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 Chiefs still in playoff race

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PostSubject: Chiefs still in playoff race   Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:20 pm

Todd Haley: "We are in this race, even though it may not appear so."
The Chiefs are one of the final teams to get mention, if they’re getting any mention at all, when the AFC playoff picture is discussed. At 4-7, Kansas City is technically still “in the hunt” but on the extreme outside looking in.

To extend that status another week, Sunday’s game in Chicago is one the Chiefs must have.

Losers of four straight games, the Chiefs have burnt their margin for error to its absolute end. Kansas City must win its remaining five contests to secure a winning record and, in all likelihood, salvage any postseason hope.

“We’ve got to get ready for another really good opponent in the Chicago Bears on the road but we are in this race, even though it may not appear so,” head coach Todd Haley said.

In addition to playing the Bears (7-4), the remaining schedule includes unbeaten Green Bay and three teams with winning records. But division games against Oakland and Denver still loom, technically keeping Kansas City in the AFC West hunt.

The Chiefs have been a team of extreme streaks throughout the season both high and low. But even if they’re able run off five consecutive victories, they’ll still need some help.

Regardless, it isn’t over until it’s over and that’s the way Kansas City is approaching its stretch of December games.

“If we play better football and are able to find a way to string a couple of wins together starting this week against a real good team, we are in it,” Haley said. “There are some teams that can’t say that and that’s not a fun place to be. I’ve been there before and it’s not a fun place to be.”

If it weren’t so already, the season is effectively on the line each of the next five weeks. It’s a scenario that begs the question whether or not Tyler Palko will remain the Chiefs starting quarterback down the stretch?

For now, the answer is yes.

Though Kyle Orton will see practice reps with the first-team offense this week, Palko will remain the Chiefs starting quarterback when on-field preparations for Chicago begin on Wednesday afternoon.

“Tyler is the starter,” Haley said. “But as we do every week and at every position, if we feel Kyle or Ricky [Stanzi] gives us a better chance to win than we surely would make that change.”

At the moment, Stanzi clearly isn’t a player that the Chiefs feel comfortable thrusting into action outside of an injury to both Palko and Orton. Even with Palko struggling through much of the first half, there didn’t’ seem to be a scenario outside of injury where Stanzi would have seen the field Sunday night.

“There was a clear-cut reason for the acquisition of Kyle and I would say he’s getting the majority of any extra (first-team) snaps,” said Haley.

Family issues delayed Orton’s arrival in Kansas City and kept him inactive for Sunday’s game. Stanzi will move back into the third-string quarterback role against Chicago.

If Palko holds onto his starting position through this week’s practices, his margin for error has run just as dry as the Chiefs.

There’s no doubting the difficult circumstances Palko has had to operate under with back-to-back primetime games against two of the AFC’s elite, but he’s also thrown six interceptions and fumbled a snap during his first two NFL starts.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs offensive struggles pre-date Palko with the team recording only one touchdown throughout all of November.

“I was talking to Kurt Warner the other night and you can’t line up a tougher start for a young quarterback and his position to be in,” Haley said. “When you hear Kurt Warner saying it, a guy that’s obviously had to come in and shock some people that at least awakened me to not forget the situation that actually Tyler was in.”

“There isn’t time to feel sorry for yourself,” Palko added. “You don’t pick your schedule. This is the NFL and everybody is good. It is not an excuse or a way out. The two teams we played the last two weeks are two really good teams who have been in the playoffs the last couple years and ran deep in the playoffs. There is no loss of confidence here, I am ready to get back to work and get ready for Chicago.”

Whether it comes from Palko, Orton or even pass-catching offensive tackle Steve Maneri, the Chiefs offensive is in desperate need of a spark.

Time has just about run out.

http://www.kcchiefs.com/news/article...7-397e69ed5b89

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