Monday, November 18, 2013

(john elway voice) we can win there in november or january. which do you prefer? ...

“Memory.
All alone in the moonlight.
I can dream of the old days;
Life was beautiful then.

I remember
The time I knew what happiness was.
Let the memory? 
Live again.

Every streetlamp
Seems to beat?
A fatalistic warning.

Someone mutters,
And the streetlamp sputters;
And soon it will be morning.

Daylight!
I must wait for the sunrise!
I must think of a new life!
And I mustn’t give in.

When the dawn comes?
Tonight will be a memory too.
And a new day,
Will begin …”

-- “Memory”, from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Cats”, probably best performed by Barbra Streisand (george harrison voice) “all those years ago” … but also perfectly covered by Jason Castro on my favorite season of "American Idol".

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First, let me state up front, the denver broncos won that game last night.  Was the officiating blatantly one-sided?  Of course.  Did the donkeys get away with at least five blatant holding penalties that were never called?  Yes.  Did that determine the outcome of the game?  No.

(But am I furious at the loss, beyond angry at seeing those mother (tr)uckers win yet again against us?  Hell yes I am!)

The Chiefs lost for three reasons – three specific plays, actually, in a ten minute span in the first quarter.  Let’s look at those in order, and then let’s talk about where this season goes from here.

1. Donnie Avery’s drop.

This was huge.  The broncos hit a long field goal on their opening drive, and after a nice swing pass to Anthony Sherman, the Chiefs have it at their own 36, 1st and 10.  Alex Smith drops back, and for the first time in what seems like ages, the Chiefs air it out.

Donnie Avery was open.  He was open.

And he dropped it.

To be fair, it wasn’t the world’s easiest catch to make, but it’s a catch that a professional receiver has to make.  It was in his hands.  There was no defender in the vicinity.  Donnie Avery has to make that catch.  And he didn’t.

The Chiefs first golden opportunity to seize control of this game before denver had a chance to get going, had come and gone.

2. Anthony Sherman’s fumble.

This was simply put, the biggest play of the game.

The Chiefs have just recovered a peyton manning fumble, and are at the broncos 18 yard line, down 3-0, with about five minutes to play in the quarter.  It’s a simple offtackle handoff to the fullback, designed to gain a few yards and take some time off the clock.  And Anthony Sherman fumbles it, the broncos recover it, and the second golden opportunity to seize control early, was whizzed away.

The only two turnovers of the night, were these two fumbles, peyton’s and Sherman’s.  If the Chiefs simply get three on this drive (as they should have – they started at the broncos 18 for God’s sake), this game takes on a whole different look.

3. demaryous thomas burns Quintin Demps for 70 yards.

The Chiefs looked decent the first couple snaps after Sherman’s fumble, and the donkeys have a 3rd and 5 at their own 23.  Which is why this play is utterly inexplicable.

But there is one question this play demands an answer to, and it is this:

What in the name of God is Quintin Demps doing on demaryous thomas?  I mean, that’s as brilliant a proposition as putting me in charge of a liquor store.  Bad things to your bottom line are going to happen, if you put me in charge of the alcohol supply.  And bad things are going to happen if Quintin Demps is guarding one of the best wide receivers in the sport.

I mean, you have Brandon Flowers.  You have Marcus Cooper.  You have Sean Smith.  You have Husain Abdullah (who played a really nice game last night).  You have Dunta Robinson.  You even have Eric Berry, and Kendrick Lewis.  Folks?  All SEVEN of those defenders, are preferable 100 times out of 100, to Quintin Demps being on the receiver.  Especially if that receiver is demaryous thomas.

This truly was the only major brain fart the Chiefs had on defense last night, and it was a big one.  It was a “clear out the room from the stench” brain fart.

Three plays in the first quarter, that determined the fate of the game.

(I should probably point out, Mr. Demps got toasted again on the donkeys touchdown late in the third quarter.  If my name was "Quintin Demps", I'd be very, very worried that whoever the Ray Farmer of this current administration is, asks me to stop by and see him.  And I'd be terrified that I'd be asked, to bring my playbook with me.)

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But those three plays, are why I’m not overly concerned.

Because folks?  If last night is the best denver’s got?  If the broncos can only muster 27 points on a night when peyton manning literally is not touched*, and can only manage a touchdown lead at home entering the fourth quarter, on a night the Chiefs punt in 10 of their first 13 possessions?

Their fans are going to be going home in tears again, come the middle of January.  

(*: maybe I'm slightly confused, but I swear, the NFL Game Center shows zero sacks and zero takedowns, of peyton last night.  And yet, the fumble?  Did he just drop it?  Was I on a beer run to the fridge in the garage when it happened?  You'd think somebody took him out on that play.)

