Saturday, December 20, 2014

chiefs! steelers! this one is hu-yuge ...

"Yeah girl, been digging on you;
Sippin' on drink number two!
Trying to come up with something smooth;
And waiting on the right time, to make my move.

But I just can't wait no more!
Can't let you slip out that door!
Prettiest thing I ever seen before --
Got me spinning around; I ain't even on the dance floor!

You're shaking that money maker,
Like a heart breaker!
Like your college major,
Was twisting and tearing up Friday nights!

Love the way you're wearing those jeans so tight!
I bet your kiss is a soul saver,
My favorite flavor --
Want it now and later!

I never seen something that I wanted so bad!
Girl, I got to get me,
I gotta get me some of that!
Yeah, gotta get me some of that! ..."

-- "Get Me Some of That" by Thomas Rhett.

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(pastor stevo) (shuffling the sermon notes)
(the congregation) (anxiously awaiting his words)

Peoples and peepettes,

Since it is Chrismukkah, and there are (shockingly) far more important things than a do-or-die football game for the Red and Gold, let's just jump to the conclusion, then figure out how we got there, shall we?

The Kansas City Chiefs are going to win on Sunday.  They are going to go into Fake Three Rivers, and they are going to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, which will possibly set up one helluva finish next Sunday night, with the six seed in the AFC on the line, for the winner.

Why do I feel so strongly about this?

For six reasons.

(1) Because the last two weeks, if you’ve been paying attention, the Chiefs have given you a hint of what’s coming.

They’re going to take their cracks, at the Steelers secondary, which figures to be down a man, as all-around ass clown Troy Palomalu is doubtful to play.

Right before the half at Arizona – the safe play on 3rd and 19 is to hand the ball off and take the three points.  Alex Smith threw it 15 yards downfield, and Dwayne Bowe got the first on a lovely 23 yard gain.

That 3rd and 1 bomb in Arizona – Alex Smith had a wide, wide open Sal Fasano right in front of him for the first down.  Alex chose to air it out for Jason Avant instead for a 40 yard gain.

Last week, on 2nd and 19, again Alex Smith had an open receiver that could gain decent yardage short (in this case, Jamaal Charles), and again Alex Smith chose to air it out, hitting Dwayne Bowe 17 yards downfield for a 30 yard gain.

And again, last week, the touchdown to Travis Kelce.  The safe throw was there.  Alex Smith flung it to the end zone.

The last two weeks, the Chiefs not only have thrown more than they’ve run the ball (48/13 at Arizona; 31/26 vs oakland), but they’ve taken at least two long-bomb shots each week, even when the safe play, the checkdown to get decent yardage or a new set of downs, was wide open.

I do not believe this is a coincidence.

Then again, I’m the one guy you’ll meet, who believes there is no such thing, as coincidence.

(2) Because the Chiefs, when facing decent rushing defenses this season?  Have done well against them.

The Chiefs have faced the 2nd ranked rushing defense (denver) twice; the 4th ranked rushing defense (New York Jets); the 5th ranked rushing defense (Seattle); the 6th ranked rushing defense (Arizona); the 8th ranked rushing defense (49ers); the 9th ranked rushing defense (Buffalo); the 10th ranked rushing defense (New England); the 12th ranked rushing defense (St. Louis); and the 13th ranked rushing defense (San Diego). 

In 10 of their 14 games so far this season, the Chiefs have faced a top 13 rushing defense.

And with the exception of the denver Sunday nighter (which, in the Chiefs defense, they were down 14-0 right off the bat, thanks to the brilliant fake punt by britton colquitt), they’ve been able to move the ball when running it.

* Without Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs still managed 121 yards on the ground at denver (Week Two).
* They put up over 200 yards rushing on the Patriots (Week Four).
* They put up over 100 yards rushing on the 49ers (Week Five).
* They put up over 130 yards rushing on the “Super” Chargers (Week Seven).
* They put up over 120 yards rushing on the Rams (Week Eight).
* They topped 100 yards rushing on the Jets (Week Nine).
* They put up over 120 yards rushing on the Bills (Week Ten), including the play that, if they reach the playoffs, will be the key moment of the season (the 4th and 1 pitch to Jamaal Charles, who took it 37 yards for the touchdown).
* They threatened 200 yards rushing against the Seahawks (Week Eleven).
* And even the Cardinals game, when they ran the ball 13 times, they topped 120 yards.

Only that Sunday nighter went poorly on the ground.

Ten top 13 rushing defenses.  Nine 100 plus yard games.  Nine games in which either the Chiefs won, or loss by less than a possession.

The Steelers rushing defense?

Ranks 11th.

(colonel john "hannibal" smith voice) Interesting, isn’t it?

(3) Because Alex Smith is good enough to win this game.

Look it, I’ve b*tched about Alex Smith’s record in huge games for the Chiefs.  He went 1-4 in the regular season last year against teams with a winning record at season’s end (he won at Philly; lost to denver twice, lost to San Diego once, lost to Indy once).  He went 0-1 in the playoffs (losing at Indy).

