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Chiefs’ slide in numbers: Can’t win if you can’t score</

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is no time right now for Andy Reid and his coaching staff to analyze big-picture items on the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2014 agenda. They have one more opponent to prepare for and forgetting their miniscule chances to make the AFC playoffs, what really matters for Reid and his team is to finish with a victory over the San Diego Chargers this Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Then, they can dive head-first into the pressing question: Why are the Chiefs less successful in the second half of the season compared to the first half?

In the last two seasons with Reid and his staff in charge, the Chiefs are 13-3 in the first eight games on the schedule. But in the second half, they are now 6-9 with a final game ahead against the Chargers.

They win 81 percent of games one through eight. They win 40 percent of their games in games nine through 16.

Reid’s teams start fast and finish slow. It happened last year when they went 3-5 in the second half and they are 3-4 this season. Does the man in charge see any similarities between last year’s late-season swoon and this year’s dive?

“By the number of wins, there’s probably something there,” Reid said. “Other than that I don’t think there (are common factors.”)

Last season the Chiefs started 9-0 against a schedule that featured losing teams and bad quarterbacks. When they faced Peyton Manning (Denver), Philip Rivers (San Diego) and Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) six times late in 2013 they went 0-6, including a loss in the playoffs to the Colts.

This year, they have lost four of the past five games. Three of those four defeats came against teams with double-digit victory totals: Denver, Arizona and Pittsburgh. The other loss was to a bad Oakland team.

“It’s tough to compare the two (seasons) at this point,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “Week-to-week all of the challenges are different.”

The most important statistic for any football team is points scored, followed by points allowed. When it comes to the Chiefs moving the scoreboard, there is very little difference between the first half of the season (392 points, an average of 24.5 points per game) and games in the second half (372 points, an average of 24.8 points per game.)

It’s a different matter on defense, where in the first half they allowed 236 points (14.8 per game). In the second half, they have allowed 343 points, or an average of 22.9 points per game.

That eight-point difference has been big. In those nine second-half defeats, if the opponent had scored eight points less, the Chiefs instead of being 0-9 in those games would have been 5-3-1.

Last season the most points scored by an opponent in the first half of the season was 17 points. In the second half, the Chiefs gave up 27, 41, 35, 31 and 27 points again.

This season the focus goes away from the defense. No opponent has scored more than 29 points and only five of 15 games have seen the other team score more than 21 points.

The problem in this 2014 season has been the Chiefs’ failure to score enough points. They are averaging 22.3 points per game. In losing four of the past five games, they scored 20, 16, 14 and 12 points, or an average of 15.5 points per loss.

So, last year was a defensive breakdown in the second half, and this season it’s the lack of point production by the offense. One thing that Reid says is not a problem is diminishing effort or attention to detail from the first half to the second half of the season.

“I haven’t felt the effort of these guys slip,” Reid said. “These guys come to work, that’s one thing that they have always done; they come to work. You don’t have to continuously tell them ‘let’s go, let’s go.’ That’s not where you are at with this team.”

Maybe Reid is right – the only common element is the lack of victories, and this year unless they win and get a lot of help on Sunday, the late-season collapse will mean no trip to the playoffs.

Common elements or not, it’s a problem the Chiefs need to solve.

SERIES HISTORY: This will be the 109th game between these charter members of the American Football League. The Chiefs trail in the series 53-54-1, as well as losing the only postseason game between the teams; that was in 1992 with San Diego grabbing a 17-0 victory. In this season’s first game between the AFC West neighbors, the Chiefs earned a 23-20 victory in San Diego. That outcome ended a four-game losing streak to the Chargers.

NOTES: Outside linebacker Justin Houston goes into Sunday’s game against San Diego leading the NFL in sacks with 18, a half-sack ahead of the Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. He’s two sacks away from tying the Chiefs’ single-season record for sacks with 20, held by Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas. … Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is expected to play on Sunday against San Diego despite a sprained shoulder that he suffered in last Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh. Bowe did not practice on Tuesday and was expected to be limited in his participation on Wednesday. But Reid was confident he would be ready to play against the Chargers. “I just know his makeup,” said Reid. “He’s in that frame of mind where he wants to make sure he’s out there.” … Right guard Zach Fulton suffered a sprained foot in last Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh and has missed practice time this week. But Reid says he’s confident his rookie guard will be able to play against San Diego. “I think he is going to be able to go when it is all said and done,” Reid said.


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