Monday, December 17, 2018

Chiefs-Chargers: Point/Counterpoint

Point: The Chiefs really screwed up their season by choking away the Chargers game. 

Classic Chiefs. A few years ago, they collapsed in the playoffs vs the Colts. Last year they collapsed in playoffs vs the Titans. This time they collapsed with the #1 seed within their grasp. They now have the same record as the Chargers and if they shit the bed against the Raiders, the Chargers will own the tiebreaker. They could have clinched the #1 seed in week 15 and now can't even do that in week 16. If they Chargers win the division, the Chiefs drop to the #5 seed and will have to play every playoff game on the road and don't get a bye. They were one play away from resting up. This kills their playoff hopes.

Counterpoint: The Chiefs season is going to be just fine. 

Comebacks happen. The previous week the Chiefs came back vs the Ravens. The Patriots gave up a last second miracle lateral play to the Dolphins. The Bears choked away the week 1 game vs the Packers and still won their division. These things happen. The Chiefs are still in a good position. Normally at this time of year, the Chiefs have to win out and hope for other teams to lose to try to get in or get a bye. This time if they win both they secure home field. If the Chargers lose to the Ravens, the Seahawks game doesn't matter. If they lose to the Broncos, the Raiders game doesn't matter.

Normally, when the Chiefs have a huge collapse, it's in the playoffs and they have to think about it all offseason. Now they have a chance to go out and redeem themselves. They had tough losses to the Patriots and Rams but were able to come back the following week and win. If the Chiefs were bound to have a choke, better to get out of the way in the regular season, not the playoffs.

Besides, it's probably better to play through week 16 and week 17 competitively, and earn a bye, than to rest starters in the regular season anyways. Eric Berry has two more weeks of regular season to shake the rust off before we really need the defense to be at a top level.

Point: This shows the Chiefs can't win the big games. 

They lost to the Patriots, Rams and Chargers. Against good teams in close games, the Chiefs don't have what it takes.

Counterpoint: Not so fast. 

They beat the Chargers and Steelers and Broncos, all on the road. They broke the Jaguars. They broke the Bengals. Hell, they even seem to have broken Goff and the Rams. They've won close games, comebacks and blowouts. Every team has bad losses.

Point: This one stings though, right?

To be so close and to choke it away to a division rival?

Counterpoint: Sure. 

It stings. It may prove fatal. But first of all, they're not even a rival. Second, The Chiefs are 9-1 vs the Chargers in their last 10 games. The Chargers are printing up shirts just for beating the Chiefs in the regular season. We're okay. Plus, no regular season game will ever hurt more than week 2 of 2015. That's when the Chiefs were beating the Broncos by 7, gave up a last minute touchdown and then Charles fumbled away the game in regulation, when I was living in Denver and the Broncos would go on to win the Super Bowl, in part because that win earned them the #1 seed. If the Chargers steal the #1 seed and go on to win the Super Bowl, that will sting but I'm not living in LA, so it still won't be as bad as 2015.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Uncharted Territory

I've opened a lot of blog posts to write about the Chiefs. I've never been here.

For starters, the Chiefs are the favorite to go to the Super Bowl in the AFC.
With 3 games to go, they are in a fantastic position to get the #1 seed.
And just for good measure, Mahomes is the favorite to win MVP.

Here's something I've never even had to think about before...was is the best regular season in Chiefs franchise history?

1966. They went 11-2-1 in 14 games for a winning percentage of .821 and went to Super Bowl I.

The best they've done in a 16 game schedule is 13-3 (.813). But 14-2 (.875) is in play. That's right. Mahomes first year as the starter in KC and all of this in play.

- - -

The Chiefs only chance of getting the #1 seed this century was 2003. Both the Chiefs and Pats were 11-2 with 3 games to play.

This year, well it could get really complicated if they lose tonight and really simple if they win, but they're not losing, so let's just skip this part for now and say they're in good shape.

- - -

How did we get here? A whole season just like the Ravens game. That was the most thrilling win of the season, with the other thrilling games coming in their 2 losses.

