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Five things to know about Kansas City Chiefs

1. They are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Chiefs were left for dead in the AFC playoff race after a 1-5 start, but since then have run off four straight wins to put themselves in the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC. Quarterback Alex Smith runs a deliberate offense that aims to chew up the clock. The Chiefs are seventh in the NFL in time of possession, holding the ball for 31:27 per game. Smith has done a good job of taking care of it, too, throwing only three interceptions on the year. During its four-game winning streak, the offense has averaged 32.5 points per game. It also has not turned the ball over – the first time in team history the Chiefs have done that for four straight games.

2. The defense has rebounded from a tough start. The Chiefs allowed more than 30 points in three straight games during a four-game losing streak earlier this season, but since that time the defense has rebounded nicely. Kansas City has allowed 73 points in its past six games, an average of just over 12 points per game. The pass-rush duo of Justin Houston and Tamba Hali is once again making life miserable for opposing offenses. Houston has 7.5 sacks, six passes defensed, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a touchdown, while Hali has 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble of his own.

3. The special teams are getting it done, too. Punter Dustin Colquitt was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against San Diego in Week 11. Colquitt punted five times for 203 yards, with four of those punts pinning the Chargers inside their 20-yard line. He has placed 25 of 48 punts this season inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, an impressive 52.1 percent that comfortably leads the NFL. For his career, Colquitt ranks fourth in NFL history in average yards, touchback percentage and return average. Kicker Cairo Santos, meanwhile, went 5 of 6 on field goals in Week 10 against Denver, including a 50-yarder. He’s got a success rate just shy of 83 percent in his two-year career.

4. Safety Eric Berry’s return to football is one of the best stories in the NFL this season. Berry was diagnosed and treated for lymphoma last season, but has been able to return to the field this year – and is starting to look like the Pro Bowl safety we all remember. Berry has 41 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes defensed in making nine starts this season. “I saw him back when he literally had the one hair coming out of his chin,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He refused to shave that one hair; it was the only one he had. He was telling me he was going to play. He was going to be back and better than ever. It was hard to believe at that time from what my eyes were telling me. But what your eyes tell you and what your heart tells you are two different things sometimes. In my heart, I was hoping that that would happen and he’s done that. He’s come back, and every week he’s gotten a little bit better and he’s playing really good football right now.”

5. They’ve hit the soft part of their schedule. The Bills come into Sunday’s game with a 5-5 record – making them the only team remaining on the Chiefs’ schedule with a record of at least .500. After Buffalo, Kansas City has games against Oakland (4-6), San Diego (2-8), Baltimore (3-7), Cleveland and the Raiders again. Four of those six games will be played at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs enjoy one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL.

email: jskurski@buffnews.com