Like the actual US stock market this week, the Chiefs shocked us with a dramatic comeback. The team nobody was talking about - but now everyone is talking about how nobody is talking about them - is riding high on a five-game win streak. There are reasons for optimism as they enter the stretch run: The Chiefs ability to come from behind, to win games when they aren’t at their best and the next-man-up philosophy in action. Oh yeah, and they are about to get one of the top defenders back.
A game like one this past week wouldn’t be won without some big individual performances. Then again, they wouldn’t have been down 17 points without some terrible mistakes. This week’s stock report:
Second straight week on this list after going four for four again. His first walk off kick was right down the middle. He’s looking the part of a guy you can trust with the game on the line, and I suspect they’ll need him on the run towards the playoffs.
For those wondering why the Chiefs would pay Berry the money he is wanting, see Sunday’s game against Carolina. Not only did Berry have a spectacular momentum shifting pick six but he basically predicted it during his halftime rallying of troops. EVERYONE refers to him as the emotional and vocal leader of the team, and he showed this week that he gets it done on the field as well. It wasn’t just the pick six either, as MNChiefsfan pointed out below, Berry’s role as an enforcer makes him a very valuable man in the Chiefs young secondary. Berry gave up three catches for 26 yards with a pass breakup in coverage and notched nine tackles including one for a loss. Huge game for the future Chiefs HOFer.
Ramik does a nice job here avoiding a block and keeping Cam running, but watch Berry. No other S in the league besides Kam makes this play. pic.twitter.com/4lbaL3EIzN— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) November 14, 2016
The Chiefs playoff outlook
Rising to the No. 2 seed in the AFC is a critically important development this week. The No. 2 seed would afford the Chiefs (and perhaps Jamaal Charles) a bye week to get healthy. They’d also get at least one home playoff game, and as we’ve seen all season Arrowhead is back. The AFC West is still the dominant division in football, and KC has to face a few more division games yet this season. If they are somehow able to hold on to the No. 2 seed, they could really be set up to make a deep playoff run.
Not much else can be said from a fan perspective about the performance of Dee Ford. The Panthers confirmed where No. 55 stands by double teaming him this week. That’s right, former disappointment Dee Ford is now getting multiple sacks (one called back for a hold) in a game where he’s double teamed. The same guy that people wanted benched for Dezman Moses, Dadi Nicolas (and every OLB cut by every other team) is now a force to be reckoned with. Next week, Justin Houston should be on the other side of the formation from THIS version of Dee Ford. We might need a new category for this report called “Holy Sh$%”
Others who are trending upward: Ramik Wilson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Steven Nelson, Marcus Peters, Chris Jones
The Chiefs TEs
I’m throwing the entire position group under the bus here even though Kelce made some big catches this week. At least three drops, all of which were U G L Y. Demetrius Harris got the party started by dropping a short pass that hit him in the numbers, Ross Travis had another ugly drop, James O’Shaughnessy was targeted once (it wasn’t close to a reception), and Kelce’s drop cost the team at least a 25-yard gain. The Chiefs went heavy on the tight ends this week against a tough front seven, and it didn’t pay off.
Rough week for Alex Smith. His receivers didn’t do him any favors, but this game was nearly a blowout loss and it would have been largely because of their QB. The box score is terrible (178 yds and an interception) and the eye test may have been even worse, at least in the first half. Games like this are the reason why Chiefs fans and pundits say the team is severely limited with Smith under center. They won in spite of their QB, not because of him this week. As long as they win, the team will stick with him, but if they start losing games due to QB play, and/or get an early exit from the playoffs ... you’ll hear more stories like this one.
It’s quite likely that it’s not Conley’s fault he’s on this list but the fact is that he SHOULD be thriving while Maclin is out of the lineup. This week, Conley was targeted three times, ended with one catch for 12 yards. We’ve come to believe that Conley is among the most improved players on the team, but it HAS to start showing up in production. Tyreek Hill is getting targets with good reason. Conley needs to assert himself and keep his spot in the rotation.
Others who are trending in the wrong direction: Eric Fisher (had a bad game in a very good season), Phillip Gaines (hurt again)
While he’s as active and relentless as ever, Tamba’s days as an impact player may be over. The Tambahawk has only 1.5 sacks on the season thus far. He nearly got another this week, but Cam Newton somehow got off a throw while in the grasp of two Chiefs defenders. His leadership, willingness to teach and loyalty to the team are beyond reproach. Hali is still an important part of this defense, even if his snaps and production are way down.
Poe batted a pass this week, and made two tackles. He has 15 tackles and a half sack thus far in a contract year. He is consistently commanding double teams and allowing the rest of the front seven to be active and make plays. If he wants that massive contract this offseason, he probably needs to do more.
DJ is still among the most important Chiefs defenders, continuing to play at a high level well into his 30s. His ability to stuff the run and cover backs appears to still be among the league’s best. However, there were times he was on the sidelines this week, when ordinarily he doesn’t leave the field. DJ played fewer snaps than fellow ILB Ramik Wilson for the first time. Something to monitor in the coming weeks as DJ was a bit banged up.
Others who are who we thought they were: Spencer Ware, Mitch Morse, LDT