The Chiefs picked themselves up off the mat Sunday afternoon against the Arizona Cardinals in convincing fashion to reclaim their top spot in the AFC West. Dwayne Bowe put on another spectacular performance.
The Chiefs are 5-0 at home this year and the home field advantage seems to be back at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are assured a winning record at home for the first time since 2006 when they went 6-2 at Arrowhead and clinched the AFC Wild Card. More impressively, the Chiefs put up 31 points without Dexter McCluster or Tony Moeaki.
The offense was deceptively good Sunday. I say deceptively good because the Chiefs were four of 11 on third down conversions and the offensive line struggled at times. Matt Cassel’s jersey stayed clean as he wasn’t sacked all day. Cassel has now put together two consecutive performances in which he was hardly the problem for the Chiefs. No interceptions once again and he and Dwayne Bowe have developed a good chemistry that have turned them into one of the best QB/WR hookups in the AFC.
Bowe once again seems out to prove the critics wrong. Bowe has been more a part of the Chiefs’ successes this year than he has been our failures. Sure you can point to the drops against the Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders as key plays in otherwise what should have been victories for the Chiefs this year. I asked the question earlier to fellow Chiefs Command writer, Tom Fehr on whether or not Bowe is an elite receiver this year. We both agreed that isn’t quite there, but he’s putting himself in the conversation.
Bowe has been a central figure in the Chiefs’ offensive outbursts this season. Against San Francisco he was outstanding. He was great against Denver when he went toe-to-toe with Champ Bailey. Will this team go as far as Dwayne Bowe takes them? Possibly. I still think this season hinges on Matt Cassel’s performance through the rest of the season. Cassel can’t be the scapegoat anymore. After the past two weeks, Cassel hasn’t been the problem. I’ll even make the argument that he hasn’t been the problem for most of the season.
Did you see Derek Anderson today? That is what a terrible quarterback looks like. The Cards probably would have been in that game if Anderson didn’t overthrow his receivers all day long. Cassel outperformed Anderson today, and you could make the argument that Cassel’s performance was the difference today, finding Bowe for several big strikes. Verran Tucker continues to impress me off the practice squad. He had a big third down catch in the fourth quarter. I think Cassel would outperform close to half of the quarterbacks in the league.
Pressure on the quarterback continues to be a problem for this team. Tamba Hali has been absent two weeks in a row for this team and players like Wallace Gilberry and Derrick Johnson have not been there in support. It isn’t as big of a problem as it has been in the past for the Chiefs, but if this team wants to make the playoffs, Romeo Crennel has to figure out a way to get more pressure on quarterbacks.
So we move on to Seattle now. Yet another winnable game on the schedule for the Red, White and Gold. The Chiefs will get a big offensive boost when rookies Dexter McCluster and Tony Moeaki will likely be cleared to play. The last part of this season will tell us more about this team than the first half did. The only true challenges remaining on the schedule for the Chiefs rests in a road game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and a Boxing Day showdown with the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead. Three home games remain for the Chiefs along with three road games. We’ll see what these guys can do. They are close to earning their spot in the playoffs, time to start proving that they deserve it.