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Arrowheadlines: Kansas City Chiefs News 12/18

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Goooood morning! I start my Christmas vacation tomorrow and will be hit and miss on posting. As always, Joel will be picking up my slack and keep the news flowing on the days I'm traveling or computer-less. Here's your Kansas City Chiefs news. Enjoy!

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

12/17 Practice Recap: Two Chiefs Starters Sent Home with Flu from The Mothership

The flu bug has hit the Kansas City Chiefs.

"We've got two guys who have the flu," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. "Dwayne Bowe and Jaye Howard. So we sent them home and got them out of here."

Chiefs QB Alex Smith Says to "Embrace the Situation" from The Mothership

As the Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) prepare for their biggest game of the season on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5), quarterback Alex Smith's message to the team is simple.

"I've been around long enough," Smith said on Wednesday. "Enjoy these situations and embrace them. This time of year, a December game [in Pittsburgh] with a little weather involved, embrace that situation. These opportunities don't come around very often.

"You've been working hard to put yourself in this position. You wanted the stages to be more meaningful and here we are. You still have life and you're still in it. The games just get bigger and bigger."

Chiefs CB Jamell Fleming Takes Advantage of Opportunity from The Mothership

The Raiders had captured a bit of momentum after a missed Chiefs field goal and it was Fleming's play on third down, combined with a nice blitz call by defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and subsequent execution by the rest of Fleming's defensive teammates that made the play happen.

"I thought he did well," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Fleming's performance on Sunday. "I thought he played strong and attacked the ball. He was aggressive with the ball in the air. It looked like he was transitioning out of his breaks pretty good.

"He had a couple of nice tackles, had a physical one right there in the end where he picked the guy up and put him down and disallowed a couple of first downs on third-down tackles which was good."

Chiefs De'Anthony Thomas Named AFC Special Teams POW from The Mothership

It was Thomas' 81-yard punt return for a touchdown, which was the 12th-longest return in franchise history, that got the scoring started for the Chiefs on the way to their 31-13 victory.

Thomas had eight punt returns on the day that totaled 156 yards, which sits as the second-best performance in franchise history (Dexter McCluster - 2013).

Andy Reid Press Conference 12/17 from The Mothership

Q: How do you get your guys to keep playing at a playoff level every week now?

REID: "Well, I don't think you focus on that. You focus on the things we've talked about each week and that's: study the opponent, you always respect the opponent, you study the opponent and then you make sure that you study the scheme that you've been delivered by the coaches. Then you let your personality show within that. That part doesn't change and you're always going to bring great intensity to every game. That's what you strive to do and you strive to do that consistently. That won't be any different this week in how we approach things."

Tamba Hali Nominated for NFL's Man of the Year from The Mothership

Off of the field, Hali is just as unyielding when it comes to assisting others. That mindset was instilled during his childhood. Hali's homeland of Liberia trudged through a bloody civil war for most of his adolescence. So, at the age of 10 he left Africa to live with his father, Henry, who had earlier fled to America. Yet, the shy Hali never forgot his roots.

"I am a Liberian; I spent about ten years in Liberia," Hali noted. "I've been blessed to live in this country, to have an education and play this wonderful sport."

This October, he joined with Heart to Heart International, a global humanitarian aid organization, to announce the construction of a 70-bed Ebola treatment unit in Africa for those stricken by the disease. Hali personally donated $50,000, which financed more than half of the project. He's also using his star status to spread the word about this dire need.

Pittsburgh Steelers: A Closer Look from The Mothership

The Kansas City Chiefs face the NFL's top-ranked offense on Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have averaged 424.9 yards per game this season.

"They have both the run and the pass game going," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of the Steelers this season. "[Roethlisberger] is playing well and the runners are playing well. They've got a nice little combination going."

Ben Roethlisberger is currently No. 2 in the NFL with 4,415 passing yards this season, completing 67 percent of his passes with 29 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.

The Chiefs without Lamar Hunt from The Mothership

The memos from the offices of Unity Hunt no longer flow daily from Dallas to Kansas City, and neither do the owner's late night phone calls to staff for reports and updates on sales, or offers on how he might help where he can.

Still, many of the procedures and ideas Lamar Hunt put in play early on, like the Red Coaters, continue to exist, and ownership's traditional walk-around the parking lot on game day remains standard procedure for Clark Hunt, the Hunt family's chairman of the board, who now spends much of his time in Kansas City traveling from Dallas every week.  The NFL is very much a family endeavor and the son and his siblings remain true to the ideals set forth by the father.

