Happy New Year! How ‘Bout Them Chiefs!

The season has ended and guess who’s invited to the ball? Our Kansas City Chiefs that’s who! Now, it’s time to take a look at just who, or whom, it is that we eternal Chiefs fans will be shouting encouragements for as we enter the golden inner circle reserved for the leagues best: the 2013-14 NFL Playoffs.

The Almighty Manning

First of all, we all know which team is the record breaking team: the Denver Broncos. However, using the record breaking regular season as a predictor for post season success… doesn’t mean much. In 2011, Drew Brees had a  record breaking season (the one Manning has broken this year) and in the post season the Saints lost to San Francisco (and Alex Smith) in the second round and didn’t make it to the conference championship game. Then there’s the “perfect” and record breaking Tom Brady and Randy Moss led Patriots of 2007 who lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl. So, setting records in the regular season, doesn’t prove anything in the post season. Winning is the measure.

Division v. Division

When you look at each division and find the category marked DIFF it reflects the total number of points “scored” and “scored against” added together. If you’re a winning team it should show that your team is on the plus side of the ledger. If you evaluate whole divisions this way, the AFC West is clearly the second best division in all of the NFL right behind the NFC West. These two divisions both have three teams all on the plus side of DIFF. In the AFC West you have, Denver +207, K.C. +125 and S.D. + 48 equaling +380 (for just the top 3). In the NFC West you have Seattle +186, San Fran. +134 and Arizona +55 equaling +375. However, upon taking the worst team in of those divisions into consideration (Raiders at -131 and the Rams at -16), and the final totals for the two divisions stack up like this: NFC West +359 and the AFC West +249.

Looking at where the Chiefs have progressed to from a divisional standpoint they appear to be the second best team in the second best division overall and… the second best team in the best division in the AFC. Lofty heights considering last year’s finish.

Pro Bowlers

Who would have imagined that after a 2-14 season in 2012 that the Chiefs would have 6 Pro Bowlers. It would have been difficult to project that the Chiefs would have even more in 2013 but that’s exactly what happened. 8 Pro Bowl players. Not to burst Chiefs fan’s bubble but I was surprised that both LT Branden Albert and CB Brandon Flowers made it to the Pro Bowl this year. Especially Flowers. That being said you have to respect the fact that somewhere out there people believe that the Chiefs deserved an equal number of Pro Bowlers as did the San Francisco 49ers. What does it all mean moving into the playoffs? It means the Chiefs have a number of playmakers, who, when healthy, and on their game, and help to take games over. Like in previous years, the question will come down to the holes in the roster like FS Kendrick Lewis whose play has been nearly abysmal at times and is such a liability that the play making ability of the Chiefs Pro Bowlers is offset by these, shall we say, “holey” rollers… cause that’s just the way they roll.

8 Pro Bowl players is fairly spectacular when you think about the pure numbers. 11 starters on offense and 11 starters on defense and two kickers equals 24. So, the Chief have one-third of all the Pro Bowl players? Yes, I know there are first team and second team players and kick returners are included but the pure volume of players going to Hawaii is impressive. I just hope it’s not troublesome when it comes time to re-sign all these wonderful Pro Bowl performers.

In the final analysis of how the Chiefs are viewed through the Pro Bowl spectrum, the Chiefs have one of the two best rosters in the league. One is in the NFC and the other is in the AFC… and do you see where I’m headed with this? It would be a great Super Bowl in MetLife in February to feature the two teams with the mostest of the boastest: Chiefs vs. 49ers. Smith vs. Kaepernick. Oh the tongues that would wag.

Depth of Thought

When you think about it, the Chiefs haven’t been this deep in years, I can’t remember when. Based on Sunday’s game, although I was hoping loud and clear that the Chiefs would put Tyler Bray in the game at some point, Chase Daniel appears to be the back-up we all hoped he could be. In fact, if Alex Smith goes down, Chiefs kingdom has to feel darn good about what Daniel can come in and do. This renewed confidence in the depth of the Chiefs team extends well beyond the QB position. The performance of second teamers, pushing San Diego first teamers to the limit before relinquishing that win was an amazing feat. In the fourth quarter, you could see some bloggers saying they’d be happy with the outcome of the game no matter the final score because the Chiefs second team had done so well against the Chargers starting unit. That’s saying something. Not only should John Dorsey be recognized as one of the leagues best GMs in his very first season but the coaching ability of Andy Reid and his staff should be heralded as, next to none.

Just a sub-note to the subject of “team depth” is the messy topic of officiating. I normally don’t bring the subject of officiating into question here at AA because I believe it’s a waste of time for the most part. If I have something to say about the rules as a whole I usually address it as a whole post topic. However, it was obvious this game against the Chargers was robbed from the Chiefs by bad officiating and more importantly, they robbed the Chiefs second team of a win. The second team played so well, they didn’t deserve a loss. Too bad we didn’t have a second team kicker to attempt a field goal at the end of regulation.

And the Beat Goes On

The point of developing a solid group superior second teamers is to have a player ready to step in during the absence of a first teamer and… not miss a beat. Several years ago John Dorsey’s Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl with a slew of first team players sitting on the bench. How did that happen? Simple but not easy. Simply put, they had high quality depth. What’s not easy about that is that while finding players with excellent capabilities is step one, developing those players and placing them in positions to succeed is quite another. Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers is case in point: it appears the Chiefs are ready to make playoff run even if a few of their front line players go down. Will they? That’s another issue but, it looks a lot like the Chiefs are depth-ready to do damage in Indy.

A Kick in the Playoff Gut?

Ryan Succop has been the popular whipping boy this week and can you guess how fans in Pittsburgh feel about him, not that any of us care. It’s just that if you’re filled with vile for Ryan’s Hopelessness remember there are those on the outside still looking in who usually are on the inside snubbing their noses at us. And just the thought of that… kinda has me proud of Succop in a weird strange kinda way.  My real concern about Succop at this point is whether or not he’s a choker? The Bleacher Report ranked kickers in the league last week and Succop came in 5th,

Ryan Succop is 11th in the league in scoring with 82 points on 19 field goals and 25 extra points. He’s facing the San Diego Chargers. The Bolts have allowed 16 field goals and 24 extra points.

While I might expect the Chiefs to take a look at another kicker this offseason, Succop appears to be the man for now. I do however question whether or not he has it in him to win the biggest game of all in the last seconds. After his performance in the closing seconds of regulation in Sunday’s game against the hapless Chargers you can’t help but be concerned.

Fresh Juice for the Post Season

As the playoffs begin, it’s important to go in healthy. That’s why anyone tuning in or showing up for the game on Sunday might have been upset to find that only one team was fielding jersey’s with names on them that anyone recognizes. Andy Reid is a smart man. Not only did we get a great look at these back-ups but they got some tremendously needed first team experience. Another important element of being successful in the postseason is making sure your first team players are sharp when they’re needed to be sharp by being fresh when they need to be fresh.

Subbing Powe for Poe early in the game against Indy, so Poe can be his… fast and furious beastly best... in the second half appears more possible now. Getting Parker some reps in the defensive backfield not only seems like a good idea, it might be an improvement. Is there anyone out there that does not want to see Mr. Hemingway becoming a more popular target for Alex Smith? He has done nothing but impress me this season and not just in the Chargers game. He gets open. He hold onto the ball. What else is there to do on his part?  Does anyone want to see Knile Davis ripping through some holes in the first half so JC is fresher in the second half? Even if it’s only 5 extra touches in the first half it would help. Remember JC has 329 touches this year already.

Dance This Dance

Head coach Andy Reid has been here before: the NFL Playoffs. He’s danced this dance. Reid’s playoff record is 10-9 while the Chiefs current roster of players who were here in 2010, the last time the Chiefs made the playoffs, shows that approximately 14 players total have playoff experience from that year. However, I’d say it’s more important that the head coach have that experience than the players. Especially since there are enough players here who can recall what that was like. A post Monday at ESPN.com quotes Reid as saying,

It’s the start of a new season. That’s how the playoffs work, you’re in the dance, as they say. It’s another phase of the season. You’ve worked very hard as a team to get into this position.

This may be a new year and a new team for Andy Reid but there remains the question of whether or not he’s learned some important lessons. Reid was traditionally cited for his poor game management. At the time Reid was fired in Philly, in a post by Vaughn Johnson at Philly.com, Johnson said,

Fans will remember the number of division titles, but they will also remember the number of timeouts wasted at inopportune moments of games.

Can Reid learn? Is the support staff around him going to help with minute-by-minute game management? If this year is any indication, it looks to me like there haven’t been any major issues to speak of. However, we know how the playoffs can intensify things and until you’re in it… you never know how someone is going to react. A concern? No. Something to watch out for? Sure.

Are you Ready for Some (Playoff) Football?

Oh my gosh I can’t tell you how excited I am for this team. They often speak in terms of “family” when speaking about their fellow players. That’s something extra special for a mid-westerner with middle-class values. This is a memorable team and should be enjoyed to the fullest while you get the chance to enjoy them. I last had this feeling ten years ago. Many special players with special skills. A year to remember for sure. Now, to answer the question of whether or not there is something more to this team?

Do I think they have a legitimate shot in Indianapolis? Absolutely. Indoors, with the perfect turf and temp, should provide the Chiefs the chance to show off their speed game. While I believe Reid and staff planned to win the Colts game a couple of weeks ago, they knew they were going to the postseason and began to rest players then. It really is a luxury for teams with wins under their belts by the 14th game in the year, to rest their infirmed. The point is, the team the Chiefs put on the field against Indy game two weeks ago should in no way be associated with the team Kansas City will field this Saturday in Indiana.

It looks like the Chiefs will nearly be at 100%. What more could you ask for on New Year’s Day?

Have a Happy and safe New Year and may it be prosperous for you in every way.

Go Chiefs!

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  • berttheclock

    A year or more ago, many fans were demanding Clark Hunt sell the team, others were screaming about firing all of the coaches, others included firing the GM and cleaning house. Well, Clark Hunt did not sell, but, he did a great job of internal cleaning and the newly reborn Chiefs are poised to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy. So, no reporter in KC will have to ask the question asked, a couple of days ago in Cleveland whether the Browns were run by the Three Stooges. When, one, also, considers the Jags were in the same position as the Chiefs a year ago, it becomes even more amazing how wisdom prevailed in KC. So, ring out “Happy Days are here again”.. Thank you, Mr Hunt for not selling the team and hiring both Andy Reid and John Dorsey.

  • berttheclock

    Funny about our backups. On November 24, the starters on the offensive line gave up 3 sacks and 4 hits on Alex Smith. On December 29, the backups gave up only two sacks, but, did allow 6 hits to Daniels Bringing back the starters is going to do what? Better run blocking by Hudson over Kush, perhaps. But, better pass blocking by Allen over Watkins appears to be a push.

    On defense, the first game presented a major problem when Houston was hurt. But, consider this. The starters had one sack and 4 hits on Rivers. This past Sunday, the backups sacked Rivers 3 times and hit him 6 times. So, bringing back the starters is going to do what? What several of the backups will do to help the rest of the team is having game experience so they can be mixed and matched throughout the game against Indy. More depth will allow more needed rest.

    However, one point about the crowing heard about how well the offensive line is playing. Both Alex Smith and Chase Daniel have had to scramble and, often, have not been able to complete progressions. I have had a picture in my mind for years about a perfect pocket for a passer. it was the one by the Packers when Bart Starr looked akin to Washington standing tall while crossing the Delaware River. Firm and resolute as the pocket did not break. The other was the sliding pocket by the Chiefs, when, Lenny would roll to the side and the pocket would protect him. Once asked about this, Jim Tyrer said the reason they protected Lenny so well was because Lenny did not want his pants to get dirty. We need such an offensive line.

    • Calchiefsfan

      I remember one play distinctly when Lenny went back to pass and couldn’t find anyone open after going through his progressions it seemed like twice. The blocking was so effective that Lenny shrugged his shoulders, brought the ball down and waited a few more seconds until Ed Podolak finally got open. Lenny hit for a first down. Dawson could have pulled up a lawn chair and relaxed he had so much time. We were all laughing in the stands, it was unbelievable.

  • Bosco Cletus

    Speaking of the second team and their effort on Sunday, once the game started and you could tell no starters were gonna play I worried about stupid penalties, late hits out of bounds or on the QB, being that these were guys trying to make every play they could, but they held it together really well. If I remember right they didn’t even get flagged once until into the third quarter. That’s a tribute to the staff as well as the players keeping composure.

  • Chris Tarrants

    It should also be interesting to see if Jenkins has a bigger role this week. He is slowly gaining confidence in himself and last weeks game was hopefully a big boost. Looks like we win round one and two of the 49er trades! Thanks for Smith because you can keep Kaperdinkle, good luck with Baldwin because it looks like Jenkins might actually be something

    • berttheclock

      Fully agree and I believe Palko to Baldwin in Pop Warner Greater Pittsburgh ball will be well followed by the press.

      But, if you first do not succeed, consider Wylie was the lone pick in the 2012 4th round by the Chiefs. Wylie is, now, trying to play for another team, but, Dorsey managed to pickup two 4th round picks from that round on the waiver wire. James Michael Johnson from Cleveland and Howard from the Seahawks. The Howard pick by Seattle was the result of a huge trade up with Andy Reid in Philly, so Seattle could take the wild man pass rusher, Irvin. They gained the 4th pick, also, and took Howard, the DT. Those seven waiver wire pickups was one of finest moves ever made by any GM. BTW, I still believe Marcus Cooper will end up being round three against the Niners.

    • micah stephenson

      Didn’t Koperdinkle take the 49s to the Superbowl last year?

      • Bosco Cletus

        Yeah he did, then became the most over hyped player in the league next to RG3.

      • berttheclock

        You mean the QB , who, at half time, caused Bill Cowher to suggest Alex Smith replace him in the second half? BTW, Alex Smith had a great deal to do with their winning record, last year. Harbaugh wanted the switch due to Kaepernick being a better runner. It was not because Alex Smith was doing a poor job. One other BTW about Kaepernick. There was an early period this season where SF had major problems moving the ball. They had gone away from using Gore and were trying to make the team the Kaepernick Show. It didn’t work and they went back to power running with Gore which opened the game

  • micah stephenson

    I’m glad its the very 1st playoff game cus I can’t wait.

  • Calchiefsfan

    Great article Laddie. Happy new year to ya! Interesting numbers about the NFC West vs. the AFC West. Two points I want to address though.

    I realize the second team played very well against the Chargers but now it’s time for the big boys. Poe has the stamina to play the whole game, especially after a week off. I want this team shutting down Indy from the first snap. So keep Powe on the bench unless needed. Parker on the other hand played well enough that he might have earned his way into some playing time given the recent play of our first stringers.

    As for Succup, he hasn’t been in enough pressure situations yet. The Chiefs have been terrible for the most part since he was drafted. I want to see how he does in a couple more game winning situations before I put him in the Lin Elliot category. I remember Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud blowing the NFL’s longest game against Miami, which was a close second to Elliot’s debacle. It happens.

  • Larry Devore

    I contribute the loss more on the officiating rather than Succop. League issuing an apology for the ref’s blunder in last weeks game.