The Chiefs look for the road-field advantage in the playoffs.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Hey, it’s a thing.
The Chiefs, who head to Indianapolis on Saturday for their first postseason appearance since 2010, are the only AFC playoff team with a better record on the road than at home this season.
Even with Sunday’s loss at San Diego, the Chiefs went 6-2 away from Arrowhead Stadium and 5-3 in the friendly confines.
Among the 12 playoff teams, only the Eagles joined the Chiefs with a better road mark this season, and as a division winner the Eagles open at home.
“The team has confidence they go into another stadium, a loud stadium, and play good, solid productive football,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
Want a league-wide trend? Since 1990, when the NFL introduced a second wild-card team, giving each conference five playoff contests — two first-round games, two division playoffs and a conference title — before the Super Bowl, not a year has passed without at least one road team winning.
In the AFC, at least two road teams have won a playoff game in nine of the last 10 years. In the NFC, at least two road teams have come through in nine of the last 11.
It could be argued that the Chiefs were as or more competitive on the road than at home. They didn’t beat Denver or San Diego in any stadium, but results were similar. Both losses to the Chargers were by a field goal. The Broncos won by 10 in Denver and seven in Kansas City.
The team’s most decisive loss came at Arrowhead, to the Colts, who won 23-7 on Dec. 22.
Now, the rematch at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Chiefs won their most recent appearance in 2011.
“It’s the start of a new season, it’s another phase,” Reid said. “You worked very hard to get into this position, and now it’s important that you exhaust yourself.”
Which explains Sunday’s back-up plan. Reid rested the majority of starters, and the Chiefs got encouraging performances from several in the overtime loss, notably quarterback Chase Daniel, running back Knile Davis, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and cornerback Rob Parker.
“The depth of our football team, it’s important to have that, and the confidence in playing those guys, knowing you’ve got good players,” Reid said. “It’s a tribute to (general manager) John Dorsey and his staff.”
This week is also about muscle memory. On the cold afternoon of Dec. 22, the Chiefs fired the first shot with Jamaal Charles capping the team’s opening possession with a touchdown run to break ahead of the Colts.
But that was it for the scoring on the Chiefs’ most dismal offensive effort of the season.
Quarterback Alex Smith was sacked five times and the Chiefs committed three turnovers.
“The turnovers, that’s the primary thing you have to eliminate,” Reid said.
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