1. Road warriors. The Chiefs certainly would prefer to be playing at home, but they actually have been a better team on the road this season. They finished 6-2, with one of the losses coming Sunday in San Diego with all but a handful of starters on the bench, and the Chiefs still took the Chargers to overtime. No NFL team finished with a better road record. For at least part of the season, the Chiefs fit the profile of a team that should play well on the road. They were playing great defense and creating a massive number of turnovers while not committing many turnovers themselves. Before Sunday’s loss, the Chiefs had won their two previous road games by a combined score of 101-41. The Chiefs were 5-3 at Arrowhead Stadium, with three consecutive losses, including a 23-7 defeat against the Colts on Dec. 22.
2. The all-important turnover battle. The Chiefs thrived during the first half of the season on forcing opponents into turnovers and limiting their own. They ran into problems about midway through the season when they stopped consistently winning the turnover battle. The issue was particularly obvious against the Colts in Week 16. The Chiefs were minus-4 in turnover ratio that day, eliminating any realistic chance they otherwise might have had to beat the Colts. Quarterback Alex Smith committed just 10 turnovers all season, but three of those came against Indianapolis. So ball security will be crucial in this one.
3. The well-rested Chiefs. The Chiefs played on Sunday, but the game felt like a bye to Smith, running back Jamaal Charles and most of the other starters. Because their playoff seeding already had been decided, coach Andy Reid kept all but two out of the starting lineup. Some starters were worked into the game as reserves, but the list of players who didn’t get into the game included Smith, Charles, offensive linemen Branden Albert and Rodney Hudson, tight end Anthony Fasano, defensive linemen Dontari Poe, Mike DeVito and Tyson Jackson, linebackers Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson, and defensive backs Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers.