The Kansas City Chiefs players and coaches have earned some much needed time off as they prepare to host one of three teams in two weeks in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.
The Chiefs will face the highest seed remaining of the games this weekend between the Houston Texans (No. 4) and Oakland Raiders (No. 5) on Saturday, or the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 3) and Miami Dolphins (No. 6) on Sunday.
With the Miami Dolphins (No. 6) automatically heading to the New England Patriots (No. 1) if they win because they're the lowest seed, the Chiefs will host the Steelers, Texans or Raiders on Sunday, January 15. That game is scheduled to kick off at Arrowhead Stadium at 12:05 p.m. CT (Get tickets here).
With the first-round bye coming with the AFC's No. 2 seed, Chiefs coach Andy Reid told the media on Monday what the plan was for his team for the rest of this week.
"So, the players were in [Monday]," Reid explained. "I'm going to get them out of here just like we did during the bye week. They'll be back for practice (next) Monday. It will be a short 10-10-10 practice, and they're off Tuesday, and we'll be back in our normal week.
"Then, the coaches are working a few days, and I'm going to give them a couple days off. Then, they'll be back later in the week before we get cranking, so they can see these (playoff) games as they're going on."
Reid, who had explained prior to last Sunday's game against the Chargers that he wouldn't have minded playing this coming weekend because it keeps all the guys' focus on football and the weekly process they've established, said he understands that time this time off will be helpful to a handful of the players working their way back from injuries—particularly guys like running back Spencer Ware and linebacker Justin Houston, who were both inactive against the Chargers.
Reid said on Tuesday that all 53 players on the roster, which include Houston and Ware, should be available for the playoff game in two weeks.
That's a much different scenario than the Chiefs faced last year heading into the divisional round against the Patriots, when the Chiefs had injury questions surrounding Houston, Ware, Maclin and were missing two starters along the offensive line in Mitch Morse and Larry Duvernay-Tardif.
Reid said he learned that it's important to give players time off in these situations from his mentor, former Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren. Reid added it's obviously important that the guys use this time wisely.
"I know the bye doesn't normally hurt you," Reid explained. "It's a good thing to have it if you handle it the right way. I have enough trust in the players that they're going to handle it the right way. The coaches are going to handle it the right way.
"There's a certain trust that goes into this thing with how we roll from this point on."
Reid has earned plenty of trust throughout his career when it comes to how his teams perform with some extra prep time. He has a 19-2 record (including playoffs) when given an extra week to prepare with a bye week.
"He's one of the best coaches in the history of this game coming off a bye week, whether it be in the regular season or postseason," veteran receiver Jeremy Maclin explained. "I think, with that extra time to prepare on their end, they do an excellent job. It's also about guys being able to get their legs back underneath them, letting guys get healthy and letting guys just step away from the facility for a second to clear their minds and be with their families.
"I think guys really appreciate that, then they come back energized and ready to go. I think [Reid] does a wonderful job of doing that."
When it comes to preparing for any of three opponents in that divisional game in two weeks, Reid said that's up to Tommy Brasher, the longtime defensive line coach whose title is now, "Special Projects."
"He's already got all of the teams done," Reid explained of Brasher's advanced scouting reports. "We have an idea of what's going on there with the exception of the outcomes (of the games). He does these reports for us every week and he got a jump on things and he estimated who would be the remaining teams that we've had chances to play and all of the different scenarios, that way the coaches didn't have to worry about it.
"[Brasher] started these breakdowns a week ago and he's been kind of grinding stuff out there and it just happens that the teams we've had a chance to play—he's already gotten that done. That's a good foundation to start on and go. I think most teams probably do something like that. That's where we're at."
Reid said the coaches would convene back at the office later in the week as they get ready to face any of three teams playing this weekend.