The last time I checked in here at the Addict was prior to the season, when I predicted an 8-8 Chiefs record with major upside. Turns out I was right, just not right enough. It also looks like my proposed Weiss-Vick possibility has absolutely no chance of happening now that Sidney Greenstreet’s found a new Humphrey Bogart and Michael Vick looks to be as permanent of a fixture in Philly as cheesesteaks. As far as the Chiefs exceeding expectations, here’s that story.
The Chiefs schedule was easier than we anticipated.
The Chiefs top-end talent — Brandon Flowers, Derrick Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel and Tamba Hali — was better than advertised.
The caliber of a team’s coordinators obviously makes a world of difference in the NFL.
The Arrowhead Advantage makes a huge difference when the Chiefs are worthy of the price of admission.
Also, while I do think some of the Chiefs’ success was in spite of Todd Haley (he made terrible, indefensible decisions all season long), I can’t chalk it all up to luck or even schedule. In fact, if Jacoby Ford drops that hail mary in Oakland and Andre Johnson gets flagged for offensive pass interference, the Chiefs win two more games. Let’s not even talk about Bowe leaving his hands back in Kansas City for the trip to Indianapolis. Bad teams don’t win 10 games regardless of division — just look at the NFC West.
Let’s get this out of the way now, because someone needs to say it. The Raiders loss was a meaningless one. The fans knew it, the players knew it and the rest of the organization was too busy rejoicing the money to be saved on catering bills with Charlie Weiss headed to Florida (he’s sure to bring new meaning to the name “Gainesville”). This “but they were playing for the No. 3 seed” argument doesn’t hold up either. There’s not much difference between the Jets and Ravens, and there’s little chance that the Chiefs wouldn’t have to win in New England and then at Pittsburgh, or vice versa, in order to make the Super Bowl. The Raiders were playing for a perfect 6-0 record in the division and to end their season on a high note. Plus, who knows if Al Davis will live to see another win, or even if he’s actually still alive? The Raiders had way more motivation, and during the NFL’s regular season the more desperate team wins 90% of the time.
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
By the way, if the Chiefs stick with last week’s pass-blocking style and protect Cassel like my grandmother would (hey, she lives in K.C., she’s available), our favorite team will continue to cause us postseason heartbreak. Branden Albert and Brian Waters need to step it up and perform like they had previously been.
Do the Evolution
On paper, the Chiefs should be a younger, more spry version of the Ravens. Eric Berry could one day be the new Ed Reed. Charles is a better version of Ray Rice. Bowe is Anquan Boldin 2.0. Matt Cassel and Joe Flacco have very similar games and have been starters for about the same amount of time (even though Cassel has the better wheels). While Ray Lewis is perhaps the greatest middle linebacker to ever strap on a helmet, D.J. possesses more sheer, natural talent. Tamba Hali even out-sacked Terrell Suggs this season. That being said, while the playoffs are uncharted waters for these Chiefs, the postseason is familiar territory for the Ravens. We’ll find out this weekend if the Chiefs are ready to take the next step in their evolution and overtake the Ravens as the most formidable ground-and-pound AFC team.
World Wide Suicide
Speaking of the future, it better be now because next season the Chiefs play a rogue’s gallery of non-AFC West teams that would make Batman soil his spandex. Unless the Chiefs import a great draft class and free agent group, winning double-digit games will be a feat that will be difficult to repeat. With the Chiefs locked in to play both the Colts and Steelers — two elite teams the Chiefs’ AFC West foes don’t face at all — the 2011 schedule looks like a suicide mission.
Speaking of free agents, I’d like to see James Jones and Logan Mankins (who was on the Vincent Jackson plan this year) top that list. I could see the Packers and Pats, respectively, letting them walk and both are Pro Bowl-caliber talents who could plug big holes. Expect to see those two names in my yearly Blueprint series, with Jared Gaither/Jermon Bushrod and Jacoby Jones being my back-up options. I could see all of those guys getting let go, and the Chiefs desperately need better men along the offensive line and at opposite Bowe at receiver.
Cassel cannot get rattled by the magnitude of the postseason. If the pressure gets to him, Ed Reed will eat him alive. He’s showed great poise in the past, but he’s never really played in this important of a game at either the collegiate or pro level (the 11-5 2008 Pats missed the playoffs).
Jamaal Charles was essentially one productive carry away from breaking Jim Brown’s yards-per-carry record (6.4 to 6.38). Brown is universally considered to be on of the top five greatest football players of all time. Charles narrowly bested Marshall Faulk’s record for best DVOA season by a RB (35.8% to 35%). Faulk might be the most versatile NFL running back of all time. Here’s hoping that Haley looks back upon the season’s stats and tape and realizes that he is the only person who can stop No. 25. This season, Charles was hands down the best running back in football. He challenged an ultra-productive full-time RB in a great offense (Arian Foster) for the rushing title despite getting the second most carries on his own team. Charles also had to be among the NFL’s five or so best players in 2010 (along with Mr. Bundchen, a reformed former Leavenworth inmate, a Caveman linebacker from Green Bay and a shaggy Head & Shoulders spokesperson). Everybody realizes that the Chiefs road to the Super Bowl goes directly through Charles and that he has to touch the ball 20-plus times on Sunday for the Red and Gold to have success. His initials are J.C. for a reason; when it comes to football, homeboy walks on water. Everybody except Bill Parcells Jr. realizes this by now. He’s got about four more days. And don’t give me that “Thomas Jones keeps him fresh” B.S. either. Charles makes Haley look good, not the other way around.
I Am Mine
It’s a great song and also a befitting track to describe a diva receiver. D-Bowe needs to check his ego at the door, bring his stick ‘um and be more “Show” than talk. If he plays like he did against the Titans, the Ravens will be gone ice fishing. If he plays like he did against the Raiders, his detractors will say “I told you, Bowe.” Anyway, Dwayne will be one of the Chiefs’ four most important players come Sunday, along with Cassel, Charles and Hali. Ed Reed will likely always have one eye on him, but the Ravens corners are beatable. He needs to have a big day.
Charlie Round’s early and untimely departure serves as a reminder that New England coaching and front office products tend to be selfish scumbags. Romeo Crennel seems to be the exception, not the rule. Weiss leaving the Chiefs for Florida in what can’t even be considered a lateral professional move is a huge slap in the face to the entire Chiefs Nation. Am I bitter? Yes. I hope he chokes on a po’ boy sandwich.
Spin the Black Circle/Why Go?
And, finally, if the Chiefs lose on Sunday, it will mark the longest consecutive playoff losing streak in playoff history. Let’s not be that dubious team! Local fans need to show up, support the home team and revive the NFL’s greatest home-field advantage.
Bonus: The Fixer
As for my predictions, I’m predicting Chiefs 27-17 against Baltimore and like them as underdogs with any spread. I’ll take a home team getting 4.7 ypc against an overrated team living off its former rep every time. I also have the Jets upsetting the Colts, a team that would probably be the Bengals if Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer traded places. If that plays out, I think the Chiefs have a great shot to take out the Steelers in PA, setting up a showdown with the Pats in New England. On the NFC side, I like the Falcons and Eagles, with Vick leading Philly back to the big game in Big D (boy, would that kill Jerry Jones). Green Bay doesn’t run well enough to win three games in a row, and Jay Cutler will Favre the Bears out of the playoffs at some point. As for New Orleans, I wouldn’t bet against them, but how much gas can they have left, especially with all their stars dealing with injuries this year? Don’t even get me started on Seattle. They should be sleepless up their after backing into the playoffs with a losing record.
I don’t expect the Chiefs to make the Super Bowl, but they should make some noise. Hopefully. Outside of the Pats, every other team in the playoffs looks very vulnerable, and even the Hoody’s crew seems a bit “smoke and mirrors” to me. They just aren’t that talented on paper. We’ll see how our Chiefs do, but they have a better shot than most the pundits are giving them.