Happy Wednesday! I think I'm going to have to set the alarm clock a little earlier. There is a lot of Kansas City Chiefs news out there this morning. A couple of the stories overlap a bit, but there are some new thoughts/perspectives here and there. I also think it's good to see where those perspectives are coming from. Read up and enjoy!
The classic formula for a team built for playoff success goes something like this: Have a strong running game, a resilient defense, a quarterback having a big season and players that don’t commit turnovers.
With the glaring exception of last week’s loss to Oakland, that describes the Chiefs. They led the league during the regular season in rushing. The defense allowed fewer points than all but 10 other teams. Matt Cassel, even after a horrid game against the Raiders, finished as the AFC’s fifth-rated passer. The Chiefs committed fewer turnovers than all but one other team.
Actually, you could describe it with the words Todd Haley screamed at Josh McDaniels during that infamous nonhandshake:
There’s a lot of (stuff) being talked about you.
In this case, it’s you, the Chiefs fans, being talked about. You’ve probably heard some of it. Maybe you’ve even nodded your head, yeah, a team that ranks 17th in attendance and 27th in capacity percentage probably shouldn’t be clinging to a reputation earned nearly 20 years ago as The Loudest Stadium in the NFL.
KC Star Photo Gallery: Chiefs' best catches
NFL.com Video: Warner's wild-card picks
During its eight home games, the Chiefs had the lowest attendance by capacity percentage among the 12 teams that reached the NFL playoffs. According to this season’s announced attendance figures, Arrowhead’s crowds filled an average of 88.6 percent of its 76,416-seat capacity — far less than the next-lowest playoff team, the Seattle Seahawks, whose fans filled Qwest Field to an average of 93 percent capacity. And the Seahawks finished 7-9 and became the first franchise in league history to reach the postseason with a losing record.
What was your most memorable moment of the regular season, your first as an NFL player?
"Probably my first catch, which was a touchdown. The reason why I remember it was because it was back home. I was in California, and it was against Oakland. I went to school in Oakland. They reviewed it, so it kind of gave me a little more TV time because they challenged the play. It was still a touchdown, though."
Chiefs Q&A | WR Verran Tucker from KC Star
"It'll be new. We saw them the first game last year and haven't seen them since - when Todd was just starting the program. It was a close game; it went right down to the end ... We just have to study them over the next few days and really get to know them.
"I think we understand how they're trying to build. It's a lot of the New England philosophy, obviously, along with Todd's personality. You can see it written all over the team - rough, tough, hard-playing team. (They) want to run the ball, stop the run, play well in the conditions, (and have) good quarterback play. It's going to be a big challenge."
Ravens' Harbaugh on the Chiefs from The Red Zone
I love that Herm Edwards' friendliness/need for attention/ongoing effort to get another coaching job leads him to do so much talking about the Chiefs. And every time I see him quoted or hear him talking, I imagine the control-the-message folks at Arrowhead Stadium squirming in their chairs or cussing under their breath, and I giggle just a little bit.
Chiefs, Blaine Gabbert, Jacob Pullen, Herm Edwards, and a contest from Don't Kill the Mellinger
KC had only allowed five sacks in the first six games - at the point I did my prior post on the O-Line. However in the ten games since, they have allowed 27 - over three times as many per game. Even worse, they have allowed 14 in the last four games. That's a rate 67% above the league average!
I could talk about the rushing part of this equation too, but that's another post.
The bottom line is that, although Kansas City is still third in the league by OLR, they were first at one point and they have been dropping fast.
Chiefs: Offensive Line - From Boom to Bust? from Upon Further Review
How it pays off for fifth-seeded Baltimore (12-4) depends on the defense's ability to contain Kansas City's top-ranked ground game on its turf.
The Ravens counter with a fifth-ranked unit that allowed five touchdowns and opponent averages of 3.9 yards a carry and 93.9 a game, capped by Sunday's 13-7 win in which they yielded 90 yards and denied the Cincinnati Bengals in numerous short-yardage situations.
Then again, the Bengals can't be confused with the Chiefs (10-6), who improved dramatically in what will ultimately be Charlie Weis' lone season as offensive coordinator (he's moving on to the University of Florida). Kansas City's balance is no shock given Weis' three Super Bowl wins with the New England Patriots and a philosophy based on a strong run game.
Going on road in playoffs not daunting for Ray Lewis, Ravens from USA Today
They'll probably need to throw out a grappling hook someday and snag Casey Wiegmann by his tough, old hide.
Howling in protest, fingernails clawing the earth, Kansas City's iron man center will be dragged off the field. It's possible that he will tell his coach it's time somebody else went in, but the tough-as-nails Wiegmann is unlikely to simply give up his amazing streak of more than 10,000 consecutive snaps.
Chiefs veteran Wiegmann has 10,141 straight snaps from Sports Illustrated
Jones' hard-charging style - and his willingness to mentor third-year talent Jamaal Charles- go a long way toward explaining why Kansas City will take the NFL's most punishing ground game into Sunday's wild-card playoff matchup with the visiting Baltimore Ravens.
Other veterans last offseason might have seen a franchise that had won 10 games the previous three years and omitted Arrowhead Stadium from their free agent tour. Jones saw possibilities.
"I was excited when I signed here. When I visited, I felt the energy of the place," he says. "It's a perfect fit for me.
"Guys love playing football. They love playing together. It's a family atmosphere."
The Football Outsiders are not giving up on the Kansas City Chiefs now that the team has lived up to their preseason prediction.
The Chiefs are limping into Sunday's wild-card game against visiting Baltimore after a 31-10 home loss to Oakland on Sunday. Still, the Football Outsiders have broke down three areas in which the Chiefs can exploit the Ravens. They revolve around the play of standouts Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and Tamba Hali.
Football Outsiders still like Chiefs from ESPN
It will be business as usual for anyone trying to negotiate the traffic and construction on the way to Sunday's playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium, traffic officials said...
...Construction continues at Blue Ridge Cutoff, but traffic officials said there should be no problems on game day. The project manager told KCTV5's Amy Anderson on Tuesday that construction is being put on hold until the last game of the season.
They say what happens on the practice field transfers to the stadium on game day. If that's the case, then what is happening to the Ravens?
According to coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens are close to becoming an explosive offensive team because he has seen it on rare occasions during the season, and in practice as recently as last week.
Time for an eye exam, right?
Ravens' offense not explosive, but situation could be from The Baltimore Sun
At the start of the season, the Ravens had envisioned heading into the playoffs with a top-10 offense Instead, they are beginning the postseason at Kansas City this weekend with a bottom-10 one.
The players have shown no signs of panic but there are plenty of indications that they're disappointed with the regression of an offense that features a promising young quarterback, three proven wide receivers and a big-play running back.
Over the past six weeks, the Ravens' high-flying attack has taken a nosedive, dropping from No. 12 to No. 22. Their struggles bottomed out in Sunday's 13-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, when they could only put together 199 yards of total offense - the second-fewest in the 53-game Harbaugh-Cameron era.
Detailing Ravens' recent offensive woes from The Baltimore Sun
The open road will have to wait, because Redding is on a playoff team for the first time in his career. In fact, this is the first time he has been on a winning team since college. Redding spent six mostly miserable seasons in Detroit with the Lions, including an 0-16 campaign in 2008 that had him questioning himself as a player, and then a dreadful 5-11 year with the Seattle Seahawks in 2009 before signing with the Ravens this offseason.
"It was one of those things where you'd see one of your old college teammates in the offseason and they'd flash their Super Bowl ring," Redding said, sitting in front of his locker at M&T Bank Stadium shortly after the Ravens wrapped up their regular season. "It would cut pretty deep."
For Ravens' Redding, playoff football is a new — and long-awaited — experience From The Baltimore Sun
Analysis: If Baltimore's run defense holds down the fort, FS Ed Reed - who has eight interceptions in 10 games - can roam freely if Kansas City is forced to the air. With a wealth of postseason experience against the young Chiefs, the Ravens earn a slight nod on the road at raucous Arrowhead Stadium.
Our pick: Ravens 23-19
Ravens-Chiefs AFC wild-card preview: Who will win and why? from USA Today
Now, the Ravens are about to face arguably a more formidable pass rushing defense during their wild-card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali is an aggressive, fast pass rusher who recorded 14½ sacks this season. The Chiefs also have defensive end Wallace Gilberry, who recorded a career-high seven sacks.
As a defense, they have 38 sacks.
The Ravens allowed 40 sacks during the regular season.
"There's blocking schemes that can be executed better," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday.
Ravens O-line under pressure from The Carroll County Times
I'm picking the Ravens. I might have gone with KC against the Jets, but Baltimore is the wrong matchup. The Chiefs went 2-4 in the AFC West this year, the worst record for a division winner since the '71 49ers. Both the Chargers and Raiders just owned Kansas City inside the last month, winning by a combined 62-10. The Chiefs went 7-1 at home this year, and I'm not counting them out, but they played the easiest schedule in the AFC, can't throw, and really struggled at the end of the season. Baltimore by a touchdown.
NFL Week 17 Power Rankings from Sports Central
Will the Trend to More Football Weight Finally Stop? Kansas City led the NFL in rushing, and since rushing is about blocking, this means the Chiefs got top-notch line play. Reader Pat Nagel notes the Chiefs are bucking the trend regarding excess weight and bulging bellies on linemen. Coach Todd Haley insisted his offensive line become leaner; the starters' current average, 307 pounds, is hardly swimsuit-calendar material but perhaps 15 pounds less than the NFL average. The Chiefs list eight players of at least 300 pounds as opposed to 15 players of 300-plus on the Arizona roster and 16 players of 300-plus on the Auburn roster. "I wonder if leaner linemen could be a trend as teams move away from the road grader offenses of old," Nagel writes. Perhaps -- the high-tempo, high-scoring Oregon Ducks list but six players at 300-plus pounds.
TMQ's MVP: New England's Dan Koppen from ESPN
When Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller and Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry took to the gridiron on Sunday, they weren't wearing their usual adiZero Scorch footwear, which weigh a still-featherweight 8.6 ounces each. Instead, they were officially unveiling the 6.9-ounce 5 Star, which Adidas says is the lightest football cleat ever made.
Adidas Unveils Lightest Football Cleat Ever from Wired
Q. You've been on the record as saying the Ravens would be one of the toughest match-ups for the Patriots in the playoffs. But now that we know it will either be the Ravens, Chiefs or Jets, who do you think would be the "easiest" of the three? -- Micah P. (Cambridge, Mass.)
A. Micah, I'd say the Chiefs. They haven't entered the playoffs on a high note and while I give them credit for a great season, I don't think their schedule has been very tough.
Pumped about the possibilities from ESPN Boston
10. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs - In many respects, Cassel has had a fantastic season, starting with his phenomenal 27-7 TD-interception margin. Cassel's ratio was 22-2 over a 10-game stretch after going 4-3 in the first four games of the season. However, before we get too enamored with the numbers, remember that Kansas City hasn't had the toughest schedule and Cassel clearly benefitted. He had a 20-0 ratio in eight games against the following seven teams: Denver (twice), Seattle, Arizona, Houston, Buffalo, Tennessee and Jacksonville. Those teams are awful, even if Seattle and Jacksonville had chances to go to the playoffs going into the final week of the season. We'll see how Cassel fairs in games against tougher competition, particularly given that he hasn't played in a playoff game.
Playoff QB rankings: Brady leads way from Yahoo! Sports
No more does the NFL's only team in Southern California boast extreme talent advantages within the AFC West.
Make no mistake: Norv Turner's Chargers (9-7) had enough talent to win a fifth consecutive AFC West title this year, instead of finishing behind a team less talented, the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6).
Chargers No Longer Most Talented Team from The San Francisco Chronicle
Yes, yes. There's the familiarity aspect there with the Chiefs. Maybe Romeo Crennel and future Floridian Charlie Weis can stop Brady because they know him. On the other hand, Todd Haley seems just enough of a doof to go against their calls, and don't Brady and Bill Belichick know them just as well anyway? We all love Matt Cassel. But if you give me Bill Belichick vs. Matt Cassel in a playoff game I'm taking the teacher. Jamaal Charles scares you, but if you make Kansas City's game one-dimensional, the Pats would roll. Besides, have you seen the Chiefs lately? Seattle could beat them.
So, unfortunately, the Ravens are going to demolish KC Sunday, which should set up a Pats-Ravens playoff rematch from a year ago.
Sunny forecast from The Boston Globe
Brady's run of 335 straight passes without an interception is an NFL record. Only 0.81 per cent of his 492 passes have been picked off, third best in NFL history. Damon Huard's percentage was 0.41 with Kansas City with one interception but only 244 passes in 2006, and Joe Ferguson's was 0.66 with Buffalo in 1976, with one interception in only 151 passes.
Tom Brady’s interceptions: As simple as 1-2-3-4 from The Toronto Star
Maintaining gap control or lane integrity will be a big assignment vs. Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. Unlike previous seasons, the Ravens' defense has struggled at times vs. the run in allowing 93.9 yards a game this season. In some games, like the first one against Cleveland, the defensive linemen got knocked off the ball by a bigger and stronger Cleveland offensive line. On other occasions, defenders quickly abandoned lanes to pursue ballcarriers only to have them cut back for big runs.
AFC playoff team reports: Steelers run game inconsistent from The Sporting News
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Kansas City's schedule was really easy.
Kansas City won as many games this year (10) as it had in the previous three, quickly rebuilding what Herm Edwards had torn apart during his brief and destructive tenure (2006-08). It's a nice happy story. But the fact of the matter is the Chiefs built their comeback against the softest schedule in the NFL.
COLD HARD FOOTBALL FACTS from Sports Illustrated
The team's website has a page dedicated to Winning Wednesday and says the opportunities come from showing your team spirit, talking trash on Twitter and "Ravenizing" your Facebook page, among other things.An individual winner will receive a football signed by Ray Rice. A school will win a visit from mascot Poe, and talking trash about the Chiefs could win someone a helmet signed by Anquan Boldin.
Ravens Fans Can Score With 'Winning Wednesday' from WBALTV
Days before the Chiefs finished the regular season Sunday against Oakland, it leaked that Weis was headed to Florida. Chiefs coach Todd Haley had no idea. His players didn't know, either. Then came Sunday, when the Chiefs got their minds right for the playoffs by being blown away at home.
No, you can't blame that 31-10 loss entirely on the distraction caused by Weis. But you can do this. You can look at Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, who played his worst game of the season (11 of 33, 115 yards, two interceptions, 19.1 passer rating). Before Sunday Cassel had been an honors candidate, with 27 touchdowns and five interceptions. What changed Sunday? Not much. Only the news that his offensive coordinator had been flirting with, and accepted a proposal from, another team. Cause and effect? That's what I see.
Edsall, Weis: Staying on down low, and going lower from CBS Sports