Even after what happened on Monday, we have no Chief concerns about Tiebreaker.com’s favorite AFC team. As Rodgers and Hammerstein said in “Oklahoma,” everything’s up to date in Kansas City.
Kansas City Chiefs
On CBS and black and white television in 1966, the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants 72-41 and everyone thought there would never be another game like it. And then Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff were born. Mahomes threw for 478 yards and six touchdowns in the first game in league history where both teams scored over 50. But he was responsible for five turnovers and the Chiefs lost. So what? Kansas City has actually averaged more points (45.5) in their two losses to the New Patriots and Rams than they have in their wins. A remarkable team.
New England Patriots
The Pats had a week to consider what went wrong in Tennessee two weeks ago. That’s like giving Usain Bolt a 10-yard head start. Statistically, this hasn’t been Tom Brady’s best season because his numbers don’t match up with those compiled by Mahomes, Goff and Drew Brees. But they are playing the New York Jets this week. Chicken soup for the soul.
Los Angeles Chargers
Prior to losing to the Denver Broncos last week, the Bolts had only lost to the Chiefs and Rams. Understandable. Losing to the Broncos is an entirely different story. Consider that Chargers gained 479 yards and still got beat. You want to know why? 14 penalties. This team hasn’t been the postseason since 2013 and this week they have the Arizona Cardinals to pick on. We will see what they are made of.
After four games, the Steelers were 1-2-1. After 10 games, they are 7-2-1. They are as hot as a marshmallow over a campfire. Ben Roethlisberger’s awful first half spotted the Jacksonville Jaguars a 16-0 lead last week. And then the deficit just melted away. The question with the Steelers has always been can they beat the Patriots in a playoff game. As it relates to 2018, we say yes they can. The Chiefs? We’ll get back to you on that.
History lesson: From 1980 to 2017, 173 teams began the season 0-3. Only five made the playoffs. In the decade spanning 2007-2017, 52 teams started 0-3 and zero qualified for the postseason. If asked to calculate the life expectancy of a team in September, you might call this an actuarial delight. But eventually, exceptions to the rule arise. The Texans won their seventh straight in Washington last week, a game marred by the season-ending injury to Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. Houston plays it next three games at home – Tennessee, Cleveland and Indianapolis. Not only will the Texans likely win the AFC South, they could wind up with a home playoff game.
You know what they say about life: When one door closes, another usually opens. Remember when Josh McDaniels slammed the door in the Colts’ face by backing out of his commitment to be there coach? Of course, you do. So what happened next? Frank Reich, after helping the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl as their offensive coordinator, walked in the open door. Maybe there’s more to it, but Andrew Luck is playing like an MVP again. The Colts have won four straight. The offensive line has allowed a sack in five games. If there is a football god, the Colts beat the Patriots in the playoffs.
We heard the snide remark from Bengals coach Marvin Lewis last week, after Ravens’ rookie QB Lamar Jackson’s turned his defense inside-out (not hard to do, by the way) in his debut. Lewis said QBs like Jackson, who make their living with the legs, usually don’t have a long shelf life. Waaaah! Finders keepers, losers weepers. The Ravens certainly understand this. But after watching the immobile Joe Flacco turn into a pillar of salt over time, watching Jackson bring their offense to life must have been exhilarating.
Ryan Tannehill is scheduled to make his return this week after missing five games with a shoulder injury. The Dolphins were 2-3 with Brock Osweiler under center, not bad considering how Osweiler has been perceived. But somehow it doesn’t really seem to matter. The Dolphins are vanilla in a league of endless flavor. There is nothing special about them and there hasn’t been since 2000, the last time they won a playoff game.
On Nov. 11, the Titans sent the Patriots tumbling into their bye week with a 34-10 win. How about those Titans! On Nov. 18, the Titans were crushed 38-10 by the Colts. How about those Titans! This has been the story of their season, up and down, the official elevator of the NFL. And now Marcus Mariota is hurt again and if he can’t play Monday in Houston, it will mean Blaine Gabbert will have to deal with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. That’s one elevator Gabbert doesn’t want to ride.
The bright side is the Broncos were close to being 6-4 instead of 4-6. And if that was the case, their fans would not be on the back of coach Vance Joseph. But they are 4-6, even after beating the Chargers last week thanks to a Brandon McManus field goal as the clock expired after holding the ball for just over 22 minutes. But we’re sure there are a lot of teams in the league that wish they had Phillip Lindsay and Bradley Chubb.
If there weren’t so many mediocre teams in the AFC, we’d consider moving the Bengals further south in our power rankings. Has there ever been a more pitiful defense in league history? Actually, that’s trick question. The 2012 Saints allowed 7,042 yards to break the record set by the 1981 Baltimore Colts (6,743). This Bengals team has allowed a league-leading average of 449.4 yards, 30 more than the second place Cleveland Browns. Calculated over a 16-game season, the computes to 7,190 yards. We have a winner!
How many of you thought that you would ever see the Browns ranked higher than the Jacksonville Jaguars in an NFL power ranking? We know, we know. But we give the Browns the nod because of their bright future, their QB, their 25 defensive takeaways and the guts to admit they’d like to interview Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State, for their vacant head coaching position. Imagine the diplomacy in those team meetings.
There simply aren’t enough adjectives to describe how pitiful this team has been. But’s let try: Disgraceful, deplorable, contemptible and pathetic. Imagine how many more we might think of if they lose to the Buffalo Bills this week. Tom Coughlin must be having a conniption fit. And not even being on time (10 minutes early) for team meetings can help at this point.
Josh Allen returns to quarterback his team for the first time since Oct. 14 after injuring his elbow. In the time he’s been gone, the Bills have experimented with Nathan Peterman and Derek Anderson. That didn’t go so well. They finally brought free agent Matt Barkley in to play against the Jets before last week’s bye and that worked out really well. The Bills won 41-10. Will there now be a QB controversy? That is just a joke, folks.
New York Jets
Never place your B-E-T-S, B-E-T-S, B-E-T-S on the J-E-T-S, J-E-T-S, J-E-T-S. Sam Darnold is hurt, but likely will play against the Patriots. The Jets have scored 43 points in their last four games. Brady is almost 20 years older than Darnold. And that would be the largest generation gap between starting QBs since the 1970 merger. The FAA may want to ground this flight.
Jon Gruden and Derek Carr were arguing on the sidelines last week. So if you want to guess who will be in town longer, you might want to side with the head coach. Still, it must have been a constructive conversation. When all was said and done, the Raiders did beat Arizona. Somebody had to win, right?