly postseason record over the past 25 years when they face the Tennessee Titans (9-7) at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday in the wild-card round.

The Chiefs are 1-10 in the postseason dating back to their AFC Championship Game loss to the Buffalo Bills in the 1993 season. Arrowhead, generally considered one of the NFL’s toughest venues for visiting teams to play in, has been of no value to the Chiefs in the playoffs. They are 0-5 at home and 1-5 on the road during this period.

Some of their playoff struggles are ancient history, built by players and coaches who are long gone -- but some of them aren't. Coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith, for instance, are responsible for the one victory, two years ago against the Texans in Houston, but also three defeats.

There are some common threads that bind together all this losing. Improve in these three areas and the chances are good the Chiefs will beat the Titans and make a deep run in the playoffs.

  1. Scoring woes. The offense has been shut down frequently during these 11 games. The Chiefs averaged 18.5 points per game in the 11 games, which isn’t horrible. It’s also not good enough and the figure is bolstered by losses in which the Chiefs scored 44 and 31 points. Four times, the Chiefs scored 10 or fewer points. The situation has improved since Reid and Smith arrived in 2013. The Chiefs are averaging 27.5 points in those four games. But they should be concerned about the scoring trend in those four games as their point totals have decreased with each game, from 44 (2013) to 30 and 20 (2015) to 16 (2016).

  2. Turnover deficiency. The Chiefs have in many playoff seasons been among the NFL leaders in turnover differential. But they have posted a negative turnover differential in seven of these playoff games. In 2015, when they were second in the league during the regular season in differential, they were minus-1 in turnovers in their playoff loss to the Patriots. Last season, they were tied for first during the regular season but also minus-1 in their postseason loss to the Steelers. Beware this year against the Titans. The Chiefs were second in the league in turnover differential (plus-15).

  3. No defensive touchdowns. The Chiefs have done a good job of converting these turnovers directly into points. In their four playoff years under Reid, including this season, the Chiefs have 20 defensive touchdowns in the regular season. But they haven’t scored on defense in any of these 11 playoff games. Their opponents haven’t either, but the Chiefs have generally relied on such points to bolster an inconsistent offense. When they didn’t come, the Chiefs often struggled to score.