As we enter the NFL postseason, it’s worth examining which Kansas City Chiefs players are improving and who may be facing challenges as they prepare for the Wild Card game against the Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium this weekend. The Chiefs recently achieved a significant victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, with lively celebrations and dancing on the sidelines. This win secured their division, allowed them to rest their starters, beat the Chargers, and improve Chris Jones’s performance.
The Chiefs have streamlined their offense, built a strong reliance on their defense, and recognized key focal points. With this level of preparation, they have the potential to succeed in playoff games through effective execution. As we look forward to their game against the Dolphins on Saturday, here are a few players who might be trending for the Chiefs.
Isiah Pacheco (Running back): It is now the postseason, which means the weather is cold and the stakes are high. This team has shifted its focus to a more conservative offense and a strong defense. Their interior offensive line can dominate opposing defenses when given the chance. To make matters even more favorable, the Miami Dolphins are struggling with injuries on their defensive front. With all these factors taken into consideration, it’s clear that the player who runs with unparalleled determination and speed, Pacheco, is the one to watch in this game. He hopes to get at least 20 carries and help the Chiefs secure a victory.
L’Jarius Sneed (Defensive back): All of the teams that faced the Chiefs this season are now aware that Sneed is a highly skilled cornerback. This includes the Dolphins and Tyreek Hill who had a difficult time in their previous encounter. During that game, Hill could only manage 62 yards on eight catches and even fumbled which ultimately led to the Chiefs’ victory. Despite his impressive performance, Sneed was not selected for the Pro Bowl or named first-team All-Pro. However, this has only served to motivate him even more, and he is expected to make a significant impact on Saturday night. Keep an eye out for the entire secondary delivering big hits, and for Sneed’s shutdown performance.
Tight end Travis Kelce: The best player of all time at his position, Travis Kelce, has had a challenging season. He suffered injuries and missed the opening week. Moreover, he chose to sit out the final game, which prevented him from reaching 1,000 yards for the eighth consecutive season. However, his decision to prioritize getting himself healthy for the playoffs instead of chasing individual stats may have been his best move since reaching out to Taylor Swift. Kelce has been exceptional in the postseason, making some of the most crucial plays in Chiefs’ history. On average, he catches around eight passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns per game during the postseason in his career. Such performance can make the Chiefs’ offense resemble the one that won two Super Bowls in the last four years.
Here are some players who are making good progress: offensive lineman Joe Thuney, defensive lineman Chris Jones, EDGE George Karlaftis, wide receiver Rashee Rice, wide receiver Mecole Hardman, left tackle Donovan Smith, cornerback Trent McDuffie, tight end Travis Kelce, tight end Noah Gray, linebacker Drue Tranquill, and kicker Harrison Butker.
During the 2023 season, Blake Bell, Kadarius Toney, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who have consistently struggled to perform well, have faced challenges in finding productive roles within the Chiefs’ offense. They have been marked by frustrating drops and a lack of impactful plays that overshadow their mistakes. As the postseason approaches, it may be too optimistic to expect significant improvement from them.
The Chiefs have other options in players like Noah Gray, Mecole Hardman, and Rashee Rice, who deserve more opportunities, particularly in the upcoming game against the Dolphins. It is unlikely that Toney or Valdes-Scantling can suddenly contribute to a playoff run, so it is essential to prioritize clean football and stick to the most consistent and reliable options available for the team to advance in the playoffs.
Value (sleeper) pick: Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Jerick McKinnon has been ruled out for the postseason, which means that the running back position is now solely occupied by Isiah Pacheco and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Although La’Mical Perine had a decent performance in Week 18, the Chiefs are likely to rely on the experience and dependability of the “known quantities” in this crucial phase of the season.
Both Pacheco and Edwards-Helaire have shown they can be effective pass-catchers, but Edwards-Helaire may have an advantage as a route runner. The Chiefs should consider incorporating screenplays and giving both players opportunities to act as actual receivers.
Edwards-Helaire’s performance towards the end of the season, when Pacheco was unavailable, suggests that he has the potential to shine. Pacheco may rack up more yards, but Edwards-Helaire could make a significant impact by finding the end zone and possibly breaking a long pass play this week.
This post originally appeared on Arrowhead Pride