The Chiefs are undefeated, tracking for what would be their first playoff win in 20 years, and preparing for what might be the game of the year so far in the NFL.
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
The Royals are coming off their most wins since 1989, straight into an offseason that will go a long way in determining how this seven-year process turns out.
Though, in addition to adding a bat and replacing Ervin Santana, the most important thing is getting Mike Moustakas fixed.
Mizzou is in the top 10 of the BCS rankings, and in control of its fate in the SEC one of the most successful seasons in program history very much in play.
K-State is balling out, as the kids say, three blowout wins in a row and probably playing better than anyone else in the Big 12.
KU football is a mess, of course, but the basketball team has the sports most talked about player and will play Duke tonight in one of the games greatest showcases.
Sporting Kansas City is preparing for the second leg of its Eastern Conference final, in good position to advance to the MLS Cup championship.
This is one of those times its fun to like sports, even in Kansas City.
As always, thanks for your help and for reading.
I have no idea how to judge these types of things, especially in the moment, when this game is this week and were trying to compare it to past games, but, honestly. It might be this, right?
@mellinger Over-under on number of people in KC who use sick time next Monday?— rachel wolf (@rach4ku) November 11, 2013
Im just trying to figure out if it would be more if the Chiefs win, or if they lose.
@mellinger 1 seed and home field advantage vs. 5 seed playing on the road. Is it possible people are Underestimating this Broncos game?— Ben Davis (@bdaviskc) November 11, 2013
It is absolutely not possible that people are underestimating this game.
Especially since no matter what happens Sunday, they play again two weeks later. And then four more games after that.
It would be my honor:
The Chiefs opened the season against the NFLs version of FCS competition.
Week two, they won in part because the second-best receiver in football dropped a perfectly thrown deep ball in the fourth quarter.
Week three, their opponent made enough mistakes early that the Chiefs had a 10-point lead before their offense did anything. They won by 10.
Week five, they played a backup quarterback and were gifted a touchdown when a punt bounced into the leg of an opponent and into the end zone.
Week eight, they fumbled a punt and gained yards out of it. Their opponent (playing a third-string quarterback and backup punt returner) fumbled a punt and the Chiefs recovered in one of the biggest plays of the game.
Week nine, they played another third-string quarterback who, instead of throwing to the wide-open guy in the end zone, tunnel visioned a ball intercepted and returned 100 yards for a touchdown by a cornerback who was out of position.
Also, the Chiefs have a bye week going into their toughest game of the season and have had virtually no significant injuries.
Now, every bit of what is above here is, in part, a credit to the Chiefs. Marcus Cooper was aggressive and jumped on that ball in the end zone against Tennessee. Health is at least in part a function of a good medical staff and guys taking care of themselves. The Chiefs were in the right place to turn those mistakes in Philadelphia into points. And so on.
Also, theyve had some bad breaks. Dexter McCluster dropped a pass in Buffalo that he catches 99 out of 100 times, for instance. And the Chiefs play the kind of kamikaze defense with talented players that force opponents into a lot of mistakes they otherwise wouldnt make.
But theres no denying the Chiefs have been charmed.
No shame in it, either.
But, yes. Of course I chuckled. There was just no way that wasnt going to happen.
Not optimistic. Realistic. As it stands, the Chiefs have a one-game lead, though perhaps the (slightly) tougher schedule from here on out and I guess we have to play that out here:
Not counting the games against each other, the Broncos probably have the hardest assignment with a game at New England sandwiched between the Chiefs games. But other than that, they have the Titans and Chargers (on a Thursday night) at home, and the Texans (with the extra three days after the Thursday night) and Raiders on the road.
The Chiefs toughest remaining game is the Colts at home. Other than that, they have Washington, the Raiders and Chargers on the road, and the Chargers at home.
So a split with Denver would mean the Broncos would need to outplay the Chiefs by a game the rest of the way, plus win the tiebreaker.
More than most teams, the Chiefs potential playoff success is tied pretty closely with homefield advantage.
@mellinger how does hazing at The Star work? Picking up the tab on fifteen dozen wings at The Peanut? Forced to cover high school bowling?— Brandon Urban (@burban77) November 11, 2013
You act like Ive never covered high school bowling. I have, actually, and thats not my lowest moment at the Star. My lowest moment was probably when a high school tennis player not even a really good one; I think he was like second-team All-EKL or something big leagued me.
I had just started at the Star, covering the EKL, and I dont remember the kids name but he was at Blue Valley Northwest. Anyway, I went out to their practice, waited until the end, and then the coach came over and said: "Hes not talking today."
This really happened.
I drove home and basically laughed at what my life had become.
@mellinger better Mizzou trip - likely loss to Bama in SEC Championship, or TBD bowl game (which I expect we'll get screwed on)?— Grant In KC (@RoyalsOptimist1) November 11, 2013
Id go to the bowl game, but thats mostly because Atlanta doesnt do much for me.
