Don't Kill The Mellinger

Chiefs 19, Chargers 7: Insta-reaction!

Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (above) fumbled the ball into the end zone, but teammate Travis Kelce picked it up for a touchdown in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium.
Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (above) fumbled the ball into the end zone, but teammate Travis Kelce picked it up for a touchdown in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium. THE KANSAS CITY STAR

The biggest thing, obviously, was whether the Chiefs could roll a string a 7s and sneak into the playoffs like it was 2006. They did not, which is what they deserved.

The next biggest thing was whether Justin Houston would break Derrick Thomas' franchise record of 20 sacks in a season. He did, which is what he deserved.

And the next biggest thing was how Chase Daniel looked and he gave a really good performance, validating his high price tag for a backup quarterback. Daniel looked in control, confident, calm. Made strong throws. He could start for some teams, at least based on what we've seen these last two Week 17s against the Chargers.

Not that he was perfect, and his performance is something we might get into with more detail during the week, but the Chiefs would do well to hold onto him, assuming the price doesn't go too high.

And, no, he is not better than Alex Smith. Stop saying that.

Most of the attention on Justin Houston has been about his pass rushing, and that's the way it should be. He's relentless, and better at it than perhaps anyone in the league not named J.J. Watt. But he's really come a long way in the rest of his game, too. Sets the edge well in the run game, is effective dropping into coverage, and doesn't miss tackles. He obviously has every motivation to have the season of his life, but I don't think he's ever played a game at anything less than full effort.

Nobody wants to hear it, and there were obviously plenty of other misses, but that's a great draft pick by Scott Pioli.

Because this is something we'll talk more about soon: the Chiefs are staring at a really tight salary cap this offseason. Some headline type moves are going to have to be made with big-number guys like Dwayne Bowe, Tamba Hali, perhaps even Eric Berry.

I'm of the opinion that Jamaal Charles is playing hurt, and has been for a few weeks. I think that's why he hasn't been used as much recently, and why he hasn't been as explosive as we're used to seeing. But in the fourth quarter, he made a cut on a reception in the flat that was like what an alien would do. The play should've been a four or five yard loss, instead it was a five-yard gain.

There is no way you can convince me that's not Darren Sproles in Brandon Oliver's jersey.

You simply cannot make up this thing about the wide receivers and touchdowns. At some point, and I think it was in the last week or two, the no-TD-for-a-receiver thing went from black mark to hilarious. And either way, it was going to be fun to watch Chase Daniel quarterback the last game and see if he could end this entirely irrelevant but strangely captivating streak. And either way, there is no way you could have imagined Dwayne Bowe fumbling an inch from the goal line, and the ball picked up by a tight end, the Chiefs having the touchdown and this inconsequential streak being preserved.

Behold, the awesomeness:

Reasonable minds can disagree, but that's my favorite non-WR touchdown of the year, just ahead of the pass intended for Bowe that Fasano caught off the deflection while seated on his hind parts for a touchdown. Albert Wilson's dive that came up just short is honorable mention.

A lot of people don't agree, but Sean Smith is having a good year. It's very hard to play cornerback in the NFL right now, and Smith is such a good fit for what the Chiefs like to do with their corners. But along with the offensive line and wide receivers, depth at cornerback has to be a priority for the Chiefs this offseason. Whenever Chris Owens lines up in the slot, it's like an invitation for a good quarterback and receiver to go for 20 yards or so on a wheel route.

Depending on how you feel about what probably would've been another one-and-done playoff appearance, this season's blown opportunity was in Oakland or in the season opening limp showing against the Titans at home.