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Kansas City Chiefs best and worst surprise players for the 2014 season

MNChiefsfan is back with his semi-regular mailbag about the KC Chiefs and other topics.

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Hey, did you hear that the NFL Top 100 list is out and people are mad? I heard. My friends heard. My WIFE heard. And let me tell you, when my wife hears about a sports-related story that means way, way, way too many people are talking about it. Since I want to be in on the fun...

It's outrageous that Dontari Poe isn't in the top 100. The man is a nose tackle who takes more snaps than any other defensive lineman, constantly draws double (and triple teams), creates an impassable wall against the run, and can get after the passer. Do you REALLY think there are more than, say, 4-5 other guys in the NFL who can do EVERYTHING Poe does. I don't. Anger. Outrage. All the yelling!

Am I doing it right?

In all honesty, I don't care about whether the list is "accurate." This is for entertainment. I'm just grateful people are passionate enough about football to pay attention to such things, or I'd be out of a job (is this a job? I like calling it a job. Makes me feel professional. "I'm a sportswriter, bow before me" and whatnot).

Anyway, since last I checked it's still the offseason, let's knock a couple of mailbag questions out of the way. I'm still trying to stick with just a few, so if yours isn't in here don't despair. It may well come up next time. Or your question sucked. It's definitely one of the two.

(Send questions to or tweet to @RealMNchiefsfan. The quest to a thousand followers continues! Validate my existence!)

It's outrageous that Dontari Poe isn't in the top 100. The man is a nose tackle who takes more snaps than any other defensive lineman, constantly draws double (and triple teams), creates an impassable wall against the run, and can get after the passer.

Also, before I begin, I just wanted to make a special mention of BJ Kissel, who was recently named the new Chiefs reporter.  I know AP wrote a whole post congratulating the guy, but I wanted to throw in a couple thoughts:

1) How BJ managed to ascend this far without going off on 500-word tangents I'll never know. I think he has naked pictures of SOMEONE, I just don't know WHO. I will find out the truth

2)  BJ Kissel is one of the hardest working, nicest, and most talented sports journalists I've gotten to know. Incredibly humble, and that's why his writing and analysis of the game improved a hundredfold over the course of the last two years. There's a lesson to be learned, and that lesson is this: being successful seems like way too much hard work, so I'll stick with mediocrity.

Anyway, congratulations BJ, and in your honor this shall be "The BJ mailbag." Don't make a joke. Don't do it. Get your head out of the gutter and be happy for our friend. Let's mailbag.

That's a great question. I will pick one of each.

Guy who will be unexpectedly be "down"- Derrick Johnson

Am I at least partly trying to reverse-jinx one of my favorite Chiefs of all time? You bet your sweet tail I am. However, the question calls for a good player with potential to not do as well as we expect (not "mediocre player" or whatever). And gun to my head, my guess would be DJ.

I could be wrong, but I felt like he slowed down just a little last year. Barely enough to notice, mind you. But enough that every now and then I did, you know, notice (at least I thought I did). Also, there seemed to be fewer "splash" plays from DJ than in previous years. Of course, he still had way more than most inside linebackers, so there's a very good chance I'm imagining things.

The problem is he's on the wrong side of 30 (he'll be 32 in November) and a big part of his game is his insane athleticism, which allows him to zoom to the ball like few other inside linebackers. IF what I saw last year was that first half-step being lost, all too often the following year carries a very, very noticeable full step lost.

I really, really, really, really, really hope I'm wrong here. And one should never discount that DJ works like crazy and has phenomenal instincts, both of which will slow the aging process. But he's the guy I'd say would be down.

Guy who will be awesome and surprise - Dwayne Bowe

Hear me out! Don't go! I swear I have reasons! Joel will give you a dollar if you read the rest of this column!

(Note; the preceding statement was a jest made by the author of this column, not the owners or agents of the company which supports Arrowhead Pride or Joel Thorman himself. As such, it should not be taken as a viable offer for performance does not create an opportunity for a valid contract under common law. Note within the note ... SEE how boring law is???)

Anyway, Bowe. Look, I understand that Bowe is a HIGHLY recognizable name. And as recently as just last year, Bowe was arguably overrated by the Chiefs fan base.

That said ... remember the "overrated for being underrated" phenomenon that you always hear about (H/T Bill Simmons, I think)? Well, is it possible that with Bowe we're starting to see the exact OPPOSITE of that occurring?

What I mean is this: all I'm hearing about Bowe is how he underachieved last year (he did), wasn't worth his giant contract (he wasn't), and isn't a good fit for Alex Smith (debatable, but last year sure made it appear to be the case). It's gone far enough that a lot of fans and pundits are calling into question Bowe's status as a "true" No. 1 receiver. These questions have always existed for Bowe, but this offseason they've been treated much more as reality than not.