Now for some random thoughts …

* “Bulldog” Bob Sutton had them figured out after their second touchdown drive last night, folks.  I’ve rarely if ever seen peyton manning utterly befuddled, but he was for a large stretch of time in the third quarter.  Hell, the broncos only mounted one serious drive in the last 38, 39 minutes of the game, the touchdown early in the 4th quarter to go up 24-10 (that the Chiefs promptly answered, with a touchdown of their own).

The formation we used?

A 5-0, with six DBs.

No, really -- a 5-0.  And I'm not talking about the crappy remake that airs every Friday night on CBS.

We lined up Hali and Houston on the ends, with Jackson / Poe / Bailey as the interior, for the last forty minutes of the game.  We had Smith / Flowers / Cooper / Demps covering receivers, with Berry and Lewis as the safeties.

Seriously, go back and watch the Chiefs D at any point from about midway through the second quarter on.  The Chiefs were lined in a 5-0 almost 90% of the time, and based on the play, it shifted to a 3-2-6 (on passing plays, Houston and Hali dropped into coverage to flood the zone) or a 5-2-4 (on run plays, Lewis and Berry rushed the line to stuff the gain) once the ball was snapped.

Keep that in mind for the rematch.  peyton managed one touchdown after the switch to the 5-0.  He had two in twelve minutes, against the more traditional 3-4.  

And if "Quintin Demps" wasn't on the field last night, he likely has none, against the 5-0.

* Although to be fair, keep in mind the reason the Chiefs shifted (at least in my opinion) was out of necessity, because Mike DeVito went down early in the second quarter.

* 21 of the last 23 games, the broncos have reached at least 28 points scored.  The only two times they haven't?  They faced the Chiefs.  

The Chiefs held them to 17 at Arrowhead last November, and 27 last night.

If they play on December 1st like they did last night?  denver ain't topping 14, in the rematch.

* The best moment last night had to come during dinner.  While killing time waiting for the game to start, and polishing off some phenomenal Reuben sandwiches and frosty cold Coors Lights, the talk inevitably turned to JFK, since the 50th anniversary of his tragic passing is Friday.  (Note: CBS did a phenomenal look back in “real time” on Saturday night.  If it’s up at cbs.com, take the 45 minutes to watch it.  It’s that damned good.  Even if they somehow did manage to virtually ignore the fact that, you know, the face of the network covering the assassination was a Texan by the name of Dan Rather.)

You people who know me, know that I do not believe in coincidence.  And I also don’t tend to believe conspiracy theories.  Things happen for a reason.  But I have always believed that LBJ had Kennedy taken out.  You will never convince me otherwise.

Up until last night, I haven’t met too many people who agree with me.  (My reasoning?  (1) LBJ and JFK despised each other; LBJ was only on the ticket to (a) carry Texas, and (b) to get him out of the Senate, where as the Majority Leader (which he was when he got the VP nod), he would have opposed a lot of what Mr. Kennedy wanted (namely, tax cuts and a refusal to expand the welfare state).  (2) LBJ was in the same position Mr. Biden is currently in – he obviously can’t pass the man in front of him barring tragedy, and he has no shot at the nomination after eight years, because a heavyweight more beloved than him, will get it instead (RFK in 1968, Mrs. Clinton in 2016).  And (3) LBJ knew Kennedy was in deep trouble in the upcoming election.  If Kennedy had lost, then his career would have been over.)

Anyway, I freely admit, I believe this, but I also freely acknowledge, it’s a crackpot, kook theory.

So imagine my surprise when I offered up my theory (I went second; Russ believes Oswald acted alone – and I do too, in terms of who shot President Kennedy), when every other person in the room, especially Mona (the smartest one), completely agreed with me.  Granted, there were only five other people, but still.

* And actually that was only the second best moment.  The best, was this conversation, when we were analyzing what remained on the season, and what lies ahead:

(mona) so if we’re the top wildcard, we’ll open where?
(stevo) at the lowest division champ.  I’d bet it’ll be Cincinnati.
(russ) Cincinnati!  That’s a doable trip.
(mona) if we open there or Indy, we’re going.
(mona) I don’t care if I have to pay for everyone, our group is going.
(russ) (about to mention the cost) Ever –
(mona) (playfully) Everyone!  Don’t even think about going cheap on me over this, Mr. H!  I’ll divorce you!
(everyone) (laughs all around)

Anyway, if we open at Cincy or Indy, (florida georgia line voice) get your (road trip) on!

* And how frightening is it, that the cost of a ticket to either potential postseason opener, will probably be barely half, of what tickets are going for, for December 1st -- to say nothing of what last night, was going for?

* You all have no idea, how much I regret dropping my extra ticket last offseason, at this point.

