Former Helix quarterback Smith leads Chiefs into this weekend’s NFL playoffs

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The hottest team and quarterback in the NFL as the playoffs get ready to start this weekend? Look no farther than the Kansas City Chiefs and former Helix High School signal-caller Alex Smith after the Chiefs picked up their franchise-record 10th consecutive win by defeating the visiting Oakland Raiders, 23-17, on Sunday, Jan. 3.

The win raised the Chiefs' record to 11-5 and solidified a runner-up finish to the Denver Broncos in the AFC West Division standings.

The hottest team and quarterback in the NFL as the playoffs get ready to start this weekend? Look no farther than the Kansas City Chiefs and former Helix High School signal-caller Alex Smith after the Chiefs picked up their franchise-record 10th consecutive win by defeating the visiting Oakland Raiders, 23-17, on Sunday, Jan. 3.

The win raised the Chiefs' record to 11-5 and solidified a runner-up finish to the Denver Broncos in the AFC West Division standings.

Smith completed 14 of 24 passing attempts for 156 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. For the season, he has thrown for 3,486 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions to go with a 95.4 quarterback rating

With the victory, Kansas City sewed up the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs and will play at the fourth-seeded Houston Texans (9-7) in this Saturday’s wildcard playoff game. The Chiefs defeated the Texans, 27-20, in the opening game of the season.

Kick-off is slated for 1:35 p.m. PST on ABC-TV/ESPN.

Smith completed touchdown passes to Jeremy Maclin and Demetrius Harris to lead his team to victory.

Kansas City stormed out to an early 14-0 lead before the Raiders (7-9) gave the Chiefs cause for concern by rallying for 10 unanswered points, including an interception return by Oakland’s David Amerson off a Smith sideline pass, to close to within 14-10 on the scoreboard at halftime.  

But Kansas City responded to take a 23-10 lead. The Chiefs' defense took care of the rest with six sacks, one interception and a safety.

“This week it would have been easy, clinching (a playoff berth) last week on that emotional high, to have a lull to end the season here,” Smith told the media after the game. “We still came out and played good football. I appreciate the kind of guys we have in the locker room, the character we have … finding ways to win.

“We started off great. We were rolling. We got out hot, got a couple touchdowns and ate up the clock in the fourth quarter.”

Smith also helped himself out with his feet by rushing nine times for 59 rushing yards to put him over the 500-yard mark for the season– his best in that department.

Kansas City out-rushed Oakland 189 yards to 48 yards.

Derek Carr (194 passing yards) threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree with 2:01 left to make the score 23-17. The Chiefs recovered the ensuing onside kick but were unable to run out the clock. The Raiders got the ball back with 1:40 to play but the clock ran out on a fourth-down play.

“It was good team win, we played great defense all day,” Smith said.

“We took care of business today,” Chiefs head coach Any Reid said upon entering the locker room after the win. “I love every one of these (10 wins). The team loves every one of these. I like this football team. They're a pretty humble crew. They don't get caught up in a lot of things; they just go out and play. They work hard, they don't think anything is impossible.”

Kansas finished second in the division standings after the Denver Broncos, primed to secure the No. 1 AFC playoff seed with a win over the visiting San Diego Chargers, brought five-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning off the bench in relief of starter Brock Osweiler as they rallied to post a 27-20 win.

Manning came into the game in relief of Osweiler after the Broncos fell behind 13-7 and began to sputter with five turnovers (three fumbles, two interceptions).

Manning led the Broncos to four scoring drives in five possessions after entering the game to a standing ovation from fans.

Manning led Denver on an 80-yard drive to enable the Broncos to take a 14-13 lead on a one-yard run by C.J. Anderson.

Brandon McManus kicked a 48-yard field goal to push Denver ahead 17-13. But the Chargers took a 20-17 lead on an 80-yard pass play from quarterback Phillip Rivers to undrafted rookie Tyrell Williams.

McManus kicked a 35-yard field goal to tie the game 20-20. Denver scored the game-winning touchdown on a 23-yard run by SDSU alumnus Ronnie Hillman after the Broncos had taken the ball away on an interception.

Rivers completed 21 of 35 passing attempts for 207 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown.

Osweiler threw for 232 yards and one touchdown but threw two interceptions amid a disastrous run of five turnovers to warrant his removal from the game. The Broncos scored on their second play of the game as Osweiler hooked up with receiver Demaryius Thomas on a 72-yard catch and carry.

Manning completed five of nine passing attempts for 69 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Chargers ran off 13 unanswered points to go up by six points during the rush of Denver turnovers. Josh Lambo kicked field goals of 50 and 42 yards before Rivers passed 13 yards to Antonio Gates in the end zone.

Rivers ended the season with 4,792 passing yards, 29 touchdowns,13 interceptions and a 93.8 quarterback rating. The 4-12 season is the worst in Rivers' career with the Bolts.

“We all have a part in this, myself included,” Rivers told the media after the game.

Playoff picture in focus

There were some upsets on the final day of regular season play that helped rearrange the playoff seeding.

