On Sunday, I'll be at Arrowhead Stadium watching the Chiefs host the Seahawks.
Wait, let me start over.
ON SUNDAY I'LL BE AT ARROWHEAD STADIUM WATCHING THE CHIEFS HOST THE SEAHAWKS!!!!!
That's better. It's a much more accurate way of expressing my inner feelings.
By the time this is published I may well be on the road to Kansas City. I have no idea how the arraignments I have to cover tomorrow morning (this is being written on Thursday evening) are going to go. I can't concentrate. There's a good chance it's going to just be a travesty tomorrow.
Defendant: I know this is my fifth offense in the last three months, but can't you just dismiss it? I'm really sorry.
Me: Hmmmm? Uh ... oh, right. Well, um ... will that get you out of here faster? I mean, if it'll get you out of here faster and you pinky swear to never, ever do it again, I don't see why not. Have a great Chiefs ... er ... day!
Seriously, it's going to be enough to make someone lose faith in the criminal justice system.
(For those with no sense of humor; I take my job very seriously. It's a joke. Kind of)
Anyway, the point is I'm in no kind of emotional state to write anything resembling a rational, informative article. With that in mind, there are two completely irrational, non-informative things I can bring you.
That's right, it's happening. A mailbag / power rankings column. Stock up on food and ammo, the apocalypse is surely almost upon us, with such an unholy union. But who cares? I'm coming to Arrowhead, people!
Let's start with the mailbag and finish with the power rankings. For those of you who don't remember, I don't rank things the way normal
sane people do. I rank things that have nothing in common and my rankings don't really add up. In other words, they aren't of any use whatsoever as an objective ranking of anything. In that sense, they very much resemble every other power ranking.
Let's go. Every word I type is one word closer to Kansas City (no, that makes no sense. Again, I'm really excited)
@RealMNchiefsfan Based on your observations, is the KC passing game limited more due to Alex Smith or the offensive line play? #Chiefs— William Barnett (@WhiskeyBravo85) November 11, 2014
Whoo boy, starting with a humdinger (I talk like a 90-year-old redneck when I'm excited, sorry). My answer to that question is ... yes. And no.
I believe the Chiefs passing game has been "limited" (in that we don't go deep often at all compared to many other NFL teams) for multiple reasons. I have no idea what order of importance these reasons are in, but I think they're all a factor.
- Andy Reid's offense isn't traditionally super-vertical.
- The wide receivers the Chiefs have (without Donnie Avery in) are just not the type of guys to get over the top of a defense. Dwayne Bowe has been way better recently, but he's never going to be a deep threat.
- The best playmakers on the offense (Bowe, Jamaal Charles, and Travis Kelce) are shallow-and-intermediate threats who are monsters after the catch.
- Our offensive line hasn't shown anything like the type of protection (at least consistently) to stretch the field in five or seven step drops.
- Alex Smith was missing deep throws (over and under throwing them) early in the year.
Again, I don't think any one of those factors is all-encompassing. Nor do I think the offense will continue to ignore the deep ball quite as much as it has early in the season (Smith has gradually started taking a shot or two down the field as of late, and that's without Avery). But for right now, I think it's just a combination of things.
That said, the Bills were starting to stack the line of scrimmage, and other teams will follow suit. You can stretch a defense horizontally (and Reid has done that beautifully this year), but shots down the field will become more necessary as time goes by.
Who is the biggest threat to the Chiefs making the playoffs? In other words, what teams should I root against the hardest this season?
Well, first and foremost, you should always root against the Broncos the hardest. Always. Without exception. Well, except MAYBE if they're playing the Raiders and there are negative implications for the Chiefs in a Raiders win. But besides that, it's always the Broncos.
What's more, the Broncos are the biggest obstacle between the Chiefs and the playoffs. The Chiefs can beat them and make things extremely uncomfortable for them with tiebreakers (plus, Denver has a tougher schedule down the stretch in this guy's opinion), and the simplest way to make it to the playoffs is to just win your division outright (I'm really hitting hard with the analysis there, i know).
But if you assume Denver will go 14-2 or 13-3 and win the AFC West, what teams should be feared? Well, as has been well-publicized this season, the AFC is a MESS. There's a legitimate chance an 11-5 team misses the playoffs this season. Miami, Buffalo, San Diego, and the entire AFC North are above .500. Yikes.
That said, not all of these teams scare me. The Chargers are in a tailspin, and Rivers isn't playing like a demigod anymore to cover all their flaws. Miami's offensive line is terrible, and even worse without Branden Albert. Also, their vaunted defense has become more than a tad overrated. They basically had one dominant game against a team that's a mess (the aforementioned Chargers). Um... yay? They also got blown out by Buffalo and lost by 19 to a Chiefs team without Jamaal Charles.
