Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chiefs at Chargers - Week 7 - Record: 3-3

What it takes to beat the Horse Curse.

We had to overcome three or four gruesomely dropped passes. We had to overcome a sure touchdown not scored when A.J. Jenkins stepped out of bounds. We had to overcome a splendidly batted ball that daintily dropped into the hands of Antonio Gates for a Charger touchdown. We had to overcome that ugly seven-headed beast known as the officiating crew who called at least three brutally phantom penalties against us but simply refused to keep the Chargers tackles from holding Houston and Hali.

I was sure something was going to happen to keep the Horse Curse marauding against us, but sure enough, we managed to succeed in doing the one thing that snuffed that sucker today. It is the key thing a team can do to stop the Chargers, and we did it wonderfully today. Damn was Reid good at making this happen -- in fact this is one Reid's best coaching skills.

We kept Philip Rivers off the field.

It was beautiful to behold. The Chiefs were able to chew up clock for inordinate amounts of time, scoring five times in the process, the fifth coming on a nail-biting 48-yard field goal from our brand spankin' new kicker Cairo Santos whose entire 5'8'' frame was well-deservedly mugged after his kick won the game.

Our time of possession was double that of the Chargers, and one less time for Rivers to display his supernatural prowess against us is big-time significant.

While there is a tremendous feeling of relief, that our boys can actually dent this curse (our first win in SD since 2007, really) -- we still have issues. Our receivers did make some clutch catches today, I was very please to see that, especially late in the game, but come on -- still too many drops! Our D-backs were beast when it counted -- gotta give Phillip Gaines some more playing time! -- we are still missing Eric Berry. When is he coming back? I liked seeing some of the support players come through -- is that A.J. Jenkins showing that he can be a weapon? -- but we still need more consistency from others to take the load off Charles and Davis.

And as much as we scream our lungs out at Alex Smith to throw the ball, not get sacked, run there, don't run there, do this do that do that do this -- he still hangs in there and provides a very nice, steady attack that today served us very well.

We're holding our own at 3-3, and that may be very good because it'll motivate the team to know they've got to keep working hard to get into real contention position. Hey, look at baseball's Giants and Royals. They knew they had to battle coming out of the wild-card spots and couldn't afford a let-down. Object lesson.

Of course, now all resolutely faithful all-Kansas City sports fans can sit back Tuesday and enjoy the Royals playing in

THE WORLD SERIES CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT
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Sunday, October 05, 2014

Chiefs at 49ers - Week Five - Record: 2-3

This was indeed a game we could have won, we should have won against a very good team.

It was showcased as Alex Smith's return against his old team, and for much of the game he did pretty decently. But let's just be honest about two key things.

1. Alex Smith does need to make the accurate throw when he needs to. Sure there was that ugly overthrow in the last minute, the pass intended for Anthony Fasano that was intercepted sealing the Niners victory. But there were several other passes that were just thrown low or wide when the Chiefs needed to make those connections. He completes those passes and this game is ours, one that for quite some time really looked like was ours.

2. Alex Smith does not have the receivers to make things happen like they should. We were without Donnie Avery because of injury, but even with him this is not a receiving core that'll get us to the next level -- it just isn't. It is scary that it isn't. I'd even heard the announcers relay some stat, I don't remember what it was, but it was indicative that this is the worst receiving core in the league. I think the stat was something like, our receivers do not have a touchdown all season. Sorry, but this is a tremendous liability. Ready for the start of The Wide Receiver Project? After all it is Halloween season, I should get that going to make things especially scary.

Again, this was a game we had. I liked our running game, it was solid and on-track like it should. I liked our pass rush, for a time we really hogtied their QB Colin Kaepernick. And who can't be thrilled with De'Anthony Thomas finally getting in the mix, even scoring a screen-pass touchdown with some extra power running to get into the endzone.

What concerns me are a few things, things that are pretty major.

First of all, I think the play of the game was a clutch Niners play that no one could do anything about. We had the Niners on a 3rd-and-long and under a fierce rush Kaepernick threw up a long duck, and their receiver Brandon Lloyd makes a fantastic catch with Sean Smith draped all over him. (But there ya go, that's a play their receiver makes. Errgck.)

