Desperate Teams Face-Off … GameDay Cup O’Chiefs

From East Rutherford, New Jersey

Back when the NFL schedule was announced – and the owners had shut down the league with their lockout of the players – this game looked like one that would be among Week No. 14′s best matchups.

The defending AFC West champions Chiefs would be on the road against the New York Jets, who for the second straight season advanced to the AFC Championship game before losing and missing out on a trip to the playoffs. These were teams headed up on the NFL charts, with the Jets a step or two ahead of the Chiefs.

But these teams carry very different pictures as they head for kickoff Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium here in the swamps of Jersey. Kickoff is noon CST and television coverage is on CBS.

The Chiefs and Jets have been two of the AFC’s biggest disappointments. If you shake out the conference after 12 games, the Jets are ranked No. 9 with their 7-5 record. The Chiefs would fall at No. 11 with their 5-7 record.

Only six teams will make the AFC playoffs. Needless to say these teams are not in good positions with four games to go. For all intent and purposes, the post-season has already begun. Neither one of these teams can afford to lose.

Haley kicked that off last week, breaking the rest of the season into a 5-game run where the Chiefs knew they needed to go 5-0 if they really wanted to make the playoffs. They took step No. 1 last Sunday in Chicago, winning a 10-3 defensive struggle.

“It’s the biggest game of the year for us and I thought the guys had a very good week of preparation,” Haley said on Friday. “I think they understand the seriousness of the situation.”

There’s no doubt in the mind of Jets coach Rex Ryan that his team is aware of the circumstances facing them.

“We know what’s at stake,” Ryan said. “We have to win this game. All the scenarios in the world, they say well, three out of four, you might get in. There’s no scenario of where you can lose an AFC game. We have to win the two remaining AFC games and we’ll worry about the other stuff later. We know we have to have this game. So with that understanding, I think that’s dialed up the intensity and the focus.”

The key factor in why both of these teams have been disappointing this season is offense. The Chiefs have never been able to be a consistent point producer without RB Jamaal Charles, TE Tony Moeaki and then QB Matt Cassel. They are 30th in scoring in the league, putting up less than 14 points per game.

They’ve scored two touchdowns in the last 58 offensive possessions.

“On offense if one person is not doing their job it can affect the whole play or the whole series,” said QB Tyler Palko. “We’ve just got to continue to keep forging ahead and eliminating mistakes.”

The defensive-minded Ryan sees problems for his defense against the Chiefs.

“It’s not like this team (Chiefs) is going to run it 60 times and throw it eight times or whatever Denver did that one game,” Ryan said. “That’s not what we’re getting. This team is capable of throwing the football. They have big time wide outs on the outside. We have to be dialed in. They’ll run Wildcat. They’ll run bootlegs. This kid Palko is pretty decent on the move. They present some problems. They have a 6’7″ tight end. They are certainly a challenge out there.”

The Jets have put up more points than the Chiefs, but their yardage totals are pretty much the same. New York hasn’t really gotten its running game going behind Shonn Greene and La Dainian Tomlinson. Plus, QB Matt Sanchez has struggled. He’s turned the ball over 16 times (11 interceptions, 5 fumbles lost) and is completing just 56.5 percent of his passes.

The home fans have expressed their displeasure, something Ryan hopes does not happen again on Sunday. “I think we’re going to introduce the offense again this week,” Ryan said of the pre-game introductions. “I’ll bet you he doesn’t get booed this time. He’s had two fourth-quarter wins since (the first time he was booed).

“I think our fans definitely understand where we are. We’re fighting for our playoff lives, so they understand that. Have we made it easy to be a Jets fan all these weeks? Probably not like we’ve wanted to, but again, the one thing they know from our team is you’re going to get everything we have.”

The math remains too tough to figure out how the entire AFC falls together in the post-season picture. The basics are obvious. The Chiefs cannot lose and expect to remain a contender for a spot in the playoffs. The Jets cannot afford to lose; falling to the Chiefs would make their life very miserable and tough over the final three weeks.

“It’s really the playoffs for us,” said LB Derrick Johnson. “We understand that. We can’t afford to lose. We lose and it’s pretty much over. I don’t know what all the standings are, but I know we want to go to the playoffs and we can’t afford to lose.”

One Response to “Desperate Teams Face-Off … GameDay Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 11, 2011  - Chuck says:

    I guess I look at the situation differently. I don’t really feel the Chiefs are a dissapointment. When you lose 4 of your very best players of which 3 are on offense I feel that 5-7 is actually pretty good. Two ProBowlers and your starting QB + Tony M. a very good (if not great) tight end. I think we have done pretty well all things considered.

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