Speaking of Buffalo ... man, that front four alone is almost scary enough to make me think they'll make a run. And Kyle Orton is just competent enough to get the ball to Sammy Watkins along with a bruising running game. I'd say keep half an eye on them. Plus, I'd just as soon not see them in the playoffs.
I'm not worried about the Bengals. Andy Dalton is what he is, and he'll torpedo his team as often as play well. The Steelers were a "hot" team... until getting beat soundly by the J-E-T-S. Of the two AFC North teams, the Browns or the Ravens are the only two I see as potential 11-win teams (I can't believe I just said that about the Browns).
From my angle, I'd root for the Ravens, Browns, and Bills to rack up some losses. The other teams (I think) will choke their way out down the stretch without your bad juju sent their way.
(Note: this was written prior to the Dolphins/Bills game. I may have jinxed you, Buffalo. Sorry about that! ... Update by Joel: Yes, you jinxed them.)
@RealMNchiefsfan So how close is Kush? I know Stephenson will be back, first opportunity. But Kush? Anything you know?— Dai-Chiefsfansince63 (@dai_sca) November 14, 2014
No. Sorry. All I know is that despite a certain guard not doing anything but getting beat like he stole something, Eric Kush remains on the bench. If Reid were going to switch things up by now it would have happened. At least, I think so. I don't think Kush will be the savior of the interior line.
@RealMNchiefsfan missed your request. sorry. Add something on why Stephenson is not earning his way back. What do you know?— Dai-Chiefsfansince63 (@dai_sca) November 13, 2014
I know nothing except what I see. And what I see is that Donald Stephenson remains on the bench after nine games. I have no idea if Stephenson is injured (he's seen the odd snap here and there, so I doubt that's the case), but clearly Reid is more comfortable moving forward with Ryan Harris. And Harris is ... well, he's decent enough most of the time.
When you can't beat out "decent enough most of the time," that doesn't bode well for your future. That said, Stephenson is signed through 2015 for an extremely cheap contract, so I don't see him as a guy who gets cut. It IS a very odd situation, though. Prior to the suspension Stephenson was the unquestioned starter. Ryan Harris comes in off the street as a seat-warmer ... and then never goes away.
I don't think Reid is the type to be punishing a guy for a suspension (Hi Dwayne Bowe, taker of many snaps). So one has to assume Reid believes Harris gives the team a better chance to win than Stephenson. And no, I don't think he's going to guard. Per Terez Paylor, he isn't practicing on the interior at all. That's a fans pipe dream.
No, I think what the Chiefs have on the o-line is what we're going to be rolling with for the duration of the season, which leads me to...
@RealMNchiefsfan how would you rank our O-line after playing the Bills stacked DL— Original QB Killa (@chiefs5558) November 13, 2014
Well, I'm of two minds on this. One mind says the offensive line has had some decent games against some tough defensive fronts. My other mind says that what the Bills defensive line did to the Chiefs OL on Sunday shouldn't be played even on cable television, let alone the main networks. It was borderline obscene out there.
That said, the defensive front of the Bills is REALLY good. Like, really, really good. I'm not sure there's a defensive front four in the NFL that presents a scarier group than what those guys are. They're what everyone thought the Rams would be (and are turning into) heading into the season, only Marell Dareus and Mario Williams are the size of trucks.
It was an awful, awful game ... for most of our offensive line. Want a teeny, tiny glimpse of something positive? Eric Fisher, upon review, had a pretty decent day. He was victimized by playing next to a guy in the midst of one of the worst days I've seen a LG have (which has a domino effect on the whole line, really), but he was decent. Progress!
As far as the Chiefs line goes, I'm not going to let one terrible game against what is probably the best pass-rushing front four we'll see all year change my opinion too much. The line is below average, but not nearly as bad as it looked Sunday. Most days, Reid's scheme and Smith's legs will keep it from hurting that much. I think we'll see more and more quick throws against good defenses. Hopefully the receivers (and tight ends, and RB's) can hold up their end of things, as well as Smith.
This next bunch isn't really a mailbag question and answer, but I enjoyed the exchange too much to leave it out.
@RealMNchiefsfan tacos: great food or greatest food?— Dan Wylam (@here4thesports) November 14, 2014
@here4thesports confession; I hate tacos.— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) November 14, 2014
@RealMNchiefsfan you're objectively wrong about tacos.— Dan Wylam (@here4thesports) November 14, 2014
That response. I enjoyed it. And was thoroughly defeated in that particular debate.
