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Alex Smith has been a better passer on road than at home

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is statistically a top-10 quarterback on the road this year AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Something to ponder as you decide whether you’d prefer the Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC West and draw a home game against a more difficult first-round playoff opponent (Denver or Pittsburgh, probably) than finish as the top wild-card entrant and play their first postseason game on the road against the quarterback-challenged winner of the AFC South (Houston, probably).

Alex Smith has been a statistically better player this season on the road than at Arrowhead Stadium. Not counting the Nov. 1 match against the Detroit Lions in London as a home or road game because it was played at a neutral site, Smith has played five games at Arrowhead Stadium and eight on the fields of opposing teams.

The sample size isn’t huge, but as you can see by the accompanying chart Smith is significantly better in passer rating, touchdown-to-interception ratio and completion percentage on the road than at Arrowhead.

The reasons for his better play on the road could range from the small sample size to the fact that the last two home games were played in a steady rain. Still, Smith is statistically a top-10 quarterback on the road this year and he’s been in the middle of the pack at home.

The Chiefs, conveniently, have played the Texans on the road and the Broncos and Steelers at home this year. Smith had the best passer rating of the three (118.6) on Sept. 13 in Houston followed by 99.9 against the Steelers at home on Oct. 25 and 53.9 against the Broncos on Sept. 17 at Arrowhead. That Denver game was by far his worst passer rating of the season.

The Chiefs as a whole are better in some areas at home and others on the road. They run the ball much better at home (5.52 yards per carry, second in the NFL) than on the road (3.94 yards, 17th). They’re better at converting on third downs at Arrowhead (45.9 percent, tied for 3rd) than away from home (32 percent, 27th). On defense, their percentage at allowing touchdowns from within the red zone is far better at home (32.9 percent, 7th) than on the road (69.6 percent, 29th).

But on the road, the Chiefs have played better run defense (3.73 yards per carry, 6th) than at home (4.16, 20th). They’re also better away from town in scoring points (27.0 per game and fifth on the road, 24.8 and 13th at home), at scoring touchdowns in the red zone (57.7 percent and 15th on the road, 52.2 percent and 24th at home) and kicking field goals (90.5 percent and 13th on the road, 66.7 percent and tied for 30th on the road).

There’s also this: The Chiefs have won five of eight on the road (62.5 percent) and three of five at Arrowhead (60 percent).