It featured among other things, a wicked side-arm in a tight window, a freaking no-look pass and a 4th and 9 heave that of course found it's way into Tyreek Hill's arms. All our lives we watch sports and think that we have a chance even if we're down a touchdown and facing 4th and long. And all our lives we realize that's a bad position to be in. And then one day your team drafts Patrick Mahomes and suddenly there's no such thing as a position where you don't have faith in him.




Which brings us to tonight...

let's see anything going on tonight....

Chiefs are wearing red on red

it's a primetime game at Arrowhead

it's a divisional game with the AFC West on the line

Chiefs are riding a 9-game win streak over the Chargers

the Chiefs are inducting Tony Gonzalez into the Ring of Honor and I'm betting he'll be beating the drum during pre-game introductions

and it's the season debut of Eric Berry

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

AFC Champ QBs

Since 2001 when Tom Brady entered the league, here's a list of AFC Championship appearances by QB:

Brady: 12
Manning: 5
Roethlisberger: 5
Flacco: 3
Sanchez: 2
Stewart: 1
Gannon: 1
McNair: 1
Plummer: 1
Rivers: 1
Luck: 1
Bortles: 1
Trent Green/Matt Cassel/Alex Smith: 0

- - -

A few takeaways:

  • Brady is to date, 12 out of 17 for making the AFC title game. 
  • Brady has more than Manning, Roethlisberger and Rivers combined. 
  • For all the comments about how Rivers is underrated and jokes about Flacco being elite, Flacco has a leg up on him. 
  • The Sanchez, Plummer and Bortles appearances makes the Chiefs absence that much more painful. 
  • Obviously, the team around you shouldn't be overlooked. Roethlisberger has 5 while Rivers only has 1, with their career stats being comparable. 
  • Extrapolating to what I really care about, if Mahomes is on the level of Roethlisberger/Rivers the range of AFC title appearances could be 1-5. If Mahomes is on the level of Brady/Manning, the range could be 5-12. 
  • As for Super Bowl appearances, it's Brady 8, Manning 4, Roethlisberger 3, Gannon 1, Flacco 1. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

What have you got to lose?

The Chiefs scored a TD on 3 plays vs the Cardinals.
They scored on their first 3 drives vs the Cardinals.

And yet at the end of the 3rd quarter, the Cardinals had the ball down only 14-20. They had a 4th and 1 from their own 29. There's 16 minutes left in a game that you've never had the lead. You're 2-6. You're options are try to pick up one yard to keep a drive alive to try and take the lead or give the ball back to Mahomes, Hill, Kelce, Hunt.

The Cardinals punted and never scored again. (I'm glad they did. Just saying.) Now they're 2-7.


The Race for #1

At the start of the year, the Chiefs weren't even the favorite to win their division. Now there's 6 games left before the playoffs and I'm sitting here writing a post about the #1 seed in the AFC.

First, we have to go back. The last time the Chiefs were the #1 seed in the AFC was 1997. They were eliminated by the Broncos who would go on to win the Super Bowl. (The other two teams in the divisional round? Patriots and Steelers.)

The last time the Chiefs played in the AFC Championship? 1993. It's also the only time since we're not counting the AFL Championship in 1970. That team had Joe Montana and Marcus Allen and won two playoff games before losing to Buffalo.

The last time the Chiefs were in this position, with a clear path to the #1 seed was 2003. Through ten games they were 9-1. The Patriots were 8-2. The Chiefs finished 13-3 but the Patriots won out and got the #1 seed. As #2, Chiefs had to face Manning and the Colts while the Patriots hosted McNair and Eddie George on the Titans. (That Chiefs team had Trent Green, Priest Holmes, Dante Hall and Tony G.) That's a long time ago. And yet, in 2018 and in 2003, the Chiefs are battling Tom Brady for home field advantage in the playoffs.

- - -

At this point, lots of things could happen. The Chargers only have one more loss than KC and get to face to the Chiefs one more time. So it's possible the Chiefs could finish 13-3 and be the 5th seed. (Might even be possible to finish 14-2 and be the 5th seed depending on tiebreakers with the Chargers.) But for now, let's assume the Chiefs will win the division.

Based on their schedules, I think the Steelers will drop a couple games and be the #3 seed. In my head, it's a race between the Chiefs and Pats for the top two seeds. The loser gets to face the Steelers in the divisional round. The winner gets one of Chargers/Texans/Bengals/Titans or worse. Plus, the home field in a potential AFC title game.