Winning cures many ills, if just for the moment. With the selection of a new coach in Andy Reid, who in his own way brings an established and successful reputation much as Marty Schottenheimer did when he came to Kansas City near the start of the ‘90s, the Hunt family is very much in step with what its paternal head tried to do long ago when he set about trying to acquire an established coach with a resume after Hank Stram left.

KCChiefs.com Podcast: Chiefs Download 12/18

KCChiefs.com Video: Twitter Q&A: De'Anthony Thomas

KCChiefs.com Video: Opponent Preview: Examining the Steelers

KCChiefs.com Video: Arrowhead Update 12/17: Steelers Potent Offense

KCChiefs.com Video: Reid and Chiefs Focused on Pittsburgh

KCChiefs.com Video: Chiefs Brief: Houston's Dominance Continues

KCChiefs.com Video: Community Visit: Children's Center Campus

KCChiefs.com Video: Locker Room Sounds 12/17

Week 16: Wednesday injury report from Chiefs Digest

Tight end Anthony Fasano (knee) also didn't practice, but Reid didn't appear concerned on Fasano's availability for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It's precautionary measures and we will keep it rolling here," Reid said.

The Chiefs list running back Jamaal Charles (knee, ankle), outside linebacker Tamba Hali (knee) and inside linebacker Joe Mays (knee) as limited participants.

Chiefs center Hudson is getting noticed -- for all the right reasons from FS Kansas City

You notice 61, in a good way. There's Rodney Hudson, out in space on a screen, swallowing up some unsuspecting defensive back so Jamaal Charles can slip through. There's Rodney Hudson, dancing in the pocket, keeping his man in front, giving Alex Smith a clean throwing lane. There's Rodney Hudson, on the bench, pulling rookie guard Zach Fulton aside, trying to help keep the kid's head from spinning off.

"In sports in general, especially as an offensive lineman, sometimes it's hard to get noticed," the Kansas City Chiefs' center tells FOXSportsKansasCity.com. "I think it's definitely a good thing to get noticed. And it's definitely something you can appreciate when you're just, day after day, doing your job."

And just picture where they'd be without him. Or don't.

Chiefs are aware they're already in playoff mode from ESPN

The Chiefs at this time last year were 11-3 and had clinched a playoff spot. They were playing for playoff seeding and, after losing in Week 16 to the Indianapolis Colts, they had a meaningless final game against the San Diego Chargers.

So this role is new to the Chiefs since last year's arrival of coach Andy Reid.

Steelers Notebook: Chiefs defense stellar in red zone from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The team that stands between the Steelers and a playoff berth Sunday has not allowed 30 points in a game this season. When the Kansas City Chiefs visit Heinz Field they will be counting on their highly rated defense to keep the NFL's top-rated offense in check.

The Steelers lead the NFL in total offense (424.9 yards per game) and are sixth in the league in scoring (27.8 points per game). The Chiefs are No. 1 in red-zone defense, No. 4 in scoring defense (18.1 ppg) and No. 8 in total defense (331.8 ypg).

"You have a couple of No. 1s going against each other, so that's a good thing," Kansas City coach Andy Reid said.

A skeptic might say the Steelers have accumulated their gaudy statistics against the league's defensive doormats, and they would have a point.

KC defense faces challenge against Steelers from The Associated Press via The Springfield News-Leader

Then there is Bell, an emerging star the Chiefs must account for out of the backfield.

While Kansas City held the Oakland Raiders to 79 yards rushing in Week 15, the Chiefs were hurt in Weeks 11 to 14 with a total of 738 yards rushing allowed.

Bell ranks second in the league in rushing with 1,278 yards and the former Michigan State star is a good receiver out of the backfield with 76 catches for 765 yards.

Bell's 2,043 yards from scrimmage rank second in the NFL and set a single-season team record.

Fail to the Chiefs? Steelers secondary ready for K.C. from TimesOnline

Over the season's first 14 games, only four other teams have surrendered more touchdown passes than the 28 the Steelers have conceded. But if recent trends continue, that number should remain 28 after the Steelers host Kansas City on Sunday.

At least that's the hope.

Enter the Chiefs, who hold the dubious distinction of being the only team in NFL history to have zero touchdowns from a wide receiver through 14 games. Just for a little perspective: Antonio Brown, alone, has 11  more than the Chiefs.

Report: Football Hall of Famer Bobby Bell to graduate college, 52 years later from FS Kansas city

Bobby Bell is joining the ranks of college graduates.

What's the big deal, one might wonder? The former linebacker of the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs --€“ No. 78 was a force --€“ and member of the college and pro football halls of fame will soon have a diploma, too ... 52 years after leaving the University of Minnesota.

With some assistance and guidance from the school, Bell, 74, will pick up his diploma with fellow students in May, reports the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.