Tickets in my section are currently reselling on TicketMaster for $358 for the broncos game.  To put this into perspective, I pay $390 for the entire season in my seat, and face value for my seat for a single game is $54. 

You all have NO idea, how much I regret dropping my extra ticket last offseason, at this point.

* I know there’s still six weeks of the regular season, three of the playoffs, and the Super Bowl to boot, to go in this season … but am I the only one who is 100% confident that either broncos at Chiefs, or Chiefs at broncos, will be one of the four prime-time games, to open the season? 

Especially given that there’s that late Monday night slot that always seems to involve the AFC West?

* Am I the only one who gets scared sh*tless anytime Knile Davis touches the football?  When he took over for Jamaal Charles for a few plays as the Chiefs drove for their field goal, I just kept waiting for the fumble to happen.

* I know Bill Barnwell thinks kicking the field goal from the one was a mistake … but I don’t, believe it or not. 

If we were down 17-3, or 17-0 at that point, I’d agree with him.  But down 17-7, with three minutes in the second quarter and the entire second half to go, I think taking the three was the right decision.

That pulled us to 17-10, and the Chiefs had five straight possessions, with a chance to tie.

* The sack Alex Smith took right before the half, was indefensible.  denver had left us with great field position after missing a 52 yarder, and the Chiefs quickly hit Dwayne Bowe for a 16 yard gain to the broncos 42, or a 60 yard attempt with the wind at our back.

And then Alex Smith got taken down.

Brutally awful mistake.

* The only thing yesterday that truly surprised me, from a gameplan / scheme angle, was that the Chiefs didn’t send Alex Smith scrambling even once, until the last play of the first half.  Part of that was because the line actually looked competent last night, but that intrigued me.

* The only second half issue I had, was when the Chiefs trailed 24-10 with about twelve to play, and faced a 4th and 7 at the broncos 41, and chose to punt.

I thought we should have gone for it. 

I understand why “Fat” Andy chose to punt – there’s still twelve minutes left, a pooch / coffin corner punt could pin denver deep, and you can change field position to your advantage.

I also cannot understand why, if you’re fielding the best defense in the NFL, you’re scared to go for it on 4th down in that spot.

The punt wound up as a touchback.  A twenty yard net gain.  And the donkeys were at midfield two plays later, negating the whole point of the punt (they’d get a field goal out of the drive). 

Decisions like that drive me crazy.  I don’t have what you would call a “riverboat gambler” mentality, in that I go for 4th and 1 all the time, always go for it on the opponents side of the field, etc.  If the Chiefs were up 24-10 in that spot, I’d punt it 100 times out of 100 if I could.

But down fourteen, with twelve to play, at the toughest road environment we’ll face this season, with a defense that has stopped the donkeys on 8 of the last 9 drives, if you don’t have enough confidence in your offense to convert – and more specifically, don’t have enough confidence in your defense to hold denver if you don’t convert – then what’s the point?

* The bottom line is this: the Chiefs still control their own destiny.  If they win out, they will win the AFC West, will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and just like sixteen years ago, the de facto Super Bowl might be staged at Arrowhead in the Divisional Round.


The donkeys still have the tougher road to go – four out of six on the road, including a brutal two-fer of at Patriots / at Chiefs, the next two weeks.  There is still a decent probability that denver will leave Arrowhead two back with four to play, with only one game left on the Chiefs schedule (vs Colts week sixteen) that the Chiefs will not be at least a six point favorite in.

Last night did nothing, other than keep the donkeys dreams of home field alive.  Given that they've lost their last two playoff games at fake mile high (got de-pantsed by Pittsburgh in 2005, lost in an "only peyton manning could lose this way" fashion in 2012), is that really a bad thing?

* And if we're being technical here, they've lost three straight playoff games at fake mile high -- the season finale in 2006, was for all intents and purposes, a playoff game.  Despite the Chiefs four game playoff losing streak at Arrowhead ('95 Indy, '97 denver, '03 Indy, '10 Baltimore), we at least won a de facto one, against the Jaguars in 2006.

* I'll say it: come December 1st at about 6:45pm CT?

One of these two teams, hasn't made their final trip, to play the other in this season.

I mean, how can it be laid out better?

As I finish typing this, Carolina leads New England 10-3.  Let's say that final holds up, or that the Panthers win the game (as I believe they will).

Here's what you've got at this point:

broncos / Chiefs: 9-1.
Patriots / Colts: 7-3.
Bengals: 7-4.
Jets / Dolphins: 5-5
Steelers / Ravens / Browns / raiders / Chargers: 4-6
Bills: 4-7.

Your AFC West winner is highly likely to have home field advantage; your second place team is virtually locked into the five seed as the top wildcard.  Both KC and denver are FOUR CLEAR of the wildcard field, with six to play.  And the teams tied for the six seed, face off twice in the last six weeks, against each other (week thirteen at the Fake Meadowlands, week seventeen at whatever the hell Joe Robbie Stadium goes by nowadays ... and if you're looking for your likely flex game for week seventeen, this is likely it at this point: winner gets the six seed and a date at Indy, loser sees their head coach fired and a rebuild begin.  Good times!)

Here's the best guess, for the eight teams I believe, have realistic postseason chances:

(Note: national television games will have the network noted.)

* broncos (9-1): at Patriots (NBC) / at Chiefs (CBS) / vs Titans / vs Chargers (NFL) / at Texans / at raiders.  Smells like 13-3 worst case to me ... although that Chargers Thursday nighter, given it's in denver in mid-December, and the Chargers might be alive still for the six seed, could get dicey.

My verdict: 13-3, fifth seed.  They get swept on this upcoming road trip.

* Chiefs (9-1): vs Chargers / vs broncos (CBS) / at Redskins / at raiders / vs Colts / at Chargers.  Smells like 12-4 worst case to me ... and smells like a flex-in for week sixteen (current Sunday nighter is Pats at Ravens).

My verdict: 14-2, one seed.  The loss comes at San Diego in a meaningless finale for the Chiefs ... and potentially a biggie for the Chargers.

* Patriots (7-3 / 8-2): vs broncos (NBC) / at Texans / vs Browns / vs Dolphins / at Ravens (NBC) / vs Bills.  Giving them the projected loss tonight at Carolina, that has 12-4 worst case scent to it.

My verdict: 13-3, two seed.  No losses after tonight at Carolina.

* Colts (7-3): at Cardinals / vs Titans / at Bengals / vs Texans / at Chiefs / vs Jaguars.  They have to travel to two teams currently leading or tied for the divisional lead.  If the Colts drop to the four, it's their own fault.

My verdict: 10-6, three seed.  Lose all three road games.

* Bengals (7-4): bye / at Chargers / vs Colts / at Steelers (NBC) / vs Vikings / vs Ravens.  If any team is going to collapse, it's this one.  Four of the last five against teams within one game of the playoffs.  That's touch.

My verdict: 9-7, six seed.  Lose to Chargers, Colts, and Steelers.

* Steelers (4-6): at Browns / at Ravens (NBC) / vs Dolphins / vs Bengals (NBC) / at Packers / vs Browns.  The beneficiary of the Browns collapse.

My verdict: 9-7, four seed.  Only lose at Packers, win AFC Norris via tiebreaker with Bengals.

* Jets (5-5): at Ravens / vs Dolphins / vs raiders / at Panthers / vs Browns / at Dolphins.  Not looking good.

My verdict: 8-8, no postseason.  Lose all three roadies.

* Chargers (4-6): at Chiefs / vs Bengals / vs Giants / at donkeys / vs raiders / vs Chiefs.  Look out folks.  Look out.

My verdict: 8-8, lose at KC and denver.

My projected playoff field with six to go:

1. Chiefs 14-2.
2. Patriots 13-3.
3. Colts 10-6.
4. Steelers 9-7.
5. broncos 13-3.
6. Bengals 9-7.

I'll go a step further; here's how I see the divisional round shaping up:

Bengals at Chiefs
broncos at Patriots

And I'd wager decent money, the third set with denver, is at Arrowhead come approximately 2:30pm CT, on Sunday, January 19, 2014.

Or, it's at fake mile high, come approximately 2:30pm CT, on Sunday January 19, 2014.

Because the Chiefs and the broncos?

Are the best teams in the AFC.

Even if they won't be seeded that way.

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The Chiefs lost last night.  The denver broncos beat us fair and square.  No "sliding money under the table to terrell davis to circumvent the salary cap", no fluke miracle finishes, no "what the hell?" moments of surprise.

The denver broncos are, as of this moment, the best team in the AFC.

The Kansas City Chiefs, as of this moment, can reclaim that title in thirteen days.

The fact that reality says denver is better tonight, is reality.  Just like the fact that reality says the Chiefs can reclaim the title in thirteen days, is reality.

"Oh how I remember,
The way love felt in (junior) year."

And how it's gonna feel, in "fifteen year anniversary of graduating college" years.

Somewhere, Vincent Kennedy McMahon is smiling broadly, at how quickly the title belt changed hands last night ...

... and how quickly it can change back, come 6:45ish pm CT, on Sunday, December 1st, at the First Church of Arrowhead.

Because last night ensures, my three favorite words in the English language, when bunched together, truly and completely apply, to the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs.

"Season.  F*cking.  On!!!!!"

Yes.  Yes it is ...

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also, apologies on the layout ...

Something went bat sh*t crazy when I tried to upload the previous post.  I'll work on fixing it Tuesday.  I didn't change a thing; t...