Our D-backs were good sometimes, but then there's Marcus Cooper. Sometimes he's terrific, like when he contributed big-time to disrupting the Peyton Manning pick-passes a few weeks ago, but today he was roasted. How much longer do we have to wait for him to take advantage of his raw physical ability and shut down the guy he's covering?

Our run defense wilted when it got late. The Niners were able to run effectively, get those late field goals, run clock in the process, and keep our offense on its heels.

Regarding both of these critical breakdowns, it must be pointed out that those injuries we've had to key defensive players hurt. Eric Berry is still not in there. Mike Devito and Derrick Johnson are key run stuffers and they're gone for the year. They mentioned how well we've done to make up for them, but sorry, their absence really hurt us late today.

And what about that 12-men-on-the-field penalty when the Niners were punting, giving them a 1st down. Incredible. That one penalty was even worse for the Chiefs than the Brandon Lloyd catch, and it was a mistake contending teams don't make.

After a breakout game Monday night and a chance to show up in the top ten of all the sports network/sites "Power Rankings", now we have to settle for still wallowing around in the bottom half again, and it'll be for a while because the Chiefs have a bye next week.
_

I can't finish this post without making mention of the amazing sports week it has been for all things Kansas City in the sports world. After the Chiefs destroyed the Patriots at Arrowhead last Monday night, the major league's Royals hosted the A's at Kauffman in the one-game wild-card playoff game, and they won it in thrilling fashion, 9-8 in 12 innings. The Royals have gone on to win the first two games of their ALDS contest against the Angels.

Indeed, on Wednesday when I presume the soccer team Sporting KC was playing in the Washington D.C. area, they visited the White House where the president welcomed the, yes, World Champion Kansas City professional soccer team.

What a week for Kansas City, who as a city had gone 48 straight combined team-years without a win by the pro football team and an appearance in a playoff series by the pro baseball team.

With their strong pitching, stifling defense, tenacious hitting, and rich enthusiasm, the Royals have gone a long way to make things up-to-date in Kansas City once again.

Now the Chiefs just need to keep moving forward and get to their next level.
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Patriots at Chiefs - Week 4 - Record: 2-2

Remember that game 23 years ago? You know it. All Chiefs fans do.

October 7, 1991. The Chiefs had been starting to show that under new management and coaching, they could be molded into a contender. They'd done well the previous two years, even making the playoffs the year before. They started this campaign a bit sluggishly, they were 3-2 when they went into a Monday night affair with another up-and-coming team, the Buffalo Bills.

Remember that?

The Chiefs destroyed them.

Pretty much every single Chiefs fan considers that the launchpad game to a decade of football excellence in Kansas City.

I'm reluctant to call this game a watershed game like that one. But I can't help but get that feeling, just the feeling. Just that sweet feeling of solid success reasonably if modestly portending future success. Hard not to just have that feeling for now.

Everyone anticipated this one to be pretty evenly matched. As I listened to some of the introductory remarks, that the Patriots had a good defense but had been trying to find themselves offensively, I wasn't going to disagree. I didn't know.

But I have known that the Chiefs do have a number of things going for them that led to this dominant performance tonight.

Jamaal Charles' return -- he had three touchdowns tonight. Travis Kelce's emergence -- he is so strong and quick. Knile Davis' steadiness -- he gives the Chiefs so many options. The finely rebuilt offensive line -- they had a terrific game against the Patriots strength.

And that's just the offense. Houston and Hali were monsters again tonight. Our D-backs played admirably without a still-hobbling Eric Berry. And yes, Dustin Colquitt, yeah, again, the punter, was his usual excellent self.

And just so many more Chiefs highlights. I could mention many more people in the Chiefs success mix tonight.

But as great as all this Chiefs stuff was, it's all happening because Andy Reid is the master engineer of this surging locomotive. He is the one factor that got me to believe we should have a pretty good chance in tonight's game. It was easy to see his extraordinary work in the Miami game. He did it again tonight. He just does such a great job of arranging the components of his football team to get the most of them, to get the dubya.

Still a lot more season to go. But damn. This was nice tonight.

Oh, and whaddya think? They wore the red pants at home only once last year, in a win against the Cowboys. They donned them again tonight, and looked terrific.

More of the red pants at Arrowhead? Whaddya think?

