Red Zone

Chiefs Blitz: A look at the good, the bad and the ugly from Sunday’s win over the Rams

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) gained yardage against St. Louis Rams strong safety T.J. McDonald (25) and free safety Rodney McLeod (23) in the first half Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs beat the Rams 34-7.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) gained yardage against St. Louis Rams strong safety T.J. McDonald (25) and free safety Rodney McLeod (23) in the first half Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs beat the Rams 34-7. The Kansas City Star

Do tell the truth

How big is this win?

It’s a big one, and it’s not because of the Governor’s Cup, though that’s certainly a nice bonus. The Chiefs, 4-3, are in the middle of a winnable stretch of games, and with the Jets and Bills coming up, they could make some major strides toward earning a playoff berth in the next couple of weeks. The Chiefs are on a bit of a roll — they’re 3-1 in their last four games — and a home loss to the Rams, who entered with a 2-4 record, would have derailed the good vibes, especially with the Royals in the World Series.

Do the Chiefs miss Eric Berry?

Berry, a three-time Pro Bowl safety, is a good player who is tough and aggressive against the run. He could help this secondary. But the secondary has fared very well since he got hurt. They’ve eliminated the big plays they allowed in bunches last year and in the first two games this year, in which he played. The unit will be even better if they can find a way to integrate Berry into what they’re currently doing. Chiefs coach Andy Reid has already said Berry will return to the starting lineup when he comes back, by the way.

How did Eric Fisher fare against Robert Quinn?

First off, Quinn, who had 19 sacks last season, is a stud. He’s made many tackles look bad in pass pro. On Sunday, he finished the game with two sacks against the Chiefs’ second-year left tackle, including a nasty one at the end of the second quarter in which he beat Fisher outside and engulfed quarterback Alex Smith. On the next play, right tackle Ryan Harris got beat by defensive end William Hayes, only to have Smith escape him and run right into Quinn’s arms. After watching him play Sunday, it’s incredible he went the first five games of the season without a sack.

When will Donald Stephenson work his way back into the mix?

As long as the Chiefs keep winning, it will be difficult. Reid has said he will stick with the group that has brought him here, even though Stephenson was arguably the Chiefs’ second-best tackle last season behind the now-departed Branden Albert. The team could not have been happy with the timing and nature of Stephenson’s PED suspension, which kept him out for the first month of the season, but Reid and coach Andy Heck maintain Stephenson will be needed at some point. The smart money is on that coming to fruition, eventually, though there’s no telling when it happens.

How does this offense keep producing without significant contributions from the receivers?

Play-calling. Reid has consistently found a way to scheme around a position that simply hasn’t given the team very much this year — for instance, only seven of Smith’s 24 completions Sunday went to wide receivers. The running game has been strong, and the tight ends, led by Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano, have been effective. The emergence of Kelce as a legitimate receiving threat has also helped open things up all over the field. Just imagine what this offense could do with a legitimate deep threat like, say, Emmanuel Sanders. That whole situation is water under the bridge, but Sanders’ three-touchdown performance Thursday is was a subtle reminder of what the Chiefs missed out on. Look for the Chiefs to add some juice to the position this offseason.

The number

1: The number of times Reid has beaten Rams coach Jeff Fisher in their head-to-head matchups over the years. Reid is now 1-4 against Fisher.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TerezPaylor.

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