<
>

Andy Reid says Chiefs will play to win against Raiders

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Andy Reid said the Kansas City Chiefs will play their starters and try to win Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium even though they’ve clinched a playoff spot.

“Guys are going to play,’’ Reid said. “They’re all playing. Everybody is playing. We’re planning on winning the game.’’

For how long is another matter. The situation is complicated because the Chiefs can still win the AFC West championship. Failing that, the Chiefs could finish as the AFC’s first or second wild-card playoff entrant, the difference being a first-round game at Houston or at either Denver or Cincinnati.

The Chiefs-Raiders game begins at 3:25 p.m. CT in Kansas City. By kickoff, the Chiefs may have already clinched at least the first wild-card spot depending on results from an earlier game between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. If the Jets lose, the Chiefs would be the first wild card if they don’t win the division.

But if the Jets win, the Chiefs would need to win their game in order to be the first of two wild cards, if they don’t win the division.

The Chiefs can win the AFC West if they beat the Raiders while the Broncos lose to the Chargers in a game that also begins at 3:25 CT.

So Reid has some things to consider. If the Jets lose and the Broncos are blowing out the Chargers, Reid may want to take quarterback Alex Smith and some other starters out of the game.

“I’m not even sure of all the scenarios,’’ Reid said. “I just know we’ve got to play this one and everybody’s getting ready to do that. That’s how we’re focused and I haven’t really gone beyond that.’’

The Chiefs could probably benefit from giving a break to as many players as possible, if that’s possible, on Sunday. They’ve had to expend a lot of energy to win nine straight games after beginning the season 1-5 to clinch a playoff spot with one game remaining.

But Reid said he doesn’t believe that’s taken a toll on the Chiefs.

“They’re as lively as ever,’’ he said. “I really haven’t seen that. We alter the practice numbers as we go throughout the season and that helps them.

“I think they’re staying fresh mentally. I think that’s all positive. We’re able to play a lot of guys, so that helps.”