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National NFL pundits on Chiefs’ playoff chances: ‘They’re gonna have to win shootouts’

The Chiefs’ playoff opponent is still to be determined, of course, but that hasn’t stopped people who cover the NFL from weighing in on Kansas City’s outlook for the postseason.

In 10 days, the Chiefs will take the field at Arrowhead Stadium hoping star quarterback Patrick Mahomes can help the franchise win its first home playoff game in more than 25 years.

The Chiefs, 12-4, have the top seed in the AFC and the NFL’s most-potent offense. But they also have a much-maligned defense.

Here is a sample of what NFL pundits are saying about the Chiefs:

Bill Pennington of the New York Times took an early look at the NFL playoff teams. He wrote this about the Chiefs and their ability to end New England’s reign: “The Patriots can never be discounted, even if they might have to travel to reach the top postseason prize. Because no one franchise has cast its persistent shadow over the Super Bowl this century like the Patriots, who have played in the game eight times since 2002.

“The team most likely in the Patriots’ cross hairs is, of course, the Chiefs (12-4), who throttled the ever hapless Oakland Raiders, 35-3, on Sunday. The magical quarterback Patrick Mahomes started slowly but eventually ran around and flung astounding passes to seven receivers.

“The young, dynamic Chiefs will be an intimidating presence for any team visiting Arrowhead Stadium, but they will also spend most of the next two weeks answering questions about their two defeats in the last three weeks. And the Chiefs nearly lost at home to the Ravens four games ago.”

In his weekly power rankings, Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports said the Chiefs are similar to the Colts when Peyton Manning was the quarterback and Dwight Freeney was on defense.

“They need to play with a lead because if they lead, they will get after your quarterback,” Cowherd said of the Chiefs. “I don’t know if I trust a playoff Patrick Mahomes to come from behind. Their defense is totally flawed. We know their offense is good, but their defense is tied for the NFL lead in sacks. That is a very important thing to note ...

“If they lead late in games and their defensive front knows the opponent is passing, they will get after you.”

Here is the clip, starting with Cowherd talking about the Chiefs (if it doesn’t play, click or tap here):

Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier believes Mahomes is “locked and loaded for the postseason.” Here is a sample of what he wrote: “Mahomes is unlike any quarterback we have ever seen, past or present. His accomplishments are going to change the NFL in ways we cannot yet anticipate. But you didn’t need statistics to illustrate that if you have been paying attention all season.

“Mahomes is not just the the clear-cut choice for MVP but also (Monday Morning) Digest’s official Player No One Wants to Face in the Playoffs. He has the potential to turn any defensive game plan into the scribbles of an overstimulated toddler.”

Former Buccanners quarterback Chris Simms said on “Football Night In America” on NBC that the AFC field doesn’t have a dominant team, but Mahomes is the most dangerous player in the NFL. “They’re gonna have to win shootouts,” Simms said.

Here is the segment:

USA Today’s Steven Ruiz ranked the 12 playoff teams and put the Chiefs at No. 2. Here is part of what he wrote: “The Chiefs can’t play defense. They can’t stop the run, the secondary lacks talent, and the linebacking corps is slow. None of that may end up mattering because this offense is that good. ... Kansas City’s offense hasn’t been held under 26 points all season. This unit is incapable of laying an egg. If a team is going to beat Kansas City, it may have to put up 40, which will be difficult to do in Kansas City, where the Chiefs defense has played somewhat competently.”

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert noted the Chiefs offense remained potent late in the season when other teams slowed down. He wrote that running back Damien Williams is the team’s X-factor.

“Running back Damien Williams emerged as a viable emergency option for a team that needs versatility and explosiveness in the backfield to make its offense go. Williams seems an especially important option in anticipating January weather at Arrowhead Stadium.”

Michael Robinson said on “Good Morning Football” that the Chiefs need to run the ball in the postseason:

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From covering the World Series to the World Cup, Pete has done a little bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997. He writes about baseball and has a quirky blog that augments The Star’s coverage of area teams.