All the New York Jets had to do to wrap up an AFC playoff berth was to win in Buffalo but the Bills (8-8) surprised the visitors with a 22-17 victory to knock the Jets (10-6) out of post-season play. Instead, the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) took the Jets' place in the playoffs by defeating the host Cleveland Browns (3-13) by a score of 28-12.

New York quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions as the Jets missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

The Miami Dolphins added some drama to the later afternoon games after defeating the AFC East champion New England Patriots 20-10. The Patriots (12-4) entered the game as the No. 1 AFC seed but will enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed after Denver's win over the Chargers.

The Cincinnati Bengals wrapped up the No. 3 AFC playoff seed by defeating the visiting Baltimore Ravens, 24-16, while the Houston Texans (9-7) wrapped up the AFC South title – and the No. 4 playoff seed – by defeating the Jacksonville 30-6.

The Bengals (12-4) are making their fifth straight playoff appearance but are looking for their first playoff win since 1990. They will host sixth-seeded Pittsburgh (10-6) in Saturday’s wildcard match-up in an attempt to break that streak of futility.

Denver and New England both have first-round byes.

The Carolina Panthers (15-1) secured the No. 1 NFC playoff seed by blasting the visiting Tampa Bay Bucs, 38-10, while the Arizona Cardinals (13-3) dropped a 36-6 NFC West contest to the visiting Seattle Seahawks (10-6).

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, a top candidate for this season's NFL MVP award, ran for two touchdowns and passed for two touchdowns. He hit eight receivers for 293 passing yards in the win.

Seattle signal-caller Russell Wilson finished regular season play with 34 touchdowns after bombing the Cardinals with three touchdowns. The Seahawks out-rushed Arizona 145-27 in a game that proved meaningless for the Cardinals, who wrapped up the NFC’s No. 2 playoff seed and a first-round bye.

Carolina also will have a first-round playoff bye.

In the Sunday night regular season finale, visiting Minnesota shaded Green Bay, 20-13, to win the NFC North title. It was the Vikings' first division title since 2009 and ended the Packers' four-year hold on the division championship. By winning the division title, third-seeded Minnesota (11-5) will host sixth-seeded Seattle in Sunday’s wildcard playoffs while fifth-seeded Green Bay (10-6) will travel to fourth-seeded Washington (9-7), also on Sunday.

Both New England and Green Bay enter postseason play on downturns. After starting the season 10-0, the Patriots have dropped four of their last six games. The Packers started the season 6-0 but have lost six of their last 10 games.

Three teams in the AFC with .500 or better records failed to qualify for post-season play: the Jets (10-6), Bills (8-8) and Indianapolis Colts (8-8).

Two teams in the NFC with .500 or better records also failed to qualify for the upcoming playoffs: the Atlanta Falcons (8-8) and St. Louis Rams (8-8).

The Tennessee Titans (3-13) earned the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Former El Capitan and SDSU quarterback Ryan Lindley made an appearance in the Colts' 30-24 win over Tennessee. Lindley completed six of 10 passing attempts for 58 yards and one touchdown for Indianapolis. It was his third career NFL touchdown. He finished the game with a 109.6 QB rating.

NFL Playoffs

Wildcard Round
Saturday, Jan. 9

AFC: (5) Kansas City (11-5) at (4) Houston (9-7), 1:35 p.m. PST (ABC-TV/ESPN)

AFC: (6) Pittsburgh (10-6) at (3) Cincinnati (12-4), 4:40 p.m. PST (CBS-TV)

Sunday, Jan. 10

NFC: (6) Seattle (10-6) at (3) Minnesota (11-5), 10:05 a.m. (NBC-TV)

NFC: (5) Green Bay (10-6) at (4) Washington (9-7), 1:40 p.m. PST (FOX-TV)

NFL Standings

Final Regular Season

American Football Conference

AFC East

z-New England Patriots 12-4

New York Jets 10-6

Buffalo Bills 8-8

Miami Dolphins 6-10

AFC North

z-Cincinnati Bengals 12-4

x-Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6

Baltimore Ravens 5-11

Cleveland Browns 3-13

AFC South

z-Houston Texans 9-7

Indianapolis Colts 8-8

Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11

Tennessee Titans 3-13

AFC West

z-Denver Broncos 12-4

x-Kansas City Chiefs 11-5

Oakland Raiders 7-9

San Diego Chargers 4-12

z-division champion

x-wild card qualifier

National Football Conference

NFC East

z-Washington Redskins 9-7

Philadelphia Eagles 7-9

New York Giants 6-10

Dallas Cowboys 4-12

NFC North

z-Minnesota Vikings 11-5

x-Green Bay Packers 10-6

Detroit Lions 7-9

Chicago Bears 6-10

NFC South

z-Carolina Panthers 15-1

Atlanta Falcons 8-8

New Orleans Saints 7-9

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-10

NFC West

z-Arizona Cardinals 13-3

x-Seattle Seahawks 10-6

St. Louis Rams 7-9

San Francisco 49ers 5-11

z-division champion

x-wild card qualifier

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