With the San Diego Chargers’ loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs’ win against the Tennessee Titans, the Chiefs are now in the playoffs! I now declare the rebuilding process over! Sure, the Chiefs could take steps backwards next year and not make the playoffs due to injuries or a tougher schedule. Sure, the team is still young. However, they have been rebuilt and are a real NFL team now.
The last game of the season has the Oakland Raiders travelling to Arrowhead Stadium. If the Raiders win, they go 6-0 in the division. If the Chiefs win, they go 8-0 at home. More importantly, the Chiefs can clinch the #3 seed with a win or an Indianapolis Colts loss. The debate has been rolling along all week between resting the players and playing the full squad. Forget momentum and forget the non-existent rivalry between the Chiefs and the Raiders. If the Chiefs are playing to win today, it’s because the Chiefs are going for the #3 seed.
That is the most important goal for today. It gives the Chiefs a better chance to play the New York Jets rather than the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Baltimore Ravens and a win next week would keep the team away from the New England Patriots for another week. I would like nothing more than to rest the players but there is still something worth playing for.
Kansas City Chiefs 34 Tennessee Titans 14
This game was over quick and that is due to the Chiefs playing good football from the opening kickoff on. The offense was clicking, the defense was bothering Kerry Collins and sticking to the Titans’ wideouts. The offense had their best showing of the season. What stands out is the Chiefs’ possession time (39:04) and the offense showed that they kept the ball moving and kept the ball out of Kerry Collins’ hands.
While I don’t have much to say about the game because everything went the Chiefs’ way, I do want to comment on Brodie Croyle’s stint. An incompletion on a horizontal pass and an interception on a pass behind Dwayne Bowe bought Croyle a spot back on the bench. Making a case for Croyle at this point is a thing of the pass but it is hard to even sell him as a back-up at this point.
Pro Bowl Stars and Snubs
Congratulations to Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and Brian Waters for making the Pro Bowl. In my opinion, this is fine with me. Sure, there are cases for Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson but they will get theirs eventually. For now, I am fine with only three players participating in a meaningless friendly game where they can still get hurt. If I were a GM or a coach, I would ask the Pro Bowlers on my team to consider taking a pass on the game. It’s still up to the player of course but the honor is to be voted in.
The game is in Hawaii again, so I would be hard-pressed to pass it up if I were a player. I don’t begrudge any player who sits the game out.
The Enigmatic Raiders Visit Arrowhead Stadium
The Raiders have nothing left to play for except for a perfect division record, their coach’s job (Tom Cable might already be done) and pride. When the Raiders are off, they can be a pushover. When they are on, however, they can blow their opponents away. I don’t think they are as dirty as their reputation suggests but they could still be out for blood like any NFL team will be. There is no good way to determine who should play and who should sit for the Chiefs. The way the game plays out may make it easy for Todd Haley or it may have him making some tough calls.
The most important player the Chiefs have to lock down is KR/WR Jacoby Ford. Forget Marc Mariani, Ford can take it to the house as he did when the Chiefs went to Oakland and last week vs. the Colts. Sure, the Raiders have a good running game and they can move the ball in the air. They sure do a lot better when Ford returns a kick or a punt for a TD.
If I were to give three players sparse or light playing time, they would be Jamaal Charles, Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali. Yes, Jamaal Charles can win the rushing title today but having JC healthy with this chance to win the Super Bowl is more important than a rushing title. From the interviews I’ve heard, JC concurs and I am inclined to believe what he says. Flowers and Hali can play here or there but they can stay on the sidelines, especially if the Chiefs or the Raiders have ran away with the game.
I would love to give Matt Cassel the game off because they need him as well but the Chiefs can’t afford to do that. I don’t think that the Chiefs will come away with a win in this game. The most important result of this game is the health of the players. If the Raiders go 6-0, so be it and good for them. The Chiefs will take their 2-4 division record to the playoffs and forget about the Raiders. I am thinking it will be close but the Chiefs will fall short, yielding to risk aversion.