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:
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
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 mightve kept it from being a blowout win (more on this below).
Also, saying the Chiefs arent winning style points is not the same thing as saying theyre a bad team. The NFL is stacked for parity, especially this year, and if this is the worst 9-0 team ever thats 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 Wickershams 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.
@mellinger Lets not get embarra.... ALL IN I NEVER DOUBTED YOU CHIEFS!!!— Owen Johnson (@ojohnson1) November 3, 2013
This was my favorite Tweet from yesterday, sent right after Sean Smiths police escort into the end zone.
@mellinger I like winning.— T.J. Huettenmueller (@Thuettenmueller) November 4, 2013
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. Well get to that soon.
@mellinger Whos your Chiefs MVP at this point in the season?— Tyler Hillsman (@thillsman) November 4, 2013
Coaches arent eligible, so I think were 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 hes 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 theres a case to be made that Poe is the one that makes the whole thing go.
Whatever. As the team MVP so far, Im taking Charles. The responsibility theyre putting on his (aching, probably) shoulders is as much as any non-quarterback in the league has. Hes by far the teams best playmaker, and, actually, so far the offenses only playmaker.
Hes 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.
@mellinger nothing against him, but Chad Hall continues to get targets, meanwhile Jenkins &Hemingway can't get on the field. What gives?— Michael Bondar (@litlmikeyb) November 4, 2013
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 hes 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 arent on the field more. But not these coaches, not this year. Thats on Jenkins and Hemingway to get better.
@mellinger Do you have any recommendations for how to deal with Bronco fans in the workplace over the next two weeks?— Joey Bahr (@joeybahr) November 4, 2013
Get to work early one day and put neck braces on their desks.
@mellinger I love this team, but the '72 Dolphins will be able to pop their champagne the minute the Chiefs fall down 2 scores, won't they?— Corey Anglemyer (@canglem) November 4, 2013
I mean, probably. But thats not the standard, is it? The 72 Dolphins? Can we all make a pact that we wont freak the hell out when the Chiefs lose a game?
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 players foot, and into the end zone, where Marcus F. Cooper recovered it for a touchdown?
Look, its not ALL luck. Or, like I tried to say in the column, its not dumb luck educated luck is more like it.
But of course theres luck going on here, and heres one more thing:
Every Super Bowl winner since the very beginning had at some luck along the way.
Well, except for these guys:
No, Ive actually heard this a couple different places and, yeah, thats some optimistic thinking. But, guys, look the Chiefs not only cant afford to treat this game like their Super Bowl, they dont need to treat this game like their Super Bowl.
A split with the Broncos keeps them in control of the AFC West, and dont 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
@mellinger Common opponents (NYG, Phil, Oak, Dal, Jax): Denver 216/131, KC 126/48. Margin of victory: Den +85, KC +78.— Alan Covington (@Alan_Covington) November 4, 2013
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 isnt 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?
Im guessing and, hell, anyone who tells you theyre 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. Im taking the Titans over the Jets, Dolphins and Chargers mostly because I dont 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, theyd 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 dont 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 doesnt 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 cant 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 theyd want the Jets because Geno Smith would turn it over like 14 times.
@mellinger Jamaal Charles has to touch the ball around 48 times against the Broncos, right? Best bye week timing ever?— Brandon Urban (@burban77) November 4, 2013
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 theyre not good enough.
@mellinger is it a good or bad sign the chiefs haven't put together a complete game yet?— cristiano (@kuchristhompson) November 4, 2013
Your answer to this probably says much more about you as a fan than it does the Chiefs as a team.
But lets 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 wouldve 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 wouldnt that be a hell of a thing?
Also, instead of 19-for-29 for 124 yards and no touchdowns, Alex Smith wouldve been 20-for-28 (he threw an incompletion after McClusters drop) for 180 yards and a touchdown, and wouldnt that be a lot better?
So, theres 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 wouldve been.
@mellinger don't you think your "these guys are SO lucky" narrative takes away from this team's accomplishments?— Kyle Brynsvold (@kbrynsvold) November 4, 2013
I dont know, I dont care, and neither should you. Its all true, just like the 9-0 record.
Why not look at it like this guy
@mellinger I don't mind being called the worst 9-0 team ever...they are still 9-0.— Andrew McDanel (@andrewmcdanel) November 4, 2013
because, lets be honest, if youre dating the ugliest Victorias Secret model, youre doing pretty well.
@mellinger Missouri vs. Kansas at Sprint Center. Whats the score?— Eric Gromacki (@Gromacki16) November 4, 2013
Im not that high on Mizzou hoops this year. I think theyll miss Phil Pressey, especially if it means putting Jordan Clarkson who is a stud on the ball, which would mean taking away some of Clarksons strengths.
Kansas has what looks like one of the countrys best teams in a loaded year of college basketball, with three potential top 10 picks and a preseason All-American.
But Ill give you two answers:
KU 75-68 if they played today.
KU 82-69 if they played in March.
Well, youre 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 couldnt throw it AND catch it.
I was in college in 1997, so Im talking out of school here, but from what I hear the big difference with this years 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 theyve been through.
If youre 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 McCanns fight against emotion, which was taken up by the Cardinals in the playoffs somehow.
I despise the baseball code that says youre 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 mans brain.
I guess the story isnt online yet, but in Tom Verduccis 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 itll never take.
@mellinger How crap is it that the higher seed in the MLS playoffs has to start on the road in an aggregate environment?— Matt Pitts (@MattPitts_) November 4, 2013
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 Im not one of these soccer-is-for-sissies-and-scoreless-ties people but I cant stand this playoff system. Absolutely hate it.
Though, actually, I dont 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.
@mellinger does SKC get the job done and win by 2 goals, Wednesday? Has the Vermes ceiling been hit?— PVHX (@mmMOUF) November 4, 2013
Sporting beat New England 3-0 in August, so it shouldnt 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 wouldnt say it means theyve hit the ceiling yet.
@mellinger KU only gave Gill two years. Whats Weis done to deserve a longer tenure at KU than Gill had?— Mark Peavy (@mdpeavy) November 4, 2013
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 youre going to ask them to write MORE checks for Weis?
But if youre here to say that Charlie Weis is turning into a punchline, well, welcome to the party.
@mellinger saw Ervin Santana retweeting fans who are wishing he'd stay. Do you see that as a sign he's leaning towards staying in KC?— Brennan Mense (@ItsBrennanMense) November 4, 2013
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 hell go where the money is.
@mellinger Is Andy Reid the best or worst coach to have a 13-1 record coming off a bye week?— Ted Martin (@Jayhawk432) November 4, 2013
Thats just a well-executed question, my man. Nicely done. Lets end on a good note.