The Kansas City Chiefs are a good football team.
That's what all my gigabytes keep coming back to. The more we see the Chiefs perform at this level, and the further removed we get from The Red Wedding of Week 1, the more this magic eye poster of a season comes into focus.
The Chiefs have clawed their way back to .500 against a schedule more brutal than Ben Affleck's marriage in Gone Girl. The Super Bowl favorite Broncos. The 49ers, who have appeared in three straight NFC Championship games. The chic pick of 2014, the San Diego Chargers. ALL ON THE ROAD! And the Chiefs had the ball, with a chance to win, at the end of each game.
These are the toughest games the NFL has to offer. For proof, lets check ESPN.com and their 14 master prognosticators' NFL picks. They all picked the Donkeys. All but one picked San Fran. And all but one picked San Diego (the hurricane's name...is Coach Ditka). Hell, only two picked KC over Miami.
In fairness, the Chiefs did lose two of those games. The point being, they had every chance to win them, when nobody gave them much of a chance. And really, I've learned more about this team in their defeats than I have in their victories this season.
Now come the games where the Chiefs will be expected to win: Rams, Jets, at Bills. Six of their final 10 at home. I'm a big believer in the moral victories accumulated so far this year, but they won't mean diddly...poo if they don't handle their business in these contests.
And lets face it, the Chiefs have played to the level of their competition so far this season. Their best against the best. Their worst against the worst. I mean ... they're writing this for me, man.
The Best & Worst w/ His Dirkness:
Best transformation - The Chiefense, from 2013 to 2014. Quarterbacked by the mad scientist, Bob Sutton, who's really not so mad anymore. He's actually rather serene. Or at least, his defense is. Gone are the exotic blitz schemes. Gone are the big passing plays over the top. Gone are the abundance of takeaways. And frankly, I love it. Sutton is allowing this defense to play more to its strengths. Instead of rushing six or seven from all angles and relying on the defense's back half, the team is dropping seven into coverage and relying on its front four to do the heavy lifting. It's best to rely on your strengths. This defense, and this team's, strength is their ability to harass the quarterback with their front four. And they're doing so with a much more relaxed defensive scheme. Very chill. And really hungry. Hmmm, perhaps Puff Puff Pass Rush has finally found its way to HeisenBob.
Best player on the field, defense - Josh Mauga. I say this very reluctantly, with Fiddy Sack lining up only a few feet away from him, but what a game for the former
nWo Wolfpack player. He was everywhere. And to find a replacement DJ, for an affordable price, on such short notice. What a steal!
Best player on the field, offense - Rodney Hudson. Again, with reluctance, given the Kansas City Chiefs' all-time leading rusher in the backfield, but this ain't The Second Best And The Second Worst w/ His Dirkness, damnit! And Hudson deserves some praise for the strides he's made since last season. It's rare to see a center routinely paving the way on screen passes, but that's exactly what Hudson was doing yesterday.
Worst player on the field, forever and always - Mike McGlynn. The experiment is over. If the plan is to stick with Ryan Harris over Donald Stephenson at RT, a decision that shocked me yesterday, then lets give Don Wayne a shot at playing left guard. Or Kush. Or Larry. Or Cairo Freakin' Santos. Give me anybody.
Best moment of Cairo Santos' life - This. Right here.
If you watch that and don't get the chilly willies, then you're doing it wrong. Another thing: There's been a lot of news this week, from the multiple fights involving Percy Harvin in Seattle, to Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler getting into it after their loss yesterday. And then I look at this group of guys. And they seem to genuinely like one another. They love their coach. They love their kicker, who most of us had dragged to the curb late one Sunday night. And it really gives me hope that the Chiefs are, in fact, building something special.
Best journalistic achievement - Play-by-play man, Spero Dedes, proclaiming that Cairo Santos' 28-yard field goal was indeed "long enough."
Worst "target yard line" for a kicker I've ever seen - The 27. Hey, CBS, you like apples?
Best bye week coach ever - Andy Reid. Quite literally. No other coach can match Big Red's now 14 victories coming off of a bye, which has only existed since 1990, oddly enough (which means as recently as 1989, teams played 16 weeks straight through). So what makes him so gosh darn successful in these games? Well wouldn't you know it, the doggone running game. In those 16 contests, Andy has averaged 32 runs and 28 pass attempts per game. Yesterday, Andy dialed up 22 runs and 10 passes in the first half. Given those stats, and how the team has fared this season, I think I'm to the point where I'd pay a guy to sit on the sideline and just hold up a "Run the ball, Andy" sign. Just as a friendly reminder every week.
Worst error - Challenging the spot on the Chargers' 3rd and 14 conversion early in the fourth quarter. It seemed like a move made out of frustration for giving up the 3rd and long. And spot challenges are always hard to overturn.
Best ass chewing - Andy Reid, after the bogus PI call on Jamell Fleming late in the game. The refs earned as much yesterday. Just a hellacious call, and not their only one of the day. In no particular order: Holding on Ron Parker (non-existent), the first PI on Fleming (uncatchable), and the offensive PI on Fasano (uhh, what?). I will say that Andy handled himself better than I did. I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU, ALEX!
Best make up call - The facemask on the Chiefs' final drive. Looked pretty weak to me, and it helped the Chiefs big time. Talk about getting the last
F-bomb tirade laugh.
Best play of the game - 4th quarter, 1:35, Chiefs ball, 2nd and 15 on their own 27 yard line.
Alex Smith finds an open Dwayne Bowe while rolling to his left. Really great. This was the biggest play of the game according to the win probably chart, and understandably so. KC would've been looking at 3rd and 15 with an incompletion, most likely about to punt back to San Diego, who had all three timeouts. This was huge for Alex, who fell short in nearly identical situations in both Denver and San Francisco.
Worst play of the game - Junior Hemingway's drop. A 10-14 point swing in the game right there. Inexcusable.
Worst public prognostication - I predicted the Chiefs would lose yesterday for one reason, and one reason only: Phillip Gaines. I just thought Rivers would pick apart the rookie, who left a lot to be desired in the preseason. But that wasn't the case at all. He was great. In fact, he was good enough, that I'd consider starting him on the outside (once Chris Owens returns) over Jamell Fleming, who fared okay in his surprise start over Marcus Cooper yesterday.
Best question about De'Anthony Thomas - Can he succeed on plays not designed for him? In other words, can he be a regular piece of this offense, or does his potential max out as a specialist with five or so plays scripted for him each week? We know he's electric. I'm confident he'll be a good returner. If he can develop as either a RB or a WR, a big if, the Chiefs may have found the steal of the draft.
Best bar room Chiefs debate - Priest Holmes or Jamaal Charles? The top two rushers in Kansas City history (Luckily, there's no bronze medal on this podium). Priest did it with patience and magnets for the end zone running through his veins. Jamaal is like a shaken up can of Surge, ready to burst for 80 yards at a moment's notice. Who's better? I'd say Jamaal, given the differences in OL. Who'd you like more? Well, Priest is my favorite Chief of all time. So who ya got?
Hey! Check out our postgame Show from last night...
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