Additionally, am I THAT alone on tacos? Really? I'm just not a fan of the flavor of the sauces. Who's with me??? Guys?
@RealMNchiefsfan wife hates the cold. You love the Chiefs and Kansas City it seems. What's preventing the move south?— Christian Loganbill (@cloganbill) November 14, 2014
Honestly, I'd love to move to KC. I'm that much of a Chiefs fanatic that it's a major pull, there are jobs to be had in the legal market (or so I've heard), and we've got some friends we'd love to be closer to. That and the food. The FOOD.
That said, can't do it. We've got family up here, I gotta job (seriously, who's going to make the donation necessary for Joel to put me on full time. I nominate upamtn), and most importantly ... I hate humidity.
I mean HATE it. With a passion that burns like a million suns. I spent three years of my life in Missouri, and every August I thought I was going to suffocate. And that was as a kid. I can't imagine how I'd feel now that I've added several, um, layers.
Can't do it. At least not until that six-figure job covering the Chiefs opens up. I assume the Star will call any day now.
@RealMNchiefsfan 1st stop when u get into town is where????— Countryboi567 (@Countryboi567) November 13, 2014
First stop will be the hotel. Second stop ... well, there's some debate about that.
Here's the deal ... I've been thinking about another Z-man since we left KC. That said, Mrs. MNchiefsfan and I haven't tried any of the other top-of-the-line BBQ joints down there. We could MAYBE be persuaded to go somewhere else if there were a strong enough recommendation (and ordering advice).
All these personal questions are a great segue into my power rankings. Think of these as the top 10 of, oh, a thousand other things. These are the best of the best in meaningless ranking with no real standard for why they're ranked somewhere. The best what?
Power Rankings; MNchiefsfan and Mrs. MNchiefsfan's Trip To KC
10) The inevitability of the nap Mrs. MNchiefsfan will take during the eight hour drive south. She'll say she's not going to sleep. Then she will sleep. She will somehow manage to do this during the only two-hour stretch where there's not a decent radio station to be found. I would bet my only daughter on this happening in exactly this manner.
9) Road trip snacks. For some reason, when you're an adult, it's not "mature" or "socially acceptable" to eat your weight in stuff you can buy at a gas station. This is a travesty, as most of our best food comes in colorful bags and has quadruple the weekly sugar / salt intake recommendations for an adult. Road trips are an exception, and a wonderful one. I will eat all the Peanut Butter M&M's.
8) Arrowhead Stadium live. It's incredible. I'm so, so excited.
7) The Winter. I need to apologize to all of Kansas City for bringing Minnesota November south with me. We can't buy time away from the snow, apparently. On the plus side, it's supposed to be between 25 and 30 degrees on Sunday. That's pretty decent-to-OK for Minnesota November. Count yourselves lucky I didn't bring Minnesota January. You'd actually die.
6) A hotel room without kids. Only parents will understand what a wonderful experience it's going to be for Mrs. MNchiefsfan and I to lay on a bed and watch TV. Alone. Those of you without kids ... they're the best. They are. But enjoy your time alone.
5) The chances of a witnessing my first live win. I was at the infamous "We are not gladiators" game in 2012 (eternal h/t to my host, JComp). I was at the incredibly anomalous dumpster fire game in Week 1 against the Titans. I'm 0-2, guys. But I feel good about this game, like I haven't since prior to the Patriot massacre on Monday Night Football. Of course, if Jamaal Charles gets hurt Sunday I assume I'm not making it out of Arrowhead alive.
4) Jamaal Charles. Because Jamaal Charles is in the top five of every power ranking, or it's a stupid power ranking. I have an unhealthy amount of affection for Jamaal Charles.
3) The chance to take a nap. Like, in the afternoon. Again, people without kids, you have no idea what I"m talking about.
2) The chance to eat KC BBQ again. Crap, I'm excited. And if there's something besides a Z-man (or two. I think I'm going with two this time) that you think would make me and the Mrs.'s evening, let me know.
1) Spending a weekend with this woman, who set up this whole trip as a surprise for me to celebrate our seven-year anniversary and (on our last trip) referred to the Chiefs as "we."
Do I show pictures of her to feel better about myself for marrying such a raging hottie?
Yes, yes I do.
Go Chiefs. I'll be doing some live-tweeting of the trip if you're into that kind of thing (@RealMNchiefsfan). Should be a blast. If you see me there, give me a shout.
Oh, and one more thing ... Sunday is our chance to make the Seahawks think to themselves, "Wow, I thought our stadium was loud."
Let's not miss that opportunity. I won't have a voice Monday. And neither should you.