It worked great for them again tonight.
_

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chiefs at Dolphins - Week 3 - Record: 1-2

The very first blog post on this site was in 2005, October, a few games into the season when I just up and decided to do a Chiefs blog. As you know I only write about the game of the week, the only thing my eyes behold, mostly because that's just about all the Chiefs heart-rendering eventualities I can take. In fact I started this a mere two games after a game against the Eagles we'd led big early but ended up losing big, in a season we'd need just one more win to make the playoffs in a 10-6 campaign. Heart rendering indeed.

The reason I bring it up is that that first post was about the Chiefs game in Miami. It was notable because it was played on a Friday night because of some hurricane thing going on. What was neat was that we won the game with the help of two Lawrence Tynes 50-something yard field goals.

The game today was especially sweet, for a number of reasons. In no particular order:

We showed we could play with critically critically critically key people not in the lineup. Of course Johnson Devito Allen weren't there -- they're gone for the year. Charles Berry Thomas weren't there, they're injury status is still up-in-the-air. Our right tackle Donald Stephenson has still got one more game on his suspension, and today we had another guy in there working on the line.

Speaking of the line, Eric Fisher is starting to show his No. 1 overall pick quality. Our running game ground out 174 yards. Of course Knile Davis and our other fine O-linemen such as Rodney Hudson had a lot to do with it.

This also speaks well of our coaching. Exceptional job by Andy Reid today. The game started out very vanilla -- at one point I screamed at the set watching yet another run off tackle that the Dolphins defense very predictably squashed. Good thing I screamed very loudly because they heard me. Reid started mixing it up, being imaginative, going to different guys, using his tight ends like crazy for power blocking and elaborate short yardage passing schemes. Joe McKnight scored two touchdowns today! Joe McKnight!

Our defense was again very bendy, but still got enough of the job done to stuff them when we needed to. The absence of Johnson and Berry is very obvious, but our guys still worked their asses off to not let the big gains they gave up get to them.

We made some bonehead mistakes, like that safety, what an aggravation that was. But damn, we do have those skill players who can make key plays when we needed. Our QB got sacked too many times, but again, Alex Smith is a guy who won't let those things get to him. Not his best game -- too many weirdly errant passes -- but he is resilient, athletic, versatile... very good to have in there when you want to win games in spite of the ugly stuff.

Hey, I can't not say something about Dustin Colquitt. I actually really like saying good things about him even though he's the punter. I mean, first a 63 yard punt, then a 64 yard punt. That's great defense, right there -- and the guy doesn't even have to make a tackle. Oh, and after that safety? High, booming kick to put Miami way back at their own 20-something.

Finally, we beat the Dolphins, an AFC East team. Remember the horror that was three years ago? When all four AFC East teams beat us by a combined score of 397 to 2? (Or something like that) It is sweet to have Andy Reid and Alex Smith this year, not Todd Haley and Matt Cassel -- and it is nice to have a number of clutch players to complement them that could make this season a decent one for us.
_

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chiefs at Broncos - Week 2 - Record: 0-2

I just can't stand it. I just have to start this post early. Right now we're down 21-10 as the first half  comes to an end. Please know that I've had no illusions about the likelihood of this outcome.

I'll wrap this up as this ugliness wraps up later. Don't really know what else to say however. I really don't.

My point now is this.

I don't know how much more pronounced The Curse can be. I really don't. I thought everybody was convinced of The Curse's ugliness through the years of never getting that drafted and developed quarterback, but no. I thought it'd be easily seen through the years of losing playoff game after playoff game even when we had pretty damn good teams, but no. I thought for sure it'd be seen in its gruesome barbarity after last season's wild-card game against the Colts. Apparently not then either.

A while back I'd made mention that this season could look like 2004 -- a year after a fine 13-3 season we started flat and had a poor season. No, as I look at the brutality of The Curse this year, it is looking like 2011. Remember that year, when we got crushed in the first two games and in the process lost three of our key players all to ACL injuries. We actually finished at 7-9 because ironically Todd Haley did a terrific job of getting us physically ready to play, and our resilience carried us through the season. Still.

Hey, there is no guarantee this will not be more like 2012.

And you can thank The Curse for that.

We've already lost Derrick Johnson and Mike Devito. I learned this week we lost Jeff Allen too. Gone for the year. Today we've lost Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry.

