After the Chiefs beat the Broncos today, I couldn't help but think that these Chiefs are coming and staying together at the right time of year. All too often during my lifetime, the Chiefs have dropped a "must win" game to only watch my hopes for the playoffs go away with the nice fall weather in Kansas City.
As winter begins to roll into this fine city, I can't help that think that the Chiefs are built for this type of weather. Number one in the league in rushing and top ten in rushing defense. As all of us know, when the weather gets cold, teams prefer to run the ball rather than throw it. Footballs get hard in the cold which it makes it difficult for receivers to catch.
As much as I hated seeing Dwayne Bowe get shut out at Arrowhead today, I believe it was a good test for the Chiefs to see what they are made of in December. Although the score didn't reflect it, the Chiefs responded. Jamal Charles ran for 116 yards on just 21 carries for an average of 5.5 ypc. Thomas Jones went for 53 yards on 11 carries for a 4.8 ypc average. Pretty good numbers considering how things went the last time KC met the Broncos in Denver.
Matt Cassel went 17 for 31 for 196 yards and the Chiefs only touchdown. The Broncos focused on shutting down Dwayne Bowe today and had success in that area. Cassel only targeted Bowe 3 times and never connected. Cassel got most of his passing done to Jones and rookie sensation Tony Moeaki. They each had 4 receptions for 54 yards.
The defense certainly played their part in this win. They held Kyle Orton and the 4th ranked passing offense to 117 yards on 28 attempts with only 9 completions. Orton was sacked 4 times for a loss 31 yards. The Chiefs came away even in the turnover department with 1 fumble lost by Dexter McCluster and 1 recovered fumble by Tamba Hali. Even more impressive was that Denver's fumble came on 1 of 4 sacks on Orton. Hali and Arenas both racked up 2 sacks with Hali causing and recovering Orton's fumble. This brings Hali to 10 sacks on the season.
Even though this win was ugly, there were a lot good things that came out of this game today. First, we know what the Chiefs are made of late in the season. Second, we know that we still have game without Dwayne Bowe catching balls all over the field. Lastly, we know the Chiefs can finish when it really counts.
As we enter into December with hopes of a playoff birth, I can't help think that we had some help from the football gods today. The Chiefs played ugly, committing 8 penalties for 60 yards negating a nice touchdown run by Charles. The defense gave up 161 yards to Knowshon Moreno for only his second career 100+ rushing game (the first came against the Chiefs earlier this season). Even with these problems, the Chiefs pulled out a win.
I am not ready to anoint the Chiefs Superbowl champions or even AFC West champs just yet but we are one step closer to realizing our dream, a return to the playoffs. The Chiefs still have a tough road ahead of them with games against the Chargers, the upstart Rams, Titans and Raiders. A win next week in SD should seal the deal for the Chiefs but the Raiders are only 2 games back and currently undefeated in the AFC West division games.
As an extra perk to winning against Broncos, Oakland put another loss on the Chargers placing them 2 games back of first. This is the first loss San Diego has suffered in December in the Turner/Rivers era. Not only are the football gods smiling, they gave the Chiefs a little wink.
Here's to a good win today and hopefully a good month of December to the Chiefs. You should never count your chickens before they are hatched but it never hurts to look at the eggs and hope.