But let’s be honest here.  The loss at denver wasn’t unexpected, and losing by ten in that madhouse – in prime time to boot – is nothing to sneer at.  The loss to San Diego here wasn’t his fault; Phyllis Rivers put on a spectacular two-minute drill to win the game inside of twenty seconds to play in a 41-38 shootout.  The loss here to denver?  Chiefs had the ball, 4th and 5 at the denver 9, with a minute to go.  And Bowe dropped the first down pass.  That isn’t Alex’s fault.  The loss to Indy here was a debacle, (allard baird voice) no question – but the loss at Indy two weeks later?

Only someone with an IQ hovering around the outdoor temperature in Kansas City right now (which is 27), would blame Alex Smith for that defeat.  He put up 44 points, on the road, in the loony bin that is Lucas Oil Stadium, despite losing his best weapon on the first offensive series. 

So this season?  Against teams likely to finish with a winning record?

* respectable in defeat at denver.  I hate that yet again, the Chiefs had the ball inside the denver 10 with a chance to tie late, and failed to do so, but again, Alex Smith threw a catchable ball, and Travis Kelce dropped it.

* with the season on the line in Miami, the Chiefs blew out the Dolphins.  Smith had two touchdown throws.

* the Chiefs obliterated the Patriots in prime time by 30.

* a very respectable return to San Francisco, as a defensive penalty cost the Chiefs that game.

* engineered a season-saving upset in San Diego with a great two-minute drive.

* scored the winning touchdown in Buffalo … and perfectly pulled off the pitch to Jamaal Charles, a play that is damned difficult to do.

* perfectly managed the game here against Seattle, and converted a huge 3rd down to Travis Kelce to allow the clock to run out on Seattle.

* the loss to denver here was not Alex Smith’s fault.  Despite how awful the Chiefs played?  Smith completed the pass to Donnie Avery that should have set the Chiefs up at the donkeys 30 with six to play, only down 13.  It isn’t Alex Smith’s fault that Donnie Avery couldn’t hold onto the ball even if all the Stick-Em in the world were applied to his gloves.

* the two minute drill in Arizona was an abortion … but if Travis Kelce doesn’t fumble the first down reception, the two minute abortion never has to occur.  (To say nothing of the fact that if the single worst offensive pass interference call in league history is never called on Sal Fasano, Kelce’s fumble never matters.)

The Chiefs have already faced 9 teams likely to finish at 9-7 or better … and have two more on tap.  Alex Smith is 5-4 in those games, and you cannot point to a single mistake he’s made, to cost us the game in those four defeats.

I’ll take my chances on Sunday with Alex Smith.

Besides, if Matt Cassel (2012, L 13-16 OT) and Tyler Palko (2011, L 9-13) can take the Steelers to the wire, why the hell are we concerned about Alex Smith being able to not just keep it close, but win this baby outright?

(4) Because Coach Hobo is on the other sideline.  Or the other press box.  Whichever applies.

I’m not an athlete.  I’m not even a competent bowler, for crying out loud.  But speaking from a little experience when it comes to that bowling league, the two times my new team faced Dustin, I couldn’t throw straight to save my ass.  I was so f*cking determined to whip his ass eight ways from Sunday, I lost focus.  I only cared about how exacting a level of revenge would feel.

Those two matchups were DAMNED personal to me.  And it showed.  Via two sh*ttacular performances out of me, even by my sh*ttacular standards.

(Thank God I have a teammate named Steve, who was so dialed in both times, we took 6 of 8 against that “boys team”.)

Coach Hobo is, in some ways, like me.  He’s not a fan of shaving.  He’s not a fan of dressing up.  And he tends to overreact … especially when payback is involved.

This game is personal for him.

He’ll lose focus.  He’ll be the coach this week, with the “what the hell?  48/13 pass to run ratio, really?” gameplan that leaves everyone questioning his sanity.  

He’ll try at least one or two plays designed to show-up his former employer.

And I’m willing to wager that one of those “eff you” attempted moments, is what is going to be the Steelers undoing.

(5) Because “Fat” Andy Reid is on our sideline. 

Say what you want about “Fat” Andy’s clock management issues … at least we know the Chiefs won’t panic, won’t be unprepared for what the Steelers throw at them, and we also know we’re going to see a competent, solid gameplan on both sides of the ball.

Three things not applicable, the last three times the Chiefs have faced the Steelers.

More to the point, this is the stretch of football that endeared “Fat” Andy to Eagles fans.  They always played their best, when it mattered the most … at least in the regular season.

Don’t believe me?

