Game Day! A late kickoff (as H2E has lamented), so we have some time to kill. Lucky for you, it's a good day for Kansas City Chiefs news. We lead today off with a rare look at Tamba Hali. Read and enjoy. Go Chiefs (and Jags)!
Tamba Hali doesn’t do interviews, or hasn’t for a long time. He prefers to remain quiet. It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy discussing things that are important to him. To Hali, the Chiefs’ 27-year-old linebacker, hard work and silence are deep-rooted, and he learned two decades ago that speaking can have consequences...
...He passes through a set of double doors, the border of where players usually roam in this building, and eases himself into a chair in a small office. Today is different.
"I promised you a story," he says, and he begins to pull the thick tape from his hands.
Croyle could have been on another team, the Chiefs left to trust their season to someone else. It’s easy to forget that now, but Croyle was a restricted free agent after last season. General manager Scott Pioli gave Cassel the $63 million contract, so he obviously didn’t want Croyle as the starter. But as a backup? Sure.
So knowing that in most years two-thirds of the teams in the league need a backup to start at least a game or two, this is the moment that Pioli thought Croyle could handle.
He should be encouraged by an offense that’s allowed a physically ordinary quarterback to emerge as one of the league’s most effective passers.
He should also be reinforced by what Brian Waters said the other day after Croyle replaced Cassel for the first time in practice.
"Honestly," he said, "I didn’t even notice until halfway through."
Today: Sunny, with a high near 76. Calm wind becoming west between 5 and 10 mph.
Game Day Forecast from The National Weather Service
In signing Johnson, 28, and Charles, 23, the Chiefs are whittling away at their list of key young players in the final season of their contracts. Linebacker Tamba Hali and cornerback Brandon Carr are in the final seasons of the contracts they signed as rookies, Hali in 2006 and Carr in 2008.
Otherwise, most of the Chiefs’ better young players are signed through 2011 or, in most cases, beyond.
Cassel's absence could make things more difficult for the Chiefs, but this game is more about the Chargers. Does a proud, veteran but injury-plagued team have enough left in its tank to make another late-season run? Last week's blowout loss to Oakland says they don't, but more likely the Chiefs will find out differently today against a desperate opponent pushed to the brink of elimination. Prediction: Chargers 27, Chiefs 20
Chiefs-Chargers scouting report from KC Star
The Chargers can't win anything more than a game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but they can lose any chance of securing a fifth straight AFC West title and virtually assure they won't get another playoff shot.
But in this game they must win, the Chargers also get a chance at redemption. What Phillips referred to, as much as the Chargers' continued quest to survive until the postseason, was that a week after being run over by the NFL's third-ranked running team, the Chargers face the league's top running team.
Chargers can't run out of time from The San Diego Union-Tribune
Tight end Antonio Gates, who has played through immense pain the past two games, backed off slightly from his proclamation earlier in the week that he would play in Sunday's must-win game against the Chiefs.
"I don't know," Gates said Friday when asked if he would definitely play. "It's rough. I couldn't go today."
That is significant in that he worked at least part of practice the previous two Fridays. However, he had indicated earlier this week he might not be able to practice. It would be something of a surprise if he doesn't face the Chiefs.
VJ to play; Gates, Sproles are maybes from The San Diego Union-Tribune
Duh-fence: From the standpoint of the Chargers and the season they've had to this late point, the timing of this particular matchup is either terrific or terrible, depending on how the home team plays it. About the last foe you want in town when you've had to draw a line in the sand is Kansas City, which has been stepping over lines all year, compiling more yardage than any ground game in the NFL with Jamaal Charles outside and Thomas Jones inside. In view of the Chargers' inability to stop the Raiders' run when they had to last week -- and the game before that in Oakland -- this is Job One, Two, Three and Punt. (Odd note: the Chargers actually have one more rushing TD than KC).
Five Things to Watch: Chiefs vs. Chargers from The San Diego Union-Tribune
"There's no magic to stopping the run," Burnett said. "It's about running backs trying to find holes and defenses trying to plug them. It's about hunter and hunted. They're going to get some yards, but we have to make it hard for them to run. We have to make (them) earn every inch and keep (them) from hitting the hole or the crease at full speed."
If the Chargers can stop the run and avoid negative plays that pave an easy path to the end zone, then they should be able to play their brand of football. If the Chiefs can score behind their rushing attack, the game could play out as it did last week.
There's an advantage to playing against Croyle as opposed to Cassel. Chargers coach Norv Turner wouldn't go into specifics, but he did say the Chargers would play defense differently with Croyle under center. One would assume that there would be increased effort and personnel devoted to stopping Jones and Charles.
CHARGERS: Chiefs hope to copy a winning formula from The North County Times
Regardless of what happens during the next month, however, there's no denying that Haley has over the first three-quarters of the season established himself as a legitimate coach-of-the-year candidate, along with colleagues such as New England's Bill Belichick, Atlanta's Mike Smith, Tampa Bay's Raheem Morris, Chicago's Lovie Smith and Rex Ryan of the New York Jets.
"It wasn't like we had bad players here before, but we didn't play as a team," Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali said. "Guys wanted to do their own thing. That's what Todd saw here. He saw the talent and the potential, but he knew that we didn't have a team.
"He came in here and changed the way we go about our business, gave us a sense of urgency. It was, 'If you don't want to do it, then you don't want to be here.'"
Coach Todd Haley is getting the most out of the surprising Kansas City Chiefs from The Los Angeles Times
Brad from Omaha wants to know what I think of Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr.
BW: Carr is an underrated player. The 2008 fifth-round draft pick is one of Kansas City's core players. He is a reason the defense is so strong. Fellow third-year cornerback Brandon Flowers gets a lot of press and it's deserved. But Carr is having strong season as well.
AFC West mailbag from ESPN
Had the Chargers not lost last week, this would be a huge game. San Diego technically still has a chance to make the playoffs, but they will need a miracle. Kansas City may be without QB Matt Cassel, which leaves them with Brodie Croyle. Yeah that's a real name. Croyle has started nine games for the Chiefs since 2006 and has lost every one. The Chargers will win this game, but don't expect to see them in the playoffs. San Diego wins a big one at home.
NFL Week 14 Predictions from The Suffolk Voice
Jacoby Ford = Dante Hall
The size comparison will be the first thing to jump off the page. Both men came into the league with questions about their size. Jacoby Ford out of Clemson, measured 5'9 and 185 pounds. Dante Hall was an inch shorter at 5'8 but two pounds heavier at 187. Hall came across his fame at Texas A&M as a star running back. Ford was an elite track star but excelled on the football field as a return man and a wide receiver.
Both of these players were clocked on the lower end of a 4.2 - 40. Dante had to fight his way into the league by way of NFL Europe. When the Kansas City Chiefs finally gave him a shot as a kick returner, he made it where no one would ever forget him.
Is Matt Ryan the Next Peyton Manning? from Xtra Point Football
In spite of Kansas City's 8-4 start, including 6-0 at home, the Chiefs have had only one legitimate sellout.
Arrowhead Stadium has a listed capacity of 76,416 but the last five games have had announced capacities under 70,000, meaning the team, local stations and sponsors have bought the non-premium tickets to ensure the games would be broadcast locally.
"It's a fact attendance figures tend to lag team performance," team chairman Clark Hunt said. "I know next year we'll have perhaps bigger crowds. I also know the economy has affected a lot of our fans. You just look around the National Football league, and that's true in every market."