Five Things to Watch: How Much Will the Ravens Try to Blitz Alex Smith? from The Mothership
1. How much will the Ravens try to blitz
Alex Smith has a passer rating of 110.1 against the blitz this season, which is only behind Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks for the best mark in the league.
He's completed 66 percent of his passes with 8 touchdowns and just 1 interception when defenses have sent more than four players after him this season.
Smith and the Chiefs offense will face a Baltimore Ravens defense on Sunday that has allowed a passer rating of 121.27 (89 of 147 for 1,405 yards, 14 touchdowns, 1 interception) when they've blitzed this season.
Ravens HC John Harbaugh: "Andy Reid is a Great Leader" from The Mothership
Before the Kansas City Chiefs, there were the Philadelphia Eagles. And before Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub, there was Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
Harbaugh served as special teams coordinator (1998-06) and secondary coach (2007) under Reid, who was the head coach of the Eagles from 1999-2012.
"I know firsthand that they're very well-coached and that they'll play hard," Reid said of the Ravens. "It's easy when you turn on the film to see they're not exactly what their record shows. They had a few injuries but the guys who are playing in there are playing their hearts out."
Of the nine seasons the two coached together, the Eagles made it to the playoffs in six, and they reached the Super Bowl in 2004.
14 Things You Didn't Know About Dee Ford from The Mothership
11. What's your favorite barbecue place in Kansas City?
Chiefs' rookie wide receiver Chris Conley has a unique perspective on the ‘Star Wars' fervor from The Kansas City Star
In his dorm watching YouTube videos one day, and having seen plenty of fan films, he thought he had a good idea that there was no reason he couldn't make happen.
"Instead of just thinking of something," he said, "actually doing it was really what it came down to, a ‘put up or shut up' kind of thing."
Through movie nights with his family, he'd long been a fan of the "Star Wars" serial. And he particularly related to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
"I try and think of myself as a guy that takes after a hero character and a guy that kind of seems underappreciated the whole time until he dies," Conley said via teleconference the night the Chiefs drafted him in the third round.
At the time, he added, "Just one of those things about being taught by my parents to never let go of who you are: Remain who you are regardless of what everyone around you says."
That mind-set helps account for why Conley launched the improbable project that features scenes inside Sanford Stadium and appearances by, among others, then-Georgia coach Mark Richt and current Rams star Todd Gurley.
Week 15: Friday injury report from Chiefs Digest
Chiefs running back Spencer Ware (rib) put in a limited practice Friday after missing the past two days and could be available Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
Coach Andy Reid told reporters after Friday's practice that Ware "did a nice job."
The Chiefs officially list Ware as questionable, which indicates a 50-50 chance to play, along with guard Jeff Allen (ankle) on the final injury.
There are no surprises on the players who will not play Sunday, as safety Husain Abdullah (concussion), outside linebacker Justin Houston (knee) and wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas are officially designated as out.
Chiefs' Spencer Ware returns to practice from Chiefs Digest
Ravens coach John Harbaugh hasn't named a starting quarterback between Jimmy Clausen and Matt Schaub for Sunday's game.
"I'm probably not going to name a quarterback today," Harbaugh said. "That's probably all I have to say on the matter."
Asked specifically about Schaub, who replaced injured Joe Flacco but was injured himself and gave way to Clausen last week, Harbaugh said, "He looked good. I won't way he's 100 percent, but by Sunday he has a chance to be 100 percent. He's a tough guy. He worked hard this week."
The Chiefs don't have an individual pass-rusher in the NFL's top 12, but they have 12 players with at least one sack. The Chiefs are fourth in the league in sacks and on pace for 48, which would be Kansas City's highest total since 2000.
The injured Justin Houston, who will likely miss his third straight game Sunday against the Ravens because of a hyper-extended knee, leads the Chiefs with 7.5 sacks. Kansas City's individual leader may finish the season with the smallest sack total since 2008, when Tamba Hali had three and the Chiefs infamously had 10.
They have seven players with at least three sacks this year.
Chiefs hope Dee Ford builds on his strong performance against San Diego from The Kansas City Star
Now Ford, 24, has to prove it wasn't a fluke, though defensive coordinator Bob Sutton noted this week that Ford's latest performance should prove that he is, at the very least, an improved player.
"It was exciting to see him do the things he did," Sutton said. "The sacks were great and he made three or four really outstanding plays."
Ford's breakout performance aided a strong Chiefs' rush that has not missed a beat since Houston suffered a hyperextended left knee in a 30-22 win over the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 29. The Chiefs, 8-5, rank fourth in the NFL in total sacks with 39, an average of three per game, and in the two games since his injury, the Chiefs are averaging 4 1/2 per game.
Keys to the game: Chiefs @ Ravens from Chiefs Digest
In the last two games, the Chiefs offense has not been as efficient and productive as they were in the first five of the seven straight victories. There were four turnovers and six sacks given up against Oakland and San Diego, the No. 25 and No. 24 defenses in the league.
Part of the explanation is the division-nature of those games and the understanding that each team has of their twice-a-year opponent. That's not the case with Baltimore; the Chiefs and Ravens have not met since the 2012 season.
In the not for long league, that's an eternity, so there's not a lot of carryover for this game in offensive or defensive knowledge.
So it would be surprising to see Dorsey and the Chiefs veer away from that philosophy and go with an inside linebacker in the first round.
That's what ESPN's Todd McShay has them doing in his first mock draft of the season. He has the Chiefs selecting Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland in the first round.
Things could be different for the Chiefs this year because they will probably pick lower in the first round than they have since Dorsey's arrival. But the Chiefs have some inside linebackers, another factor that makes Ragland's selection unlikely.
Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson is playing better than ever, and here's why that's remarkable from The Kansas City Star
A ruptured Achilles tendon means an All-Pro linebacker's body is as useful on an NFL team as your neighbor's. But the mind is a different thing entirely, so Derrick Johnson's family grew used to a sort of a next-level broadcast during Chiefs games last year...
"...Every game, at some point, it was, ‘Boy, I wish I could be out there," said Beverly, Derrick's mother.
"He's just so antsy," Dwight said. "It was, ‘It's a slant! It's a slant!' Or, ‘Cover 2! Get in Cover 2!' He's calling it out from the couch, because he knows the tendencies of all the teams."
The Baltimore Ravens were able to clinch a playoff berth last season because the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh promised to buy dinner for Chiefs coach Andy Reid to thank him.
Harbaugh has yet to settle up with Reid, but he plans to do so.
"We did hang out at the combine and at the owners meetings," said Harbaugh, who was an assistant on Reid's staff in Philadelphia for nine seasons. "We've had some time together. I think he's probably going to hold me to that."
Chiefs-Ravens scouting report from The Kansas City Star
Bottom line: Chiefs 20-13
At 4-9, the Ravens have openly decided to develop young players over the final three games. That's not an ideal formula to beat the streaking Chiefs, who have won seven games in a row and still in the hunt to win the AFC West. As long as the Chiefs, 8-5, don't take this one for granted, they should be alright, but this game could become dangerous, especially if the Chiefs can't get their ground game going against a solid Baltimore front. Remember, prior to their blowout loss last week, the Ravens were in every game this season.
KANSAS CITY AT BALTIMORE
Kansas City Chiefs: Expect a feast for the Kansas City defense, which preyed on Pittsburgh's Landry Jones the only time this season it has faced a backup quarterback. The Ravens will use a backup Sunday, whether it's Matt Schaub or Jimmy Clausen, and they've been prone to throwing interceptions. Baltimore throws an interception on 3.2 percent of its passes, one of the highest rates in the league. The Chiefs, led by rookie Marcus Peters, have 18 interceptions, second-most in the NFL. Turnovers will carry the Chiefs to a victory. Chiefs 27, Ravens 16. -- Adam Teicher
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens haven't decided between Clausen or Schaub, but does it really matter? Baltimore has scored a league-worst three offensive touchdowns in three games without Joe Flacco. The Chiefs have allowed an NFL-low eight touchdowns in their past five games. Chiefs 20, Ravens 12. -- Jamison Hensley
The 6-0, 240-pound Brown, a native of Wichita, Kan., enjoyed a decorated career at Kansas State as an All-American selection and the 2012 Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Brown's path, however, hit a road bump in Baltimore, where he currently serves as a backup to Daryl Smith, a 12-year veteran, and C.J. Mosely, a second-year pro.
And the former Wildcat admits his career hasn't gone the way many envisioned when the Ravens selected Brown in the second round (56th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Ravens vs. Chiefs: scouting report from The Baltimore Sun
Harbaugh said it best during the week when he praised the Chiefs for doing what the Ravens couldn't this year: reboun from a bad start, survive a couple of key injuries and get into position to make the postseason. The Chiefs are playing as well as anybody while the Ravens are playing out the string with a depleted roster and uncertainty at quarterback. At this point, the Ravens need help from the opposition to win, and that's one thing the Chiefs haven't given in months. This one shouldn't be in doubt. CHIEFS, 26-13
Sunday Afternoon Preview: Kansas City Chiefs At Baltimore Ravens from CBS Baltimore
1. The all-time series is tied 3-3, but the Ravens have won three straight meetings - including a 9-6 victory in the most recent clash in 2012.
2. Kansas City DE Tamba Hali needs one sack to surpass Neil Smith (86.5) for second on the team's all-time list.
3. Baltimore WR Kamar Aiken has posted at least five receptions and 45 receiving yards in six straight games.
LINE: Chiefs -7.5
PREDICTION: Chiefs 26, Ravens 16
Three Chiefs Players Give Back to Local Youth Athletes Before Christmas from The Mothership
Three Kansas City Chiefs players—tight end
Travis Kelce, running back Charcandrick Westand nose tackle Dontari Poe—surprised the youth at a local sporting goods store in Leawood, Kan. with a $150 gift card for each of them to purchase items that would meet their teams' needs.
"It was awesome, just to help the kids, see them with a smile on their face," Kelce said. "Sports Matter also chipped in and they're the reason. They helped youth sports all over the place that are folding and communities in schools and things like that.
Ford makes most of mentoring, opportunities from The St. Joseph News-Press
"Through last year and this year, you have to be patient," Ford said. "With whatever your role is, you have to fill it out. Be man enough to humble yourself and learn from two of the greatest linebackers in this league and I've been able to do some things."
Ever since the Chiefs selected Ford out of Auburn in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, the expectations have been high. Some of the criticisms have been tough. At the time of his selection, some analysts said Ford was too small to stop the run. Even now, some say his only true skill is speed rushing.
Ford wants to change that.
Chiefs' Eric Berry donates cash, toys to Children's Mercy Hospital from The Kansas City Star
On Tuesday, Berry personally delivered approximately $3,500 in cash, $550 in gift cards, $400 in gift bags and $14,000 in toys to Children's Mercy Hospital.
The Eric Berry Foundation teamed up with Baron BMW/Clore Automotive, whose donations equaled $10,000 in toys and cash, to benefit the hospital's Snowflake Shoppe, which gives parents and caregivers an opportunity to choose toys for sick children in the hospital for no cost.
Berry's foundation started generated donations for the hospital during the World Series, and Tuesday's delivery of the cash and toys, which included Legos, for example, and were delivered via a 15-foot truck, was the culmination of those efforts. Berry visited with several children during the delivery, along with friends Savion Frazier and Bernard Williams.
Chiefs' Derrick Johnson is helping build reading rooms for kids from The Kansas City Star
On Monday, Johnson toured the newly-completed Discovery Den at Benjamin Banneker Middle School in Kansas City, along with Mayor Sly James. It is one of five discovery dens Johnson has opened over the past year through his Defend the Dream Foundation, with the help of Scholastic. The others are at Academia de Ninos, Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School, Satchel Paige Elementary School and Crispus Attucks Elementary School.
"Education gives kids opportunities of their future and it's the key to get them out of the situation they are in, now," Johnson said in a statement. "By doing just a little bit more and doing it early, in elementary and middle school, it's going to help them in the long run."
Bowles has already said he would like to sign Fitzpatrick, who will expect to make more than $5 million per year. The Jets will most likely have to franchise Muhammad Wilkerson. That will eat up over $15 million of the 2016 cap. And they also have to re-sign running back Chris Ivory.
So the math will be a little trickier this time around -- and so will the schedule. The AFC East has to play the NFC West and the AFC North. Finishing second in the AFC East this season means the Jets will most likely play the Kansas City Chiefs and whatever team finishes second in the AFC South in 2016.
As long as the Jets can keep Fitzpatrick, they should be around eight to 10 wins next year. The team is loaded along the defensive line (Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams) and in the secondary (Revis, Skrine, Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor).
N.F.L. Playoff Picture: Your Guide to Watching Week 15 from The New York Times
The Chiefs started the season 1-5 and haven't lost since; they're almost certain to make the playoffs. If they win their remaining three games — against three non-playoff teams, the Ravens, the Browns and the Raiders — Kansas City will make the playoffs, as either the No. 5 seed or, if the Broncos lose twice, the A.F.C. West champion and No. 3 seed.
Even if the Chiefs lose to the Raiders in Week 17 after winning the previous two weeks, Kansas City still has a 98 percent chance to make the playoffs. All that needs to happen is the Jets or Steelers to lose at least once. If the Chiefs do make it, they will be only the second team in history, after the 1970 Bengals, to have started 1-5 and made the playoffs.
With a win over Baltimore this week: 99 percent chance at playoffs
With a loss: 86 percent
Week 15 picks: Prepare for the Giants to spoil the Panthers' perfect season from Sports Illustrated
Ravens coach John Harbaugh spent all those years on Andy Reid's staff in Philadelphia and then went and earned a Super Bowl ring in his fifth season of running his own show in Baltimore. Reid is still chasing that elusive piece of jewelry, now in his 17th season as an NFL head coach. But at least his red-hot Kansas City club is back in the running for Santa Clara after that miserable 1≠5 start the Chiefs endured. The Ravens, in a rare off year in Baltimore, started badly and got worse. It might have something to do with the Ravens having close to $55 million worth of 2015 salary idling on injured reserve at this point.
Saturday night's all right for NFL, Jets and Cowboys from The Toronto Sun
FORCE NOT STRONG WITH REID
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, a coachaholic's coachaholic, was asked in jest Friday if he saw the new Star Wars movie on Thursday night, or had plans to see it Friday night.
What do you think.
"Yeah, you know, the only Star Wars I see is when I turn off the lights and watch tape," Reid said, referring to the Chiefs' Sunday opponent Baltimore, "and look at No. 91 for them, and 57."
No. 91 is Ravens OLB Courtney Upshaw, No. 57 is ILB C.J. Mosley.
"That's enough Star Wars for me," Reid said.