Even generally optimistic fans don't seem to be counting on Bowe to do much more than "improve" on last year. As in, "Yeah, Bowe will probably get a thousand yards this season." There's not really much talk of the possibility that Bowe has a GREAT year, for a variety of reasons (Smith's history with WRs, some doubt as to Bowe's legitimacy as a No. 1 guy, etc.).

But what if what we saw in the playoff game from Bowe wasn't an aberration? What if Smith is finally comfortable throwing to Bowe in a tight spot and trusting him to come down with it? That would be ... well, that'd be nice, to put it mildly.

Remember all the talk (by, well, me) about Smith throwing the ball around a lot more to close out the season? Well, that had an effect on Bowe as well, at least statistically. Through the first nine games of the season, Bowe averaged 11.2 yards per catch. Over the course of the last seven games (when Smith was statistically much more aggressive), Bowe averaged 14.2 yards per catch. If you were wondering, a three yard swing is huge in that area.

And before you say, "Yeah, well, it was just the playoff game that swung it," you should note that even if you throw out Bowe's best game (which is always silly when dealing with averages if you aren't going to throw out the worst game, but whatever), he still averaged 12.6 yards per catch in six games after the bye week. That's still a significant jump from 11.2

Anyway, all this might mean nothing. But my feeling (and that's basically all it is; a feeling) is that Bowe was embarrassed by how last year went for him, especially after bold predictions of leading the league in receiving stats. I think he's going to show up in crazy shape, be aggressive, and pulverize some defenses this year. And almost no one will see it coming.

I love this question so much I want to adopt it and raise it as my own.

This really doesn't require too much in-depth analysis. If I could kill off absolutely anyone on the show at this point, it would absolutely be either Roose Bolton or his sadistic kid Ramsey. They are genuinely psychotic, were responsible for one of the most horrifying scenes in TV history, and ... well, they're the most unlikeable guys in Westeros at this point. Honorable mention: Cersei Lannister, The Mountain, Theon, Littlefinger, and ... wow, there aren't nearly as many people to hate anymore, are there?

The resurrection question is tougher. My first reaction was, "Ned Stark, next question." Then I thought about it a little more. Is Ned Stark at all likely to survive much longer upon resurrection than he did the first time? Won't his honor get him killed very quickly all over again? Would I WANT a character I liked so much to find out what's happened to his family since his death? Wouldn't I rather stay dead than find out my heir was killed, my wife's throat was slit, my sons are missing, my oldest daughter is looking way too fond of Littlefinger, and my youngest daughter is looking way too fond of killing people? What would a resurrected Ned Stark really DO? No army, no home, no family ... I don't know if Ned makes it 10 minutes without offing himself.

Robb Stark, same thing only MORE so. If I'm going to raise a guy whose honor is going to get him killed, I pick Ned over Robb every time. Robb's a pale imitation of Ned who died because of stupidity (not trying to be mean here, but how do you NOT realize you gotta follow through on a marriage commitment?) rather than JUST honor. OK, Ned was pretty stupid at parts too, but still, I'm not sure what Robb would accomplish if resurrected.

I'll concede there's an off chance Robb rallies the North behind him again. Actually, I could see that happening WAY more easily with Ned.  People loved him, and I'm guessing they aren't crazy about Roose and his psycho kid. So maybe I'm wrong in thinking Ned wouldn't have anything to do. Another rebellion, this time with Ned in the field and not trapped in King's Landing?  Sounds good to me.

That said, there's one guy I could see striking major blows for "good" (as much as it exists in Westeros) and being crazy-fun to watch while he does it: Prince Oberyn Martell. The king of poorly-timed trash talk. The most skilled fighter the show has revealed (he made killing The Mountain look easy. Just has to, you know, focus). He's dangerous fun, and seems to have some scruples. I'd take him back if it weren't for one other guy ...

Khal Drogo. Remember that guy? Yes, I know he wasn't really anything more than a plot machination. And I know that he's not really the most moral guy out there (Westeros would DEFINITELY suffer if he invaded). And I understand that picking someone based on nothing more than how bad a dude he is is really, really silly.

But Good God, man, that is one bad dude.

The fact that he died the way he did never sat well with me. I want to see Dany back on track with Khal Drogo forcing the action. And I definitely, definitely want to see more of Drogo making killing highly skilled warriors while unarmed seem as easy as tripping over your feet in the dark. Drogo's my choice to resurrect. Imagine the chaos.

Man, we're at 2000 words already. I'll fit in the question from the enemy next time (spoiler, it involves my former obsession Tyson Jackson, so good times will be had by all), because I should really do some studying before this caffeine wears off. Because, you know, law. We'll try to get the next mailbag out quickly, so don't hesitate to send all the questions.

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