"Once I got my feet wet, I said 'this is like playing in the Super Bowl,' " Bell told the paper. "I'm going all the way. I'm going to win this thing. I'm going to do my best job. Whatever it takes, I'm going to do it."

Running back Le'Veon Bell gives Steelers throwback style from USA Today

With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suggesting Bell belongs in the MVP conversation, Bell has emerged as a difference-maker for the Steelers.

"It's humbling, a great compliment to have Ben mention me for MVP," Bell said.

The Steelers can clinch a playoff spot Sunday with a win against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bell's versatility will be critical to keeping a Chiefs defense headlined by linebacker Justin Houston's 17 sacks off balance.

"We have to keep Ben upright in this football game if we are going to have the chance to have the type of day that we need to have," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

Fantasy football: Think about Dwayne Allen from the Indianapolis Star

QB Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs: There aren't many times during a fantasy season to be excited about Smith, but this is one of them. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a Chiefs wideout might even catch a touchdown pass for the first time in more than a year.

Dan Kohn's Week 16 NFL predictions from The Appleton Post-Gazette

Kansas City at Pittsburgh: The Chiefs righted the ship last week against Oakland, snapping a three-game losing streak. It still may be too late, especially against a Steelers team that has won six of eight and have sights set on the AFC North crown. Steelers 22, Chiefs 20.

QB Smith is chief concern for Steelers' defense from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"We have to make sure we keep Smith in the pocket. Smith is a great athlete, and he makes a lot of plays with his legs. It's enough trying to stop Jamaal Charles, so Smith is a dangerous option.

"When Smith is in that zone-read option, he's legal to be hit. But he's an added dimension and a big headache for the defense. We have to be disciplined in our rush lanes."

So far, the Steelers have had relatively good success defending fast, mobile quarterbacks this season. They have allowed quarterbacks to rush for only 127 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown run by Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in a 42-21 win at Cincinnati two weeks ago.

Week 16 NFL picks: Wilson and Seahawks catch Cardinals, Broncos rush past Bengals from Sporting News

Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS). There's a growing consensus that the AFC North, which the Bengals still lead, is the Steelers' to lose. They do host the Bengals in the season finale next week. They have to get through the Chiefs first, though, and the Chiefs are in win-or-go-home mode. It's a matter of trusting Ben Roethlisberger or Alex Smith in this spot. Well ... Steelers 26, Chiefs 17

J.J. Watt leads list of top 10 defensive players from NFL.com

2. Justin Houston, Chiefs linebacker: Tied for the NFL lead with 17 sacks, Houston is averaging more than one per game going back to the start of the 2013 season. Watt is the only player with more total sacks, hits and hurries than Houston's 77 this season. He carries Kansas City's defense in the same way that Jamaal Charles shoulders the offense.

The Most Important NFL Games Remaining from CBS Connecticut

Kansas City @ Pittsburgh: If the season ended today, the Steelers and Ravens would be the two wildcard teams out of the AFC, with each being 9-5. Sitting right behind them are the 8-6 Chiefs, who are tied for seventh in the conference with San Diego and Buffalo. With a victory Sunday the Steelers clinch a playoff berth, but if the Chiefs win they takes themselves, along with Buffalo and San Diego, off life support. This game will determine if two or three teams play for their lives in Week 17, versus five or six doing so.

Tough Road to Playoffs Facing KC | Kansas City Chiefs' Truths from ProFootballSpot

Alex Smith may not be a threat to throw deep, but he has acceptable range for a QB in the Reid offense. More importantly, he has shown he is capable of the longer intermediate throws of 25-40 yards. His long passes to Albert Wilson and Dwayne Bowe versus Oakland were prime examples.

The pass traveled 49 yards in the air and went for a 48-yard gain. The truth is that this pass was at the limit of Smith's range and was in fact underthrown to the point that Albert had to slow to make the catch. If Smith had hit Wilson in stride, the play would have gone for six points.

Conversely, Smith's strike to Bowe in the same quarter was tight and had a lot of velocity. It traveled 25 yards in the air and hit Bowe in stride. At that distance, Bowe was able to run for 20 yards after the catch. Although it wasn't a "deep pass", passing for chunks of yards like this is a key to the post-season for the Kansas City Chiefs.

De'Anthony Thomas garners AFC special teams player of the week honors from ProFootballTalk

On the score, Thomas caught the ball around the numbers nearest the Kansas City sideline. He made one cut, burst through an alley near the boundary and sprinted clear. Thomas was never touched en route to his first regular-season return touchdown, a testament to his speed and some outstanding blocking, with safety Daniel Sorensen and wide receiver Junior Hemingway among those doing their jobs very well. Thomas punctuated the score by flipping into the endzone, and oh, to be 21 years old and of world-class fitness.