Kansas City Chiefs: Why the Next 2 Weeks Are Vital for the Rest of the Season

Ben GartlandAnalyst IISeptember 15, 2011

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 11:  Quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs walks off the field after failing to make a first down during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Coming off their best season in five years, the Kansas City Chiefs fans were excited for this year to come, hoping for a return to the playoffs.

However, the thrashing received from Oakland and Baltimore in the last weeks of the season carried over to the 2011 preseason, where they looked abysmal, going 0-4.

Yet, some fans weren't wavered, claiming the preseason didn't matter, and that it would be different in the regular season. Surprisingly enough, it was.

They hadn't lost 41-7 in the preseason.

Suddenly, the Chiefs are close to being in panic mode. A home loss that bad to Buffalo warrants a certain amount of worry. The season is still far from over, but they need to act fast.

These next two games are vital to the rest of the season.

If the Chiefs want any chance of going .500 on the season, let alone return to the playoffs, they need to pull a win out of one of these games, if not both.

First off, the Chiefs travel to take on the Detroit Lions. The Lions are an extremely tough team and not one that the Chiefs should be excited to play.

They are still beatable. If the Chiefs can use their run game to open up the pass play, then they might stand a chance. In Week 1, the Bills proficiently stopped the Chiefs excellent run game, and forced Matt Cassel to pass. We then saw that Cassel isn't the best when forced to pass, also shown in the playoff game against Baltimore.

It also didn't help that offensive coordinator Bill Muir refused to call a passing play over 10 yards, but still.

That's another thing that's vital about this weekend. Muir tried to outsmart the Bills last Sunday but ended up outsmarting himself with nonsensical screen plays and losing all focus on the running game.

This week against Detroit, and next week against San Diego are the "Do or die" weeks for Muir. He left an unfavorable impression against the Bills, and will have to make better play calls if he wants to keep his OC job.

If Muir can keep from outsmarting himself, then the Chiefs have a chance of winning one or even both of these games.

That is, if the defense can get itself together.

It's one thing to put up only seven points at home, but another thing to give up 41 on defense. It has been long known that the defensive line would be the weak-link for the Chiefs this season, but giving up 41 points is inexcusable, and they need to repair the damage.

They can do that by applying pressure on Matthew Stafford and forcing him to make some rare mistakes. It's vital that they figure out how to pressure the quarterback and stuff the run this week, otherwise teams will run all over the Chiefs all season.

If they can make Stafford make some mistakes, then it will be up to the secondary to capitalize on them, which they seem to do. The Chiefs have a very good secondary, even without the injured Eric Berry. The replacement in John McGraw is going to have to step up and be a presence in the secondary. He is the replacement for the entire season and if he can produce against the solid Lions' receivers, then there may still be hope for the rest of the season.

Both on offense and defense, the Chiefs have certain people who need to step up in order to turn around the momentum of the season, but the entire team needs to step up collectively to help in the aforementioned momentum changing.

Getting schalacked 41-7 at home in the opener isn't a very good morale boost. A win or two before coming home to face the Vikings on October 2 would give this young team a certain sense of morale for the rest of the season.

The Chiefs and their fans should not give up on this season just yet. After all, it is just Week One. In 2003, the Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots 31-0 in the home opener. Now, remind me who had home-field advantage in the playoffs and won the Super Bowl that year? (For those too lazy to Google it, it was in fact the Patriots.) So there isn't too much to worry about.

But what New England did was win their next two games. With a 2-1 record, people seemed to forget about the schalaking they got from the Bills. At the end of the season, when they finished 14-2 and were hoisting the Lombardy trophy, I can guarantee that no Patriots fan was thinking of the Week 1 loss.

So Chiefs, you have an opportunity to wipe that entire game away. The entire fate of the season rests on these next two games against Buffalo and San Diego. The Chiefs can either rise to the occasion and return to the level of last year, or they can regress backwards from the exceptional season.