Manning has only been sacked 13 times this year, though eight of those have come in the last three games. Indianapolis did by far, really the best job of getting to Manning, sacking him four times and hurrying him and hitting him many other times.
The Chiefs have to go over that number, and really, with the way the Broncos offensive line is beat up backup left tackle, backup center, and a beat-up right tackle the goal should be closer to six.
I went into more detail in the column today, but as much as anything, this will be what determines the game on Sunday.
@mellinger KU's non con schedule this year is absurd. Will more than 3 losses hurt this team's confidence and back fire on Self?— Derek Henry (@dhenry75) November 11, 2013
If the team loses too much confidence and a few losses in November or December negatively impact what they look like in February and March, then the team is soft and has bigger problems.
And I dont think theyre soft.
Oh, I think itd be fabulous. Not a city-changer, but vaguely like the MLS All-Star game.
These next few weeks are vital for Sporting. They have an opportunity here, a real chance to push themselves and their sport in front of a larger chunk of Kansas City. Their re-branding has been brilliant, for the most part, and theyve created this incredible mutual love affair with a growing fan base.
But winning the MLS championship would grow the fan base even more, and earn them credibility with at least some folks whove stayed stubborn.
I hear you, man. The MLS schedule is confusing and drawn-out, and not just with this awkward two-week break in the middle of a playoff round for a FIFA international window. It shouldnt take 10 months to play the season, and sort of like late October baseball games in New York and Cleveland and (can you imagine?) Minnesota, its unfortunate that the most important games can and often are played in less-than-ideal conditions.
But, whatever. Itll be fun anyway.
OK, thats not bad.
Well, two things.
Theyre not the worst football team in Big 8/Big 12 history. That honor goes to the program Bill Snyder inherited in 1989.
Also, is KUs continued suckitude under Charlie Weis going unnoticed? Are people unaware? Are media outlets covering it up?
You dont really think this, do you?
@mellinger It's BS that Mizzou dropped in the BCS. SKC is going to the championship & the Chiefs will beat the Broncos.— Jordan Atchison (@J_MA23) November 11, 2013
There is, basically, no difference between Nos. 7, 8 and 9 in the BCS standings. Mizzou is .0088 points behind No. 8 Auburn.
And if they can win out, theyll move up.
Uh, Terry, were here to talk about chicken wings and sports. Not deep stuff like this.
But since you asked off the top of my head Dale Earnhardt Jr. to drive and generally cause ruckus with, John Krakauer to talk reporting and writing with, and Dave Chappelle to drink beer and laugh with.
Thatd be a hell of a day.
@mellinger Marcus Cooper is better than Brandon Flowers. Right?— Scott Rodgers (@ScottyByNature) November 11, 2013
This year, absolutely. But Brandon Flowers has been a very good cornerback in this league since, literally, before Cooper ever played the position. Im also curious if the injury that forced him out a few games early this season has been bothering him. Thats worth something, but right now, yeah, Cooper is better than Flowers.
Hes the best cornerback on the team, really, and to me, John Dorseys crowning achievement with the Chiefs so far^.
^ Just because the Alex Smith trade was so obvious.
Kansas not winning, only because Marcus Smart came back to school. Look, I think Missouri is underappreciated nationally. I also thought Alabama mayve been a little overestimated, but they were pretty impressive the other night against LSU, especially in the fourth quarter.
Missouri beating Alabama is a bigger upset than Oklahoma State beating Kansas, is what Im saying.
@mellinger noting Santana wants 100 million plus. Where do royals go from here?— Braden Clark (@braden_8clark) November 11, 2013
Bob Dutton had a nice piece about this yesterday, specifically mentioning Tim Hudson, Phil Hughes and Josh Johnson. Hudson has history with the Braves, which always seems like a good way for guys to get to the Royals, and Hughes has history with Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland.
Depending on the money, Id be in favor of any of those. They all make sense, and Im a bit of a gambler, so Id especially like to see the Royals take a chance that Josh Johnson can be healthy because that guys a stud.
Im only including this question to say that if the Braves really are asking for $450 million in public funding to replace a 17-year-old stadium, it is the most brazen, ridiculous, insulting and illogical example yet of an owner asking for taxpayer money to build something that will stack its own private profit sheet.
Stay strong, Atlanta (or Marietta, or whatever). Dont do it.
Well, looking at the calendar, looks like the fighting Weisses will have chances against West Virginia, at Iowa State and K-State this year, then Texas, at West Virginia, Oklahoma State, at Texas Tech and Baylor next year before the NBA season starts.
The most winnable game of the bunch is this weekend against West Virginia at home, actually. I dont know, man. This is a hell of a question.
But Ill go with the Weisses, just because, cmon.
@mellinger During your visit were you able to find out what the true meaning of "San Diego" is?— T.J. Huettenmueller (@Thuettenmueller) November 11, 2013