Many say the Kansas City Chiefs were "lucky" the first 9 games this season but this writer would disagree with that assessment. To say this team was only lucky suggests that they aren't good, and they are very good, maybe good enough to get a third crack at Denver. We all like to focus on the All Pro players and the top draft picks but sometimes the very things needed to make a team complete come from more unlikely sources. A solution to pushing this team over the top may lie in 3 current 7th round picks on the Chiefs roster.
The first key being more involvement of a stud WR named Junior Hemingway. Hemingway was a 7th round draft pick in 2012 who has shown clear signs of big time potential. He was one of the bright spots against Denver catching a touchdown pass and adding a couple other nice grabs. Junior is a solid 225 lbs. WR who has the potential to make things happen and would make for a good tandem with Bowe. Avery has talent and good NFL experience but after several key drops its time to start involving Hemingway and see what kind of impact he can make with greater opportunity. Alex Smith is throwing the ball with some serious zip, the best of his career in fact. He needs receivers who can snatch his passes out of the air and Hemingway is damn good. Its time to increase his snap and target counts.
The second key, and this might not be a popular one, is sticking with Marcus Cooper. Yes he got schooled against Denver, but I think its an experience he will grow from. Cooper a 7th round pick by the 49ers this year who KC claimed off waivers has talent. He wasn't playing against the Denver Broncos WR core at Rutgers but he has gotten some serious NFL experience the last few weeks and will be better for it. Besides flashes of a less than 100% Hali the Chiefs had zero pass rush leaving the best QB in the game to throw darts to some of the game's top WRs. A little more help over the top from the safeties, a lot more pass rush pressure and I think you'll find this rookie will rise up to the occasion if he gets another crack at Denver. Peyton Manning doesn't get picked off very often and Cooper had a nice one Sunday that got overshadowed by Manning's "perfect" throws to Decker and Thomas.
The third key is maybe the most obvious one of them all, the real reason #31 got exposed Sunday....NO pass rush! If you give Peyton Manning (or Philip Rivers) time to throw they are just too damn good and will expose your secondary. Its a simple yet effective concept that the Chiefs seem to have not gotten the memo on after failing to sack manning for the 2nd game in a row. What makes no sense at all is that the guy who may well be their best pass rusher (especially with Houston out and Hali dealing with an ankle issue) stood idol on the sidelines the whole game! Mike Catapano (#77) is a flat out stud! A 6'4" 280 lbs. moose of a hybrid D Lineman/OLB pass rushing specialist with 4.65 speed and serious athleticism. Catapano had a brilliant senior season before being drafted in the 7th round by the Chiefs this year. He has shown nothing but promise on the field as a Chief, when he has been on the field that is. Drawing high praise as a pass rusher from John Dorsey, Andy Reid and Bob Sutton its completely baffling as to why a team clearly struggling in that department won't deploy one of their greatest weapons.
The number 7 is known for being lucky and so is the number 3. These three 7th round draft picks could do wonders for rounding out a team filled with Pro Bowlers and a top notch QB. Alex Smith is not a "game manager" he is a top flight NFL QB who has been throwing darts all over the field the last 3 weeks. What he needs are receivers who can snatch the ball out of the air for him, some tighter secondary play and maybe most importantly some pressure on the opposing QB. If the Chiefs can improve on these 3 areas they can contend with anybody, and that includes the Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning may well be the NFL's version of Superman but his kryptonite always has been getting hit and disrupted.
If that Chiefs D who averaged 5 sacks a game the first 7 weeks shows up for a 3rd Denver vs. KC game the outcome will be very different. However if the team who didn't sack Manning once and barely touched him in 2 straight games shows up again, well...you have already seen that movie. Leaving sacks on the sideline and watching balls bounce off receiver's hands will eventually lead to the secondary being burned for game winning heroics by #18. KC could use a little luck and I'd say having their 7th round players who wear double 7s and double 8s on the field more will help #31 from being unfairly vilified. Besides who can't use a little extra luck? Some say you are better off being lucky than good but in my experience a team needs both to win a Superbowl. This Kansas City team has the talent but leaving some of that talent on the sidelines when it's clearly needed is just plain unlucky.