The Curse couldn't just let the wild-card game be and have it be over -- remember? That game when we had all our key players get clobbered by injuries? No, there just wasn't enough torment. It just has to continue unabated. Instead it has to vomit itself up all over us this year too.

Still don't think there is a Curse? Just look at this game. The air is thick with it. And I'm watching from a thousand miles away. I have nothing against Peyton Manning, I know it is very hard to beat him. That's cool. More power to them. We should beat a good team -- we should be good enough to beat The Curse.

But look at what's happened in this game. There're the injuries on top of injuries -- covered that.

There're also those picks the Broncos get away with to spring their receivers. No, they're not penalties they say, they're within one yard of the scrimmage line. Bullshit. I also thought they were supposed to be calling penalties against the receivers pushing off, well, that's not happened. (And here as the second half starts, a phantom holding call against our guy. Fortunately Alex Smith hit Travis Kelce to get the first down.)

Then there was the catch by that Broncos receiver that he fumbled, and after the officials ruled that their original ruling stood, incomplete pass, we now have no more challenges. Retarded, that challenges rule.

And to top it off, the officials didn't stop play when the two-minute warning hit. The Broncos moved all over the place, the Chiefs line moved, and they called a five-yard penalty against the Chiefs. Sure it's a little thing, but damn.

That Curse.

As it is, this Chiefs team is still playing with all the heart in the world. That's my team.

Right now as the 3rd quarter has started they've been moving the ball again. Smith is sharp. Knile Davis is a slashing maniac out there. Our receivers are making plays (how about that!!!) There was just a terrific slant pass catch for a first down by, yep! -- A.J. Jenkins!

And there. Finally they get these guys on a defensive holding call. Very obvious.

But then, those injuries.  We've got goal-to-goal, and one of those replacements on the line is called for his second holding of the game. Errgck. And we're going backwards. Now Smith gets sacked. No offensive line. Smith scrambling and scrambling and throwing it away again.

And we miss the field goal. Ten minutes of a pretty damn good Curse defeating drive, only to have yet again

The Curse prevail.

Really, the upshot of this is this. Until some things happen that are waaay not like any of this horror that Chiefs fans have endured year after year after year, then I'll know The Curse has been overcome. That means we start to see the things happen year after year after year that every other team has been able to enjoy -- again, the D&D quarterback (and receivers!) winning games, the team winning a few playoff games once in a while especially when it is good enough to, winning those playoff games on some consistent basis -- with a true absence of any of the insanely stupid misfortunes -- all coming from a front office that is truly stable, enduring, inspiring, and football smart like all get-out -- when those things start happening then we can know.

Thing is, even as it is, even at its worst, I'll still love my team. I see the nightmare in all its horrific glory, but it'll be just as wonderful when it gets overcome.

That's the beautiful day I look forward to.

End of 3rd quarter. Still 21-10 and within reach. Am I fooling myself, allowing The Curse to yank my chain?

These are still my Chiefs playing their hearts out. Will still believe the glory can happen, always.

Maybe that's starting to happen now. This catch Anthony Fasano just made is the catch of the year. Ay-mayzing. Reaching up, tipping it, falling down, juggling, snapping it out of the air flat on his back. Wow.

And there's a touchdown! Davis, right over our still pretty damn good O-linemen Fisher and Hudson.

Know what else I like -- our D-backs are really starting to blow up that patented Broncos pick-play crap. Sweet. Know what? We've pretty much stuffed them in the 2nd half!

So here we are, three minutes left, down by a touchdown, at midfield, giving it our best. That's cool. Thought it'd be much worse than this. This terribly injury ravaged team still has the players, all Chiefs, all playing like maniacs, very cool, playing like crazy to actually win a game no one thought they'd even be this close to winning. That's very cool.

But, yep, there it is, Smith's pass gets batted down on 4th and goal...

Still...
_

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Titans at Chiefs - Week 1 - Record: 0-1 - ADDENDUM

I simply cannot go another moment without just adding a significant feature to this endeavor's modest rant about the ugliness of this year's Chiefs opener. The original and usually only take is here, and everything there still applies.

But damn.

Here's what I happened to catch after the game. My wife had the Niners game on and, as I've mentioned before, I'm a modest 49ers fan because I grