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Talking Chiefs' surge, team MVP, Broncos fans and more

Updated: 2013-11-05T19:50:33Z

By SAM MELLINGER

The Kansas City Star

The win against Buffalo is going to be picked apart. Heck, it is already. Including a little by this sexy beast of a sports columnist here but I hope we can all keep level heads about this:

The Chiefs have been on the good end of a lot of good breaks this year, but they were on the bad end of two specific bad breaks in Buffalo that might’ve kept it from being a blowout win (more on this below).

Also, saying the Chiefs aren’t winning style points is not the same thing as saying they’re a bad team. The NFL is stacked for parity, especially this year, and if this is the worst 9-0 team ever that’s better than being the best 8-1 team ever.

Anyway, you guys got me going this week. Up over 3,000 words. So we might as well just get to it.

The reading recommendation is Seth Wickersham’s piece on the retired Rolando McClain, and the eating recommendation is the Ol’ Smoky at Danny Edwards.

As always, thanks for your help and thanks for reading.

This was my favorite Tweet from yesterday, sent right after Sean Smith’s police escort into the end zone.

First 20 seconds of this video are for you, my man:

The Chiefs keep winning the same game, over and over: barely enough offense, good special teams, a defense that makes all the most important plays, and, yup, a dollop of luck.

Some of you are quite sensitive about that last part. We’ll get to that soon.

Coaches aren’t eligible, so I think we’re looking at Jamaal Charles, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dontari Poe and Derrick Johnson as the leading candidates. There are others you can make a case for, of course. Eric Berry is having the best season of his career. Marcus Cooper is a phenomenon nobody saw coming. Tyson Jackson is having a HELL of a seaons. Et cetera.

The Houston-Hali-Poe-Johnson thing is a great debate. Terez and I talked about it briefly on a video a few weeks ago. I chose Houston, because he’s more versatile. Terez chose Tamba, because of the motor and attention he draws. But Johnson might be having the best season of any of them, and there’s a case to be made that Poe is the one that makes the whole thing go.

Whatever. As the team MVP so far, I’m taking Charles. The responsibility they’re putting on his (aching, probably) shoulders is as much as any non-quarterback in the league has. He’s by far the team’s best playmaker, and, actually, so far the offense’s only playmaker.

He’s also the answer to this question: Which player can the Chiefs least likely afford to lose?^

^ Branden Albert might be No. 2 on that list, which is a debate for another day.

Jenkins and Hemingway need to get better. Terez notes that Jenkins got something like 30 snaps a few weeks ago without a target, which is a pretty good indication he’s not getting open. Hemingway had that great catch in the opener at Jacksonville, but not much since.

Look, in a different world you might question the coaching about what they see and why those other guys aren’t on the field more. But not these coaches, not this year. That’s on Jenkins and Hemingway to get better.

Get to work early one day and put neck braces on their desks.

I mean, probably. But that’s not the standard, is it? The ’72 Dolphins? Can we all make a pact that we won’t freak the hell out when the Chiefs lose a game?

Please?

Some of it is, yeah. Like when the third-string quarterback makes a brutal misread and, instead of throwing to the wide open receiver in the end zone, hits the cornerback in the numbers for a 100-yard pick six.

Or, the week before, when Dexter McCluster fumbles but the Chiefs gain yardage out of it and when the Browns punt returner (the backup, because the starter got hurt) fumbles one it turns into perhaps the biggest play of the game.

And do you remember the Tennessee game? The ball that bounced off the back of the Titans player’s foot, and into the end zone, where Marcus F. Cooper recovered it for a touchdown?

Look, it’s not ALL luck. Or, like I tried to say in the column, it’s not dumb luck — educated luck is more like it.

But of course there’s luck going on here, and here’s one more thing:

Every Super Bowl winner since the very beginning had at some luck along the way.

Well, except for these guys:

No, I’ve actually heard this a couple different places and, yeah, that’s some optimistic thinking. But, guys, look … the Chiefs not only can’t afford to treat this game like their Super Bowl, they don’t need to treat this game like their Super Bowl.

A split with the Broncos keeps them in control of the AFC West, and don’t buy into this idea that the Chiefs just cannot, no-way, no-how, why-do-they-even-try hang with the Broncos.

Look at this …

… I mean, come on. The Broncos are good. Very good. Might be the best team in the NFL, actually. But this is the NFL, not college football. There isn’t that much separation. The Cowboys scored 48 points on Denver. Indy scored 39.

The Broncos have turned it over 17 times, more than all but four teams, and their defense is giving up 6.8 yards per pass — more than all but seven teams.

Again. The Broncos are very, very good.

And very, very good teams can be beat.

Well, screw it. Why not?

I’m guessing — and, hell, anyone who tells you they’re doing anything more than that is a liar — the playoff field will be Chiefs, Broncos, Patriots, Bengals, Colts and Titans^.

^ That last spot could be just about anyone, other than the Jaguars. I’m taking the Titans over the Jets, Dolphins and Chargers mostly because I don’t trust the Jets, wonder what the hell is going on with the Dolphins , and the Chargers have all four games left with the Chiefs and Broncos, plus the Bengals and at Miami. The Titans have Jake Locker back, and get the Jaguars twice.

But your question is about which team would be the Chiefs’ best matchup, and I could give you a convoluted answer about two playoff scenarios, one where the Chiefs win the division and get the first-round bye, the other where the Broncos win the division and the Chiefs have to play a division winner on the road in the first round but, really, in either case, the answer among the likely playoff teams is Cincinnati.

If the Chiefs win the division, they’d get the Bengals at home in the divisional round. Lose the division, and the game is on the road in the wild card round. You don’t have to worry too much about the other wild card team in either scenario if you assume the other wild card team will be first-round fodder for the Colts or Patriots, whoever doesn’t get the bye.

