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Arrowheadlines: Chiefs News 1/9

Game Day!! Great day for Kansas City Chiefs new, too. Be sure to find the article. I think it echoes the thoughts of a lot of posters here. A special hat tip to all of you who will be part of the local Sea of Red. Be loud for those of us that will represent you remotely. Enjoy the news. Enjoy the game. Go Chiefs!!!

There are a million moments that should have led him somewhere else, but here he is anyway, set for the biggest day of his professional life a year after his most miserable time.

Today he can be the first Chiefs quarterback to win a playoff game since Joe Montana, and after that he has the opportunity to be Kansas City’s biggest sports icon since Derrick Thomas.

No NFL quarterback has ever had this kind of background... 

...Doubts? Never.

"Honestly," he says, "I feel like I can deal with anything at this point."

Chiefs QB Matt Cassel finds a home in Kansas City from KC Star

The Chiefs lived with the inevitable rookie mistakes, but it’s difficult to picture the Chiefs as AFC West champions and getting ready for today’s home playoff game against Baltimore without the contributions from those eight players.

Berry, safety Kendrick Lewis and tight end Tony Moeaki have all been starters. Moeaki is second on the Chiefs with 47 catches. Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas got considerable playing time — McCluster as a receiver and runner, and Arenas as a nickel back. Both players also returned kickoffs and punts.

Verran Tucker and Cory Greenwood were two of the Chiefs’ top special-teams players, while Jon Asamoah is a reserve offensive lineman

Chiefs rookies played crucial roles in gaining a playoff berth from KC Star

Today: A chance of flurries before noon. Cloudy, with a high near 31. East southeast wind between 10 and 13 mph.

Gameday Forecast from The National Weather Service Video: Victory is waiting for you: Wild Card Sunday

KC Star Photo Gallery: The Chiefs' Matt Cassel

At age 21, Berry had more money than most people could spend in a lifetime. Rookies get much of their contract’s guaranteed value up front, mostly in signing bonuses. Berry could buy most anything he wanted, from any store, at any corner of the globe. Instead, he remembered what his parents had taught him, and the warnings that most of today’s rookies hear — 78 percent of all NFL players are broke or financially stressed after retirement — and Berry took stock.

"That stat scares me," he says.

Late last May, when Berry was driving around one night to learn his new home, he stumbled upon something that felt familiar. It was something comfortable, and he logged onto his Twitter page to let everyone know.

"I finally found the dollar store in KC!" he tweeted.

Chiefs safety Eric Berry’s roots in Georgia keep him anchored in KC from KC Star

For all their stars and hype, the Ravens’ percentage on making quarterbacks make bad decisions — common mistakes like staring down receivers, forcing the ball into coverage and not reading a defense properly — is only 2.7 this year, down from their mark of 3.2 percent last season.

"I don’t think they’re quite as creative as they were under Rex Ryan, when they had much higher bad-decision percentages," Joyner said.

The Chiefs’ defense posted a higher bad-decision percentage — 3.8, easily in the top five in the league.

By the numbers: The strengths and vulnerabilities of Baltimore and KC from KC Star

WR Dexter McCluster 
The speedy rookie has had minimal impact in the five games since he returned from a high ankle sprain. That has to change against the Ravens. McCluster is capable of delivering big plays, and the Chiefs figure to need a few in a game where rushing yardage may be difficult to come by.

Key players for the Chiefs and the Ravens from KC Star

"You look at Matt Cassel when he was with the Patriots, he took the team to 11-5," former New England safety Rodney Harrison said of 2008 when Brady was out because of a knee injury. "They didn’t make the playoffs. But this year, he’s having a career year with the Chiefs, just leading and being real consistent and steady.

"And Tom has had this MVP type of season. Matt Ryan for Atlanta has been very consistent. You get a good steady quarterback like that, and surround him with players who really don’t care about the type of credit they get, guys who are filling roles and veteran players with mix of youth … and you get good coaching behind it, and anything can happen.

"You look at those three teams, they’re modeled similarly after each other, and that’s why they’ve been able to have such success."

