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Chiefs search for right balance on short week

Posted Nov 4, 2011

After an emotionally and physically draining victory over San Diego, the Chiefs face another difficult challenge

Mentally, the Chiefs don’t look the part of a team primed for a letdown game against winless Miami. Chiefs players and coaches are saying all the right things this week and their words sound genuine.

Riding a four-game winning streak with back-to-back home games on the horizon, the Chiefs have come too far since their 0-3 start to fall into a trap now.

But sometimes, especially on a short week, it’s the body that must catch up with the mind.

“We’ve watched this team on film and this is a good physical team and they’ve played a lot good opponents throughout the year and this is not a team that we take lightly at all,” QB Matt Cassel said. “This is a team that’s going to come out and play physical for four quarters and we have to play our best football in order to win.”

It’s the physical part of Sunday’s game that the Chiefs must find a response for after leaving everything on the field in a physically and emotionally draining win over San Diego Monday night.

Coach Todd Haley has been mindful his team’s physical stature despite operating on a short week. He chose to hold a walkthrough instead of a full practice Wednesday afternoon and opted to keep the pads off the team during Thursday’s practice session.

Haley has also cut back repetitions for some the Chiefs most heavily-used players Thursday afternoon.

 “This short week presents a challenge both physically and mentally and we’re working on both ends to try and make sure that our team is ready to go and ready to play their best game,” Haley said.

It was just last season that a winless Buffalo Bills team came into Arrowhead and nearly crashed Kansas City’s Halloween party with its first victory of the season.

It took the division-leading Chiefs all five quarters to put away the Bills 13-10 on an overtime field goal as time expired.

“Paying attention to just the record with this team will be very dangerous and you would pay for it dearly from our perspective,” Haley said. “This is a well-coached team, a team that like you said has not only been in close games, but the teams that they have played are pretty strong teams.

Miami has been in position to win each of its last two games, but has been unable to shut the door on opponents.

The Dolphins melted down in the closing minutes of a home game against Denver two weeks ago and allowed the Giants to stage a comeback victory in New York last Sunday.

On both occasions the Dolphins jumped out to two-score leads before coughing up a chance at victory.

 

“We’ve been there,” said S Jon McGraw, who was part of the Chiefs 2-14 team in 2008 as well as Kansas City’s 0-5 start to 2009. “This team has been in that position before and we know how desperate those guys are for a win and the amount of pride that they have.

“Nobody wants to go out there and get embarrassed or lose a bunch of ball games. We were there for a couple of games at the beginning of this season, so we’re expecting to get their best effort.”

Statistically, the Dolphins rank better than the Chiefs in several key offensive and defensive categories including total offense, pass offense, rush defense and points allowed.

Kansas City and Miami are comparable in several other critical statistical categories as well.

“When you go back and look at some of the games they’ve lost, they’ve been in quite a few,” McGraw said. “It’s just a few plays here or there that can make a difference. Our game a few nights ago was indicative of that. You never know which play its going to be that changes the outcome of the game.”

“I don’t understand how they haven’t won a game yet,” RB Jackie Battle added. “Defensively, especially against the run, they’re real aggressive and they have speed on the edge and linebackers who can run. I don’t see how they haven’t won a game yet.”

Overall, Miami’s opponents have a combined record of 28-22. Aside from a 24-6 loss to the Jets on Monday Night Football, Miami has been competitive in most every game they’ve played.

“I don’t look at their record,” Battle re-iterated. “They’re better than what their record is.”

Between the good vibes in the locker room and players arriving, but leaving late this week, the Chiefs appear mentally ready to play again coming off an emotionally-charged victory.

It’s the physical push and pull that Haley is trying to balance coming off a short week.

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