The Pats losing to the Titans on Sunday was huge. That gives New England two more losses than the Chiefs. Pats have the tiebreaker so the Chiefs margin for error is one game.

That's what makes the MNF game vs the Rams so important. Not because it's a potential Super Bowl matchup. Every game is important. The Chiefs have a one-game cushion. Lose on Monday and it's gone.

Monday, October 22, 2018

6-1.

There are two types of playoff teams. The ones fighting for top seeds and the ones fighting to make it in at all. Brady's Patriots have been the first kind basically every year. The Chiefs are not used to this.

But here we are.

Last night, the Bengals left Arrowhead looking like frauds. They're now 4-3 and no one's confident in them winning their division. Meanwhile the Chiefs are 6-1. And after a brutal schedule, they now get to face 3 losing teams in a row.

13-3 is very much in play.

The Chargers are sticking around and have potential to steal the division away, but this is still a wide open AFC. I mean, a team like the Dolphins doesn't see it as wide open. But for the Chiefs...this offense and special teams are for real. If we can get our Pro Bowl defenders back for the playoffs...

The AFC Championship seems like it will be Patriots vs Chiefs and I'm just hoping it's in Arrowhead. How crazy is this for year 1 of the Mahomes era?

- - -

Last week, I said I love, love this game for the Chiefs. I wasn't scared of the Bengals in the slightest. Feels good to be validated.

Monday, October 15, 2018

This is what Mahomes losing feels like

At halftime, doubt creeped in. The Chiefs had needed a comeback in Denver. Mahomes threw two picks vs the Jaguars. And now Mahomes had thrown two picks in the first half in New England. Maybe teams had figured him out. Maybe Belichick is just on another level and the Chiefs just can't compete with them.

And then the Chiefs scored 31 points in the second half. Including a 67 yard pass to Hunt and a 75 yard pass to Hill. 

If the Chiefs had gotten blown out 41 to 9, I'd feel a lot differently. Instead, I think this is the game that defines the season. And I'm excited. 

- - -

Here's the playoff standings after 6 games:


Last night showed that the Chiefs are for real. They are not a 5-0 fraud. They're going to be competing for the playoff bye and hopefully home field advantage. And they made it through an insanely tough schedule with the best record in the AFC. Yes, the Patriots now hold the tiebreaker. So the Chiefs have to stay 1 game better if they want to avoid going to Foxborough in January. In other words, to get the #1 seed the Chiefs have to match the Patriots over the next 10 weeks. Just like they matched them to a 40-40 game with 3 minutes left. 

This I think should give the Chiefs a purpose and direction. (While I would have loved the 6-0 vs 3-3 outcome, that would have perhaps given a sense of complacency. That is not the case now.) The Chiefs should be encouraged and motivated. Every game counts. 

Chiefs Remaining Schedule
Games vs teams with winning records: 4
Games vs teams with losing records: 5
Games vs teams with tied record: 1

Patriots Remaining Schedule
Games vs teams with winning records: 4
Games vs teams with losing records: 2
Games vs teams with tied records: 4

- - -

Assuming there is a rematch with the Patriots (in likely the AFC Championship) here's what needs to happen. The Chiefs defense needs to allow less than 39 points. Or the Chiefs offense needs to score more than 44 points. Both are possible. 

Mahomes left points on the board. On their first two field goal drives, he had guys open for touchdowns. Plus the two picks. Those are plays in the second half he makes. First time going against Belichick, first time in New England, first time on Sunday Night Football...and his first half he missed a few throws. By the second half, he was making plays. 

This Chiefs defense was injured. 4 guys on defense didn't suit up: Berry, Houston, Murray, Kpass. In the playoffs, we'll need a healthy Berry and Houston, and that would change a ton. 

Even so, a 3-point loss on the road to the best franchise of the last 20 years isn't a bad loss. There's a lot to be motivated by. 

- - - 

Some other positives. Now the Rams are the last undefeated team. As I wrote earlier this week, I think that hurts a team. You start getting a big head, there's this pressure that mounts each week, you start getting questions about resting your starters or going for 16-0, comparisons to past teams...it's a distraction.

