KANSAS CITY, Mo. — History sometimes has a way of repeating itself. But that hasn’t really been the case for the Kansas City Chiefs, at least in one area.
Never before in team history have the Chiefs won back-to-back division titles. That could change Sunday when the Chiefs play the Miami Dolphins at noon at Arrowhead Stadium. If the Chiefs beat the Dolphins or the Chargers lose to the Jets, the Chiefs would clinch their second straight AFC West title and secure a home playoff game for the second straight year.
“We have put ourselves in a good position and a good situation right now,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “And we have to go take care of business. (It’s) a big opportunity in front of us this week. From day one, all the goals you set out, the first one is make the playoffs and win the division. That is what it starts with. We are in a situation to do that and we need to go take care of business.”
The Chiefs (8-6) have won two in a row, having beaten the Raiders and Chargers both at home. The Dolphins (6-8) are a longshot for a wild card.
Last week against the Chargers, Smith threw two touchdown passes. He now has a career-high 25 TDs to go with only five interceptions this season. He also has thrown for 3,738 yards this year, also a career high.
Smith, however, was not voted in to the Pro Bowl despite leading the NFL in passer rating at 105.4. But he was selected as an alternate. Tight end Travis Kelce, rookie running back Kareem Hunt and returner/wide receiver Tyreek Hill were the Chiefs named to the Pro Bowl.
“There are a lot of good players,” Smith said. “I am pumped for the guys on this team that did make it and I am humbled to be a first alternate. There are some good QBs there. To be honest, hopefully we’re not even playing in it. It is kind of a funny thing, but I am focused on my end.”
The team’s recent surge has coincided with the return of the running game. Hunt rushed for 116 yards against the Raiders and followed that up with 155-yard performance against the Chargers. The offensive line also has played much better recently, and those players received Yeti coolers and Gucci backpacks as Christmas gifts from Smith.
Hunt, who has rushed for 242 times for 1,201 yards (4.96 yards per carry), also will be giving his offensive line gifts. However, he hadn’t decided exactly what those will be yet. But will he be as generous as Smith?
“No,” Hunt said. “I’m still a rookie, in my rookie contract.”
Though the Chiefs are on the verge of a spot in the playoffs, coach Andy Reid said there is a sense of urgency about this week. While it’s not technically a must-win, it might as well be.
“That’s what I felt coming in, when the players came in here,” Reid said. “There has to be an urgency all the way around. You aren’t guaranteed anything. So every game becomes the most important game. If it wasn’t before, it surely is now.”
DOLPHINS AT CHIEFS
When/Where: Noon Sunday, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
Records: Dolphins 6-8, Kansas City 8-6
TV/Radio: WIBW (13.1), KDVV-FM (100.3)
Line: Kansas City by 10½