Between the Eagles and Bills, the Chiefs have shown they can give up big games on the ground to quick and talented backs, but the Bengals can’t run the ball and Andy Dalton just showed himself capable of making some bad turnovers. The Bengals’ defense is very good, which could be a problem, but, hey, these are the playoffs.

But if the Chiefs could pick any of those wild card contenders, I think they’d want the Jets because Geno Smith would turn it over like 14 times.

Well, yeah, the timing is good for that reason and more. And I would take a day off from my duties as the president of the Save Jamaal Charles movement against the Broncos.

But like I say here, the main advantage of the timing is in the coaches getting two weeks to prepare and the players getting two weeks to hear they’re not good enough.

Your answer to this probably says much more about you as a fan than it does the Chiefs as a team.

But let’s play a little game real quick. The Chiefs have gotten lucky. Reasonable adults agree on this. But think about the Buffalo game, besides Tuel hitting Sean Smith in the numbers. One Buffalo drive was kept alive with a bogus roughing the passer penalty on Brandon Flowers. One Chiefs drive was cut short when McCluster dropped what almost certainly would’ve been a 56-yard touchdown before halftime.

If the refs make the right (no-) call on Flowers, and if McCluster catches that ball, we might be talking about a 30-10 win by the Chiefs, and wouldn’t that be a hell of a thing?

Also, instead of 19-for-29 for 124 yards and no touchdowns, Alex Smith would’ve been 20-for-28 (he threw an incompletion after McCluster’s drop) for 180 yards and a touchdown, and wouldn’t that be a lot better?

So, there’s no question the Chiefs have had some lucky breaks. But those were two very unlucky breaks that — in a vacuum — made the game much closer than it otherwise would’ve been.

I don’t know, I don’t care, and neither should you. It’s all true, just like the 9-0 record.

Why not look at it like this guy …

… because, let’s be honest, if you’re dating the ugliest Victoria’s Secret model, you’re doing pretty well.

I’m not that high on Mizzou hoops this year. I think they’ll miss Phil Pressey, especially if it means putting Jordan Clarkson — who is a stud — on the ball, which would mean taking away some of Clarkson’s strengths.

Kansas has what looks like one of the country’s best teams in a loaded year of college basketball, with three potential top 10 picks and a preseason All-American.

But I’ll give you two answers:

KU 75-68 if they played today.

KU 82-69 if they played in March.

Well, you’re not going to like this, but at least statistically, the 1997 team had a much better offense. This was the beginning of a two-year period that left us with what I call The Rich Gannon Effect — which Gannon talks about here.

That 1997 team finished fifth in points scored and first in points allowed; second in fewest turnovers committed and fourth in most turnovers forced. But, alas, Marty Schottenheimer played the wrong quarterback — though, to be fair, Elvis Grbac warned everyone he couldn’t throw it AND catch it.

I was in college in 1997, so I’m talking out of school here, but from what I hear the big difference with this year’s Chiefs team is a sense of togetherness. I normally think these things are overstated and overrated, but I believe it with this group, in part because of everything they’ve been through.

If you’re looking for a Chiefs comp, the better one might be 1993. The had a former 49ers quarterback who took care of the ball (though the guy in 1993 was better than the guy today) and a defense that forced a lot of turnovers (though the defense this year is better than 1993).

I have tunnel vision right now about this with baseball. Especially with Sergeant Brian McCann’s fight against emotion, which was taken up by the Cardinals in the playoffs — somehow.

I despise the baseball code that says you’re supposed to play a kids’ game at the highest level with all the joy of the guards outside Buckingham Palace, especially when the penalty for breaking the code is either a condescending lecture from someone who makes millions of dollars wearing polyester pants and gym socks or, for more flagrant violations, a 95 mph fastball thrown at a man’s brain.

I guess the story isn’t online yet, but in Tom Verducci’s Sports Illustrated story in which he floated the idea of a "bonus at bat,"^ I was thrilled to read an executive saying the game needed to open itself up to more emotion.

^ I actually like this idea, a lot, even as I can clearly see it’ll never take.

Lots of crap. I understand the desire to give everyone a home game, and I get that the aggregate thing is done in soccer, and I’m not one of these soccer-is-for-sissies-and-scoreless-ties people … but I can’t stand this playoff system. Absolutely hate it.

Though, actually, I don’t think it would be fixed if the higher seed got the first home game. I think the higher seed should get the last home game.

I just think it should either be a winner-take-all (my first choice), or 1-1-1 best-of-three.

Sporting beat New England 3-0 in August, so it shouldn’t be unusual. The key, obviously, is getting the first goal and then playing it out.

But, look, I have a lot of respect for Peter Vermes. If Sporting takes another early playoff exit, the team should wear some disappointment and take some heat. But I wouldn’t say it means they’ve hit the ceiling … yet.

Well, Weis took over a worse situation than Gill, but really, there are a few reasons Weis is a virtual lock to get another year:

- Firing a third coach in four years would be an awful look.

- Boosters have already written checks to get rid of Mangino, then more checks to get rid of Gill … now you’re going to ask them to write MORE checks for Weis?

But if you’re here to say that Charlie Weis is turning into a punchline, well, welcome to the party.

Is that a serious question?

No. Of course not. I believe that Santana would be absolutely thrilled if the Royals gave him the biggest offer. I also believe that Santana may be inclined to take a slightly — SLIGHTly — smaller offer to stay with the Royals.

I also believe that Santana is a human being, and a baseball player, and that history shows us he’ll go where the money is.

That’s just a well-executed question, my man. Nicely done. Let’s end on a good note.

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