I also feel like it's easier for a team to get motivated in the playoffs when they've been beaten by that opponent in the regular season. (Going against a Belichick team that is seeking revenge is a scary thought.)

Next week, the Patriots have to go on the road to face Khalil Mack and the Bears. I've got a feeling Andy Reid will be calling his buddy Nagy in Chicago with tips on how to beat the Patriots. 

And the Chiefs get a second try on Sunday Night Football vs the Bengals. This time it's at Arrowhead. The Bengals are 0-7 on SNF. The Chiefs are 6-0 against the spread this year and they're favored by 6 points. I love, love the Chiefs this week. Getting a second chance on SNF at home is perfect.

If the Patriots (4-2) finish 13-3, that would require the Chiefs to finish 14-2. There's no margin for error. But Mahomes has proven he's up for the challenge. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

a magic trick

The Pledge


The Turn


















The Prestige


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Name a More Iconic Duo: NFL Edition

Lions + players retiring in their primes
Browns + a top-3 draft pick
Vikings + missing kicks in the playoffs
Chargers + missing kicks all the time
Colts + landing ass-backwards into franchise QBs
Bills + losing Super Bowls
Bears + defense is their best offense
Chiefs + regular season success followed by choking leads in the playoffs
Falcons + choking a lead in the super bowl

KC Indulgent Foods

I've done posts where I research food picks of different cities or list my favorite restaurants in Denver, so this will be similar for Kansas City. But instead of being comprehensive about the city, it's more focused on "cheat meal" foods—any foods that don't fit into my healthy eating weight loss plans. So some will be just general foods and some will be specific to KC restaurants.


BBQ from Q39 and Slap's

Burger with Merkt's Cheddar and Smoked Shallot Bacon Jam from McCoy's

Super Hero at Planet Sub or anything at Jersey Boyz

Patatas Bravas and Brussels Sprouts at Louie's Wine Dive

SmokeShack at Shake Shack

Bacon Cheeseburger pizza at Godfather's

Indian Buffet at India Palace on 87th St

Tapas at La Bodega

Yellow Brickle Road ice cream from Sylas and Maddy's

Combo Italian Beef and Sausage at Chi Town Original

Anything from Beer Kitchen. Short rib grilled cheese is great. Don't forget the thai chili sauce.

Biscuits & Gravy from anywhere I suppose

I think it would be better for the Chiefs playoffs hopes if they weren't the last undefeated team. That adds pressure and history, and the inevitable mentions of undefeated Dolphins. So I'd like the Rams to take that role this year.

But...as I mentioned before, this game is huge implications for the #1 seed. The difference between 6-0 vs 3-3 with the tie breaker and 5-1 vs 4-2 without the tiebreaker is massive. So it's better for the Chiefs to win this week...and next week too. I guess I can't find a game that I want them to lose.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Professional Teams that have Won a Game since September 17, 2018

NFL
Bears
Bengals
Bills
Browns
Cardinals
Chiefs
Chargers
Cowboys
Dolphins
Eagles
Giants
Jaguars
Jets
Lions
Packers
Patriots
Panthers
Ravens
Rams
Raiders
Saints
Steelers
Seahawks
Saints
Texans
Titans
Vikings
Washington


MLB
Dodgers
Brewers
Yankees
Red Sox
Astros
Rockies
Indians
Phillies
Angels
Twins
Mariners
Pirates
Mets
Padres
Rays
Cubs
Royals
Cardinals
Reds
Nationals
Diamondbacks
A's
Braves
Marlins
Blue Jays
Orioles
Rangers
White Sox
Tigers
Giants


Notable Teams that have Not Won a game since September 17, 2018
Broncos

5-0

If you were betting that I wouldn't write about the Chiefs starting the Patrick Mahomes era 5-0, you should have just lit that money on fire.

- - -

How good has the Andy Reid era been? In each of the 6 seasons he's been the head coach in KC, the Chiefs have had a 5-game winning streak. This year is the third time they've started 5-0.

But it's not just that they're 5-0.

They beat the Chargers on the road, the predicted AFC West champs.
They beat the Steelers on the road, the one team that's had the Chiefs number.
They beat the 49ers who came in 1-1 with a healthy Jimmy G.
They beat the Broncos on Monday night in Mile High.
They beat the Jaguars and their #1 ranked defense.

That's a murderer's row. You could be a good team and come out of that schedule 1-4.

Also, the Chiefs now own tiebreakers over Steelers and Jaguars, which just might be important come January.

- - -

Now the Chiefs have to play New England on the road. Even if they lose, they'll still be in first place in the AFC. So that's where we're at now. Mahomes has been the starter for 5 games and we're talking about the #1 seed.

- - -

If I was a Jags fan, I would be pissed.

This game was a complete mixed bag.

On the one hand it was 30-7 in the 4th quarter and Chiefs were just trying to end the game. On the other hand...the Jags recovered on an onside kick in a 2-possession game. And then had two possessions that went into the red zone.

In fact, let's look at how many times the Jags blew this game. I'm not going to count punts—I'm talking more blatant failures.

Down 10-0, the Jags had 3rd and 1 at the KC 3. Incomplete pass. They go for it. Incomplete pass. I think it's the right call to go for it. But when you don't get it...those points would have come in handy.

The D even forced a Mahomes interception. They had the ball at the KC 41. But then a strip sack gives the ball back to the Chiefs.

Then it was 13-0 just before the first half. The game certainly not out of reach. And then Bortles throws a pick-6.

Then they drive down the field and are in the red zone at the end of the first half, when Bortles throws it off his lineman's helmet and Chiefs pick it off.

Fast forward to 30-7 in the 4th quarter. Jags get to the KC 22 and Bortles forces it into coverage and it's picked off again.

And after all that, it's a 2 possession game and they have 2 possessions that get to the red zone. On turnover on downs, another last second pick.

Bortles had 5 turnovers. That pick six was deadly.

- - -

Patriots are a 3 point favorite at home. Yet another big game. If New England wins they're only a game behind KC in the standings and would own the tiebreaker. If KC wins, they're 6-0, Patriots are 3-3 and Chiefs own the tiebreaker.

Regular season Reid's Chiefs are 2-0 vs Patriots. 41-14 in Arrowhead in 2014 and 42-27 in Foxborough last year. So the trend would be that Mahomes & Co. puts up 43 this year.

Seriously...Alex Smith put up 41 and 42 on the Pats. The over/under is 58.5 this week. I'm taking the over.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

AFC Playoff Picture at 1/4 Season Mark

First, the standings. And they are tasty.





I know, I know it's super early. But that no playoffs section is sweet. Okay, let's take a look at the serious teams. 

I think the Dolphins are a fraud and won't make the playoffs. Patriots should be the only AFC East team. 

Titans and Jaguars both look strong. I think the Jaguars are the favorite, Titans wild-card team probably. 

Bengals and Ravens off to a good start too. 

If you take the top records and swap the Dolphins for the Patriots, those are the 6 favorites. At this point I think these are your 4 division winners:

Chiefs
Jaguars
Patriots
Bengals/Ravens

Titans as wild card. Plus non-division-winner of Bengals/Ravens. 

- - -

Why am I doing this now?

Here's the Chiefs next three games:

home for Jaguars
road for Patriots
home for Bengals

(They also get the Ravens at home in December. And as for the NFC, they play the only other undefeated team—the Rams—in Mexico City on MNF, 11/19.)

So this next 3-game stretch will show us a lot. 

Starting 4-0 was optimistic and they did that. I think they can beat the Bengals at home. So even if they lost to Jags and Pats, they could be 5-2 and on track for a playoff bye. We know how critical the bye is, and we know the Jags and Pats are teams that will be vying for those top 2 spots. So a tiebreaker is huge. 

As for the Jags game...Chiefs are 3 point favorites. The Jags are a bad matchup for the Chiefs. Tough D and their offense can run or pass through the bad KC defense. This one could go either way. 

The Patriots is always a tough game. Still the team you fear the most. The Chiefs have had their number in the Andy Reid era, and this year's Pats had a slow start...but they're getting Edelman and Gordon up to speed. Pats should be favored. 

1-1 is the safest bet, but 0-2 or 2-0 is very much in play. 

I know that I'll be rooting against Jags, Pats, Bengals, Ravens, Titans in every game they play, hoping for a top playoff seed.