Chiefs, Falcons have found success by emulating the Patriots from KC Star

The Ravens play it close to the vest on offense and let Lewis and the defense dominate. This season, the Ravens were third in the NFL in fewest points allowed for the third straight season.

"Defense is our identity," said Lewis, the only player in NFL history with 35 career sacks and 30 interceptions. "We never shy away from that, and as long as I’m here, we’re always going to be known for defense. From the early days in my career, we sat back and watched the way the National Football League turned pass-happy with the rules leaning toward offense. But from the time we won the Super Bowl, we started something.

Lewis confident that Ravens’ defense ready for Chiefs from KC Star

After the grind of practice, treatments and meetings at Arrowhead, the Chiefs often spend their down time with one another. Although there is some cross-mingling, most of the players hang out with their position teammates.

Chiefs’ social scene tends to break down by position from KC Star

Just before noon, a large man sets his Range Rover in park. He swings open the front door, and he’s noticeably in need of a shave — though his long dreadlocks spill immaculately down his back. The owner of the shop, DeJuan Bonds, immediately recognizes one of his richest clients and offers a welcoming smile. Chiefs defensive end Tyson Jackson smiles back.

"What up, boy!" Jackson bellows.

Since opening last year at a suburban strip mall off 119th Street in Overland Park, the Purple Label has been the go-to place for the Chiefs and their diverse fans.

Chiefs players add a red cast to the Purple Label Luxury Barber Shop from KC Star

What’s been the highlight of your season?

"The best day of any season is opening day. You get the goosebumps out. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and it’s still pretty exciting."

Q&A with Chiefs center Casey Wiegmann from KC Star

"Todd leads a great life," said Haloti Ngata, the Ravens' Pro Bowldefensive tackle. "When I came here, I looked up to him. I knew that if I followed him, I could have a great life in the NFL, and also at home."

Like Heap, Ngata is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and one of four Mormons on the Ravens' squad. The others are defensive end Paul Kruger and rookie tight end Dennis Pitta. No NFL club has as many LDS members.

That's a plus for the Ravens as they enter the playoffs, team officials said. Basic tenets of the Mormon faith, such as devotion to family, humility and respect for one's elders, all translate to football.

In a brash NFL world, Ravens' Heap has relied on faith to give him structure from The Baltimore Sun

Most of John Harbaugh's fondest childhood memories revolve around football.

Playing in a pole vault sand pit next to the football field at an Ohio high school where his father, Jack, was putting the team through its summer practices. Being taped to the goal posts - along with his brother, Jim - by players at Michigan when their father was a member of legendary Wolverines coach Bo Schembechler's staff.

Todd Haley has similar recollections.

Ravens' John Harbaugh, Chiefs' Todd Haley follow fathers into football from The Baltimore Sun

With his powerful right arm, he's brought the Ravens back in the fourth quarter against their biggest rival and the NFL's stingiest defense. With his trademark calmness, he's guided them to the playoffs every season he's been in the league while becoming the team's all-time leading passer.

But there's an uncertainty whether Flacco can carry the Ravens to the game's ultimate destination based on his struggles in the playoffs. His first two trips to the postseason have resulted in one touchdown and six interceptions, a product of growing pains as a rookie and actual physical pain last season.

Ravens show confidence in Flacco, but others still wonder from The Baltimore Sun

 Chiefs run offense vs. Ravens run defense: With Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, the Chiefs have theNFL's top-ranked running game. It's even better at home, where Kansas City has averaged a league-best 182.9 yards rushing. The Ravens have the fifth-ranked run defense, but their weakness has been giving up big plays. Charles has averaged an NFL-leading 6.0 yards per carry. The Ravens' run defense has buckled down lately, holding three of the past four teams to less than 3 yards a carry. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (thigh) missed two days of practice but is expected to start. Stopping the run has become a long-standing tradition for the Ravens, who haven't allowed a running back to crack 100 yards against them in 13 postseason games.

Edge: EVEN

Jamison Hensley's scouting report: Ravens at Chiefs from The Baltimore Sun

"As you watch warmups, you're watching how the other team is reacting to [the conditions]," Rosburg said. "Those are the kind of things that you do tactically to try to gain an advantage, to see how their kickers and punters are reacting to the cold weather and the wind. And every special teams coach in the league does the same thing."

Looking for a special teams edge from The Baltimore Sun

"I'm never going to pick against Baltimore when they play a team that hasn't played them before," Billick said on the NFL Network. "It's like playing Peyton Manning for the first time. You can't duplicate it in practice. You have to be in the game to understand the tempo, mentality and physicality of the game. But I don't know that Kansas City can hold up against Baltimore in that they're unfamiliar with them. I don't think Kansas City is quite ready for Baltimore just yet."

Former coach Billick picks Ravens to meet Eagles in Super Bowl from The Baltimore Sun

You can forgive the good folk out here for their unbridled passion and excitement. It is playoff time in the National Football League. And there is a good reason why the fans of the Kansas City Chiefs have whipped themselves into a frenzy.

The Chiefs haven't won a playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium since Jan. 8, 1994, when Nick Lowery's 32-yard field goal defeated the Steelers, 27-24.

Chiefs fans ravin’ about possibilities from The Boston Globe

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has the third-best conversion rate on third and eight or more. On 70 attempts, he has converted 27 passes into first downs, a 38.6 percent conversion rate that is bettered only by Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick.

Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs from The Washington Post

Outlook: Young Chiefs and Cassel may be in over their heads, but Ravens don't blow out any teams. They were 2-1 in overtime games in regular season and their only easy wins were over Carolina and Denver, the two worst teams in the league. The Chiefs went 7-1 at home, losing only the finale against Oakland after the division title had been wrapped up. Crowd noise is always a problem at Arrowhead. How will Flacco handle it? A Kansas City upset would not be a shocker. Ravens, 28-27.

Weekend could end with thrillers from Buffalo News

Joe Flacco is known as Joe Cool for his stoic demeanor and icy composure, delivering spirals with authority and a certain nonchalance with his textbook mechanics.

Unfortunately, though, Flacco has yet to warm up below freezing temperatures during his first two trips to the NFL playoffs.

Flacco's time to step up is now from The Carroll County Times

 This article was originally going to examine special teams and intangibles for both clubs and then end with my customary prediction on the final score of the game.

But I have to admit something to you, dear reader ... I'm getting sick and tired of the total lack of respect the Chiefs are getting around the nation in regards to KC's chances of winning this game.  So my article's focus changed as quickly as my blood pressure started to rise.

KC Chiefs/Baltimore Ravens preview: Play the team and not the reputation from

The Ravens have had big-time issues with pre-snap penalties this year, so the crowd noise at Arrowhead is a definite concern for this team.

They were flagged for six pre-snap infractions last week against the Bengals, including four false starts. And that was at home, with minimal crowd noise while the Ravens were on offense.

The penalties have slowed the offense this season, setting them back in long-yardage situations and making it tougher on Flacco to convert third downs. The players and coaches are well aware that can't continue in the playoffs.

Chiefs home-field advantage is a substantial one from

Brady told the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Cassel that No. 5 Baltimore (12-4) is big and physical with the best defense they've played. The Patriots, who were thumped by the Ravens in last year's playoffs before avenging the loss this season, would know.

Now, Cassel knows, too. That's the way it has worked since the Patriots drafted Cassel in the seventh round in 2005, despite starting just one game at Southern Cal - at halfback. Brady taught, Cassel learned.

A rising Cassel for KC from The Boston Herald

Cassel said his wife's athletic background makes her a valuable sounding board. "The great part about my wife is she's consistent," he said the other day.

After Cassel had his worst game of the season, completing 33.3 percent of his passes and throwing two interceptions in a home loss to Oakland last Sunday, Killian Cassel repeated their mantra: "Push the reset button."

For Cassels, Athletics Are Part of the Family from The New York Times

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