KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs are basically in playoff mode with two games left in the regular season. The most realistic of scenarios for the Chiefs to make the postseason is to win both of their remaining games, beginning with Sunday's contest against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
The Chiefs certainly need to play with a sense of urgency against the Steelers. At 8-6, their room for error is gone. That's what losses to two of the worst teams in the NFL, the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders, do to a team.
The Chiefs at this time last year were 11-3 and had clinched a playoff spot. They were playing for playoff seeding and, after losing in Week 16 to the Indianapolis Colts, they had a meaningless final game against the San Diego Chargers.
So this role is new to the Chiefs since last year's arrival of coach Andy Reid.
"You embrace it," quarterback Alex Smith said of the situation the Chiefs find themselves in. "You've been working hard to put yourself in this position. You wanted the stages to get bigger and bigger and be more meaningful and here we are. I think you embrace that and embrace the entire week of preparation and then go out there on Sunday and have fun and enjoy it."
Every Chiefs player is aware of the consequences of Sunday's game. But, as Reid points out, they have to be careful it doesn't rule the way they prepare this week.
"I don't think you focus on that," Reid said. "I think you focus on the thing we've talked about each week and that's studying the opponent. That part doesn't change. You're always going to bring intensity to every game. That's what you strive to do. You strive to do that consistently. That won't be any different this week in how we approach things.
"You're at that time of the year where if you're still in the hunt then every game is magnified. Both teams are in that frame of mind. Both teams know that you're down towards the end of the season so it should be a heck of an environment for a football game and a great atmosphere and the players, there's a little extra juice involved in these things.
"At the same time, you better go through the process. If you eliminate the process, then you've got problems."