Many NFL writers mock fans for the emotional rollercoaster we put ourselves on during the preseason, when a meaningless win sends us soaring and a meaningless loss has us down in the dumps. Well, guilty as charged. My emotional state and overall work productivity is way down this week compared to last, after our hapless loss to the Rams followed by the excitement of Bowe returning, only to plummet again because of the Tamba incident.
I don’t really care if the experts think the preseason is meaningless. Starters are playing against starters for a quarter, and grown men, fighting for a livelihood, are playing against other grown men playing for the same thing. Both teams are using vanilla playbooks, both teams are worried about injuries and both teams are testing new players. But at this level of performance, that desire to compete and win should be paramount, and that is reflected in the final score.
So yes, I’m bummed by the loss and the Tamba incident. But even so, sitting here halfway through the preseason, the Chiefs are still sitting pretty compared to the rest of the AFC West. Here are a few reasons why.
Divisional Quarterback Comparison
In the first two games, Phillip Rivers has thrown three interceptions and Carson Palmer has thrown two. Palmer had just a miserable second game, going 13-24 for just 107 yards. Even Peyton, who we have to assume will be the best QB in the division, has thrown three interceptions this year, including two in the red zone. What about Cassel? How about 18-24, 209 yards, a touchdown and zero picks? Way to go, Mattie! In all seriousness, Cassel looks to be in 2010 form.
Clearly, the Chiefs want to run the ball this year. And we’re off to great start. We are sixth in the AFC in rushing this preseason, averaging 4.0 yards per carry. Our Western Division counterparts? The Raiders are ninth, The Broncos are eleventh and the Chargers are fifteenth with just 2.2 yards per carry. Anyone who’s seen a Chiefs game this year doesn’t need statistics to prove the point though. Charles is looking fast, Hillis truly is a beast and the offensive line-– left and right side-– are opening up holes that would make Will Shields proud.
Thank God Dwayne Bowe is back! Now Daboll has all of his chess pieces in place. With Bowe, Baldwin and Breaston, our receivers easily top the division. The Raiders’ unit is a bit banged up: Denarius Moore has hamstring issues, Darrius Heyward-Bey has a slight shoulder injury and Jacoby Ford has a sprained foot. The Chargers unfortunately, just lost Vincent Brown for perhaps the entire year with a broken ankle. The Broncos receivers will likely be good, especially with Manning throwing to them. But at least right now, Manning seems to be going first to Brandon Stokely and Jacob Tamme, his old, and older, teammates. The fact that Manning has three interceptions shows that he just hasn’t developed timing yet with Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. I hope you’re noticing too that I haven’t even discussed our tight end triple threat and Dexter McCluster in this section!
Granted, the defense just played horribly last week. But compare the pass rush you’ve seen in these first two preseason games with all of last year. Tamba is as ferocious as ever (I know, I know, the suspension is a killer!). And Justin Houston is living up to the preseason hype. He’s been a monster as a rusher. Easily, we have the best pair of rushers in the division.
The man is a beast. Opponents may start punting on third and short.
What do you think, Addicts? How are we stacking up in the AFC West thus far?