The Chiefs made their best effort to prevent a departure from their normal routine, as abnormal as the trip south might have been. The date in Mexico, a franchise-first, required a lengthy chartered flight on the front end, unique travel arrangements in the midst of it and an arrival back in Kansas City as the sun rose. Wasn't much normal about it.

So it served as ideal timing that the bye week arrived on the heels of a unique experience.


It's complicated. Recent comparative history — granted, it's not exactly the same scenario — suggests an obstacle still awaits the Chiefs.

Before the Chargers and Chiefs met for Monday Night Football at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, eight teams had comprised four international games. Each of the eight enjoyed a bye the following week. But when they came back, well, apparently it wasn't quite enough time to recuperate. They combined for an 0-8 record in their ensuing game. The average margin of defeat: 20.8 points.

To be fair, those previous games were in London, a more significant contrast to a regular NFL road game than one in Mexico. But the Chiefs are working against an extra element. Each of those London games took place on Sunday afternoons. The Chiefs and Chargers were playing into the late Monday hours, not departing town until after midnight.

When they returned Tuesday morning, they quickly held a team meeting before coach Andy Reid dismissed the players for six days.

"I think it was good to get a little break in there," Reid said. "I got the guys out. We're far enough along in the year where I felt comfortable doing that — just let them decompress there a little bit and get healthy. Obviously these are long seasons, and (the bye) coming this late isn't a bad thing with where we were sitting."

That history provides the alarming trend. But here's the other, well-known side of it: Reid is 17-3 after a bye in his coaching career. The Chiefs have 13 days to prepare for Oakland, their fading but still most competitive impedance to an AFC West title.

A week off allows for extra time to construct a game plan, but it also promotes self-scouting. And that process revealed two primary areas of focus over the final five weeks -- penalties and red zone efficiency. They go hand-in-hand. The Chiefs have been penalized the eighth most yards in the NFL this season. They rank 23rd in the league in red-zone efficiency.

"We need to take care of those. They've affected us in the field. It affects us in the red zone," Reid said. "We need to make sure we clean that up, and that's something we can do -- that's obvious. The other things are a bit smaller, and I'm not going to get into those, but if we take care of that, we will be better all the way around. If you get a penalty in this league on a drive, then it cuts your percentages of opportunities to score way down. You need to get rid of those."

There's plenty of material from which to gather intel, given the tardiness of the bye's arrival. An earlier week off might have proven beneficial, given the rash of injuries.

But this one might, too. Reid said he's optimistic wide receiver Tyreek Hill won't miss time after exiting the first quarter of the game in Mexico because of a hamstring strain. Frank Clark has battled ongoing injuries. As has quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Even the staff took advantage of a couple of days away.

"You can get a couple of days off and get out and decompress as a coach and get yourself ready to go for the final few games here," Reid said. "That's what we did as a staff."