* 1999: they won their last two, beating a decent Patriots team, and upsetting the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams.
* 2000: won 3 of their last 4, to reach the playoffs, and pounded Tampa once they got there.
* 2001: won 3 of their last 4, to reach the playoffs, before losing NFC Title Game.
* 2002: won 3 of their last 4, to reach the playoffs, before losing NFC Title Game.  Only loss was OT defeat to the Giants.
* 2003: won 3 of their last 4, to reach the playoffs, before losing NFC Title Game.  Only loss was OT defeat to the 49ers.
* 2004: went 2-2 down the stretch (rested starters Week 17), before losing Super Bowl.
* 2005: the TO Debacle.  (Closed 1-3).
* 2006: won 5 straight to close the season and steal the NFC East.
* 2007: won last 3 to get back to .500.
* 2008: won 3 of 4 to get into the playoffs, before losing NFC Title Game.
* 2009: won 3 of 4 to get into the playoffs, before losing NFC Wildcard.
* 2010: went 2-2 down the stretch (rested starters Week 17), before losing NFC Wildcard.
* 2011: won last 4 to get back to .500.
* 2012: lost last 3, “Fat” Andy fired.
* 2013: went 2-2 down the stretch (rested starters Week 17), before losing AFC Wildcard.

The ONLY two seasons “Fat” Andy hasn’t managed to go .500 or better in the last quarter of the season, were the TO Debacle of 2005, and after the team quit on him in 2012.

10 of his 15 season as head coach entering this year, he closed 3-1 or better.  13 of his 15 seasons as head coach entering this year, he closed 2-2 or better.

“Fat” Andy’s at his best, when the regular season pressure is most intense.

(6) Because the best player in this game, wears 25 for the Red and Gold.

I think we’re going to see the performance of his career on Sunday.

Jamaal Charles has faced the Steelers twice in his career.  Let’s examine each of those games – one a 27-24 Chiefs win in overtime (2009), the other a 13-16 Chiefs defeat in overtime (2012).

* 2009:

From the opening kickoff, 25 made his presence felt, as he returned the opening kick 97 yards for the touchdown.  Just like that, the Chiefs were up 7-0.

Between that return, and 57 minutes of game action later, Charles only gained 58 yards (on 17 rushing attempts) and 8 yards (on 2 receptions).  It is the second reception that matters, because it was a touchdown catch that tied the game at 24 … and his final touch of the game was a first down, that got the Chiefs out of the shadow of their end zone, and set up the game-clinching bomb to Chris Chambers two plays later, as the Chiefs won 27-24.

You can make a credible argument, Mr. Charles epic career in the Red and Gold, truly began to become epic, on this day, five years ago.

* 2011:

Mr. Charles did not play in the Chiefs 9-13 defeat to the Steelers, as he was out for the season with a (al michaels voice) knee.

* 2012:

Jamaal Charles not only scored the only touchdown of the night for the Chiefs (a 12 yarder midway through the first quarter), he gave the worst Chiefs team of all time the lead with time left on the clock, for the first time in 2012.

For the night, Mr. Charles had 100 yards (on 23 carries) and the touchdown.

My point being, we haven’t seen a breakthrough against these guys yet, by the best player either team is hauling onto the field.

The third time’s the charm.

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There’s also reason number seven: I HATE the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I DESPISE the oakland raiders and denver broncos, but there will be no love lost between me and the Steelers on Sunday.

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Sunday, the fate of the Chiefs season is on the line.  There is a scenario where the Chiefs can get in without a win, but it’s so bat sh*t crazy, that even I think it’s impossible to see occurring.

I noted leaving Arrowhead last week “one down, six to go”.

For those of you who say this is an impossible task?  I simply reply, haven’t we already seen the impossible in this town this fall?

I’m not saying that Royals / A’s Wildcard Game is my favorite sporting event I’ve ever attended.  (That would be the 2006 Indy 500, for those keeping track.)  But it’s damned close.  Because like that epic finish in Indy eight years ago, if that Wildcard game taught me anything?

It’s that dreams do come true.  The impossible sometimes is attainable.

And sometimes?  Good triumphs over evil.

It’s Chrismukkah, for crying out loud.  The whole point of this holiday season is that good WILL triumph over evil someday!  Why can’t the Chiefs win this game?  Why can’t the Chiefs defense once again shut down a solid offensive unit, to the point of utter frustration?  “Bulldog” Bob Sutton’s crew did it to Tom Brady.  They did it to Russell Wilson.  They did it to Phyllis Rivers.  Why can’t they do it to Ben Roethlisberger?

Why can’t Jamaal Charles be the MVP on Sunday?  Who says Le’Veon Bell has to be better?  Especially since he’s not?  Who says the “wide receivers have zero touchdowns” streak has to continue? 

Who do you feel more comfortable betting on, Coach Hobo or “Fat” Andy, when it comes to the offensive gameplan?  I’ll grant you, if you feel more comfortable betting on Dick LeBeau over the Bulldog when it comes to the defensive gameplan, that’s understandable … but you’re going to be proven wrong.

I love the quiet confidence exhibited all week.  The Chiefs are calm, they’re focused.

They’re ready.

I know I haven’t done the picks in a few weeks … but this week’s “Screw You” Pete King Upset O’ The Week?

(stevo sighing in disgust) Take a mother f*cking guess.

* Chiefs (+3) 31, at Steelers 21.  And as an added bonus, I think the "eff you" moment that will burn the Steelers, will be Phillip Gaines returning a pick six, with about five minutes to go, to seal the win.

I believe the Chiefs will do their part, to ensure the regular season finale, is at Arrowhead next Sunday.  Now let's see if the Chargers are up to the challenge ...

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