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NFL Kansas City Chiefs

5 Reasons Why the Kansas City Chiefs Will Lose in the First Round of NFL Playoffs

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Kansas City Chiefs Will Lose in First Round of NFL Playoffs: 5 Reasons Why

Kansas City
Isaiah Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Aside from the Kansas City Chiefs' faithful, only a handful of NFL fans could've envisioned a scenario where the Chiefs would have a playoff spot clinched by Week 15.

But, alas, here we are in Week 17 with Kansas City heading into a meaningless match-up against the San Diego Chargers in which Andy Reid will likely rest most key players before their wild card match-up next week.

Depending on how the scenarios play themselves out this Sunday, the Chiefs will face one of three teams in the opening round: the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals or Indianapolis Colts. But regardless of which of these three end up pitted against KC, it will more than likely be the Chiefs' last game of the season.

Since starting the season 9-0, Kansas City has dropped four of its last six, and its once ironclad defense has begun to falter. This isn't how you want to head into a crucial playoff game.

The Chiefs have looked impressive on both sides of the ball at points this season but haven't seemed capable of turning in stellar performances on both sides, concurrently, against quality competition. A team that once looked like one of the top two or three teams in the league has been relegated to nothing more than mediocrity during the most important stretch of the regular season.

Heading into the playoffs on a cold streak is never a good thing, and with Reid planning on benching starters this week one can only assume Kansas City will head into their wild card match-up fresh off their second loss to the Chargers this season. With Scott Pioli out of the front office and Tony Moeaki no longer on the field, Chiefs fans will likely need a scapegoat for their playoff collapse this offseason. Here are the five most likely candidates.

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5. Too Much Reliance on Jamaal Charles

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Kriby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jamaal Charles is the Kansas City offense. You know that, Andy Reid knows that, and you can bet that the Patriots, Bengals and Colts know that. Whoever the Chiefs end up playing will focus on taking Charles out of the game at all costs as no other player on the Kansas City offense has shown that they can elevate their game if Charles is neutralized.

Charles leads the team in rushing yards (1,287), receptions (70) and receiving yards (693). Playmakers such as Dexter McCluster and Donnie Avery will need to assume bigger roles in the offense to take some of the burden off Charles, but that just won't happen.

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4. Dwayne Bowe's Refusal to Step Up

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dwayne Bowe hasn't been what the Chiefs expected after drafting him 23rd overall in the 2007 NFL draft. Some claim that this is the result of an unfortunate string of subpar quarterbacks, and others say that the offensive play-calling isn't conducive to Bowe's skill set. In reality, it's simply the fact that Bowe lacks the drive to be a successful NFL receiver. Bowe completely disappears in critical situations whether it's an untimely drop or basically looking like he'd rather be anywhere else than on the field.

The Chiefs need Bowe to step up and be the receiver they drafted him to be if they want a chance to advance in the playoffs, but the sad truth is that he probably never will.

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3. Lackluster Rush Defense

Kansas City
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs' overall success on defense this year has overshadowed the fact that they've been unable to effectively stop the run. Ranking 25th in the league against the run (4.4 YPC), the Chiefs have allowed over 100 yards rushing to opponents in five of their last six contests. This includes games against the less-than-impressive rushing attacks of teams like the Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs are very vulnerable against the run which will be exploited come playoff time.

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2. Marcus Cooper

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs' nation was ecstatic when news broke that Kansas City had signed Marcus Cooper off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers at the start of the season. That excitement quickly turned to disappointment as Cooper was routinely dominated by opposing wideouts, allowing big play after big play. Andy Reid and the Kansas City coaching staff have finally come to their senses in recent weeks by replacing Cooper with Dunta Robinson.

But even with Robinson ahead of him, Cooper will still see the field for some snaps next week. When he does, expect offensive coordinators to target Cooper for the home run. Cooper could possibly be this year's Rahim Moore for Chiefs' fans.

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1. Alex Smith's Arm

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

He's had a great record as a starter, he's consistent, yada, yada, yada. We've heard it all. No argument can make up for the fact that Alex Smith simply doesn't pass the eye test.

If it weren't for check-downs and screen passes to Charles this season, Smith's numbers and the Chiefs' record would look starkly different. Smith has virtually no capability to throw the ball downfield, as evidenced by Dwayne Bowe eclipsing the 70-yard receiving mark exactly zero times this year.

He won't lose games, but he certainly won't win them either. That's definitely not the guy you want running the two-minute drill, down by a touchdown, on your own 20.