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Chiefs Mailbag: Playoff chances, The Walking Dead returns and penalties

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Peter Aiken

It's been a great couple of weeks. I was finally licensed to practice law (criminals of the world, tremble with fear!), the Royals are basically proving there is no spoon, LB Joe Mays is going to start practicing soon... lots of good news all over the place. My daughter even said "dada" for the first time. I'm telling you, it's been that kind of week.

Of course, the only downside has been the bye week. The terrible, horrible, no-good-very-bad bye week. You can tell me players need rest. You can tell me Andy Reid needs time to figure out how he wants to run the offense (or get the memo that Kelce / DAT / Davis need the ball more). You can tell me you like a week of no-stress football. I don't care. I need my Chiefs football fix, and the bye week always leaves me a little shaky.

But we persevere and push through. If Joel can occasionally wear real pants like the rest of us (thank you, Chris, for your twitter feed. Just scroll, guys. It's true. As is some insane story about people dressing up as scary CLOWNS????), I can write during a bye week. With that in mind, let's mailbag.

Well, unfortunately for our defense, Eric Berry's return may end up waiting another week. Hang on a second.

(Walks outside, slashes tires of random car)

OK, I feel better now. Anyway, having DAT on board and Stephenson back can only help an offense that has flashed serious potential.

Of course, it's worth noting that Ryan Harris has been playing some really, really solid ball the last few weeks. After starting off looking like trouble (or perhaps someone with a grudge against Alex Smith) this season, Harris has been really locking things down at RT. I think Stephenson will end up getting the nod, but I wouldn't bet my life savings or one of my children on it.

And DAT... Oh, DAT. For starters, the man should absolutely be returning every single kick and punt Sunday. I like Knile Davis and his explosion, but you can see watching DAT return kicks that he's in a league all his own. He's just gifted in the open field. And not just speed either, but the vision to put that speed to its proper use.

As far as on offense... well, it's tough to believe Andy Reid will trust a new guy after seeing how slowly he's incorporating the force of nature that is Travis Kelce. It seems like Reid values veteran presence over talent, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit to guys like Hemingway (who, to be fair, answered the call when thrown at vs. the Niners) and A.J. Jenkins (hang on, let me go smash that car's windows...) get a lot more snaps than DAT again.

Personally, I see a guy with unique speed and playmaking ability. There's no reason our offense shouldn't include DAT on at least 20 snaps a game. He can line up all over the field, make it happen.

Anyway, I've had my prediction posted elsewhere, so I'll just make a general statement here. I very much fear Philip Rivers, but I also think this is an underrated Chiefs team. I've said it before and I'll say it again; the Chiefs demolished the Patriots (who have since proceeded to show they don't, in fact, suck), beat the Dolphins pretty comfortably (ish) on the road, and took two potential Super Bowl contenders to the wire in their house. If it weren't for that insane, awful, ridiculous Titans game (should I be banned from Arrowhead? Am I terrible luck?), things would look pretty good.

I see it as very, very possible the pass rush gets to Rivers (recall that prior to Hali / Houston exiting with injuries the Chargers had only 3 points), and nothing about the Chargers defense scares me. I can see a win.

All right, let's get on with it. You all KNEW I was going to answer The Walking Dead questions. Spoiler alert, skip-here-if-you-don't-like-TWD-alert.

Yep, it's two-for-one special on TWD questions. First off, before I answer those questions... how ridiculously great was the first episode of Season 5? To quote Clay Wendler, it will melt your face. I think it included something like 2,947 zombie kills, 894 human kills, and roughly 634 "YES!!!!" moments. Basically, it was the first episode of TWD where everything you were hoping would happen actually DID happen.

Of course, considering how happy things ended, can we all just agree that something really awful is around the corner? This show has gotten darker and darker as things have moved on, and there's just no way Rick and company are going to have things go this smoothly for them from here on out.

Also, the amount I like Rick is inversely proportional to how much he worries about decisions and directly proportional to how much he's ripping zombies / people to shreds. He never gets brought into the discussion of TWD's Most Dangerous People (Michonne, Daryl, and Tyreese are pretty much neck-and-neck-and neck. Except it's obviously Daryl), but Rick has clearly decided it's time to stop worrying about decency and start surviving.

OK, the questions. When I saw Morgan, I think I made roughly the same sound teenage and preteen girls would make if they thought One Direction (are they still popular with preteen girls? I'm getting old) were dead and then walked into their classroom to perform a private concert. For starters, Lennie James is one of the best actors to appear on the show, so he automatically increases the quality of performance. Additionally, his character is amazing. He's the only guy who has, as far as I can tell, spent time clearing out walkers. Why is no one else doing this? Do they not realize that it's a finite number they're dealing with? Why ever, ever, leave on alive when it might be part of a group later? Think, people!

Anyway, Beth... well, I have a few theories on her but none of them make sense. Until further notified I'm going to assume she's found Hershel, who is somehow still alive, and is living quite happily on an island. I want to live in a world where Hershel is alive. All right, back to football. We'll make the transition easier with a blended question.

It's not an easy road, frankly. Being 2-4 and looking up at a 6-1 division leader is a mountain that is almost impossible to climb. And it's not like Denver is going anywhere; barring a Manning injury, they're absolutely making the playoffs. So you've basically got one wild card spot, and you're contending with an AFC North that's looked good (even Cleveland, though that can't last... right?). It's not promising.

On the plus side, after the Chargers game is a pretty winnable stretch; Rams, Jets, and Bills (though I always hate seeing the Bills on out schedule). Of course, there's still Seattle, Denver, San Diego, and Arizona left to contend with. Yikes.

Basically, a loss puts the Chiefs in the position where they need to win every "winnable" game against mediocre and average teams AND pull off upsets against two good teams out of four. And even then, that puts you at 10-6. That's no guarantee in the NFL, especially if the Chiefs can't beat the Chargers or Broncos.

In other words, while this isn't an absolute MUST-win, it's getting pretty close. That ridiculous loss to the Titans and giving away the Niners game is going to come back to haunt the team this year, I'm afraid.

Now, a win on the other hand... the Chiefs would be a 3-3 team, but one in the driver's seat to get to 6-3 prior to facing a suddenly-not-so-immortal Seahawks team that isn't often as good on the road. At Arrowhead. Against a team whose fanbase we've come to despise. Tell me the Arrowhead crowd isn't going to try to re-up its own record just to shove it in their coffee-chugging faces.

But yeah, first things first. Sunday is about as close to a must-win as you can get.

I've been meaning to address this as of late. Seriously, this gigantic swing in favor of offensive players when it comes to penalties has absolutely got to stop. It's bad for America. And the children.

I mean, sure, you can justify it by saying that a late hit by a defender is more likely to incur injury, but is that even true? As a guy who has put absolutely no research into this issue at all (which shouldn't matter, right?) I'm going to say that it sounds like a load of BS to me.

We've got quarterbacks flopping (Tom Brady) and going fetal like a... well a fetus (Peyton Manning) when defenders are even breathing on them. Seriously. Going fetal on the football field should be an automatic turnover from here on out, as should falling over like you've been tased when a defender touches you. Quarterbacks are football players too, and this crap is getting old. Say what you will about Alex Smith (and there's plenty of reasons to say plenty of things), but at least he's not a pansy out there.

Also, while on the subject of takes that grind my gears, this whole "Thursday Night Football games are sloppier and more prone to blowouts" talk that has circulated throughout the media this season needs to stop. I get that we don't like TNF games for reasons of player safety. Fair enough. But that's no reason to invent crap. And that's exactly what people who claim TNF games are more sloppy or blowout-friendly are doing.

The claims aren't based on math (h/t Bill Barnewell, who proves it here and here) or any actual evidence. It's just a ridiculous myth that's gotten perpetuated because... well, I don't know why. The fact is that TNF games, statistically, aren't any more sloppy or prone to blowouts than MNF games.

There are plenty of reasons to hate on Thursday Night Football. Blowouts aren't one of them.

We're wrapping it up a tad early this week, as I'm prepping for a weekend trip to chaperone a bunch of teenagers at a weekend retreat and need to spend the next few hours doing breathing exercises to prepare. Go Chiefs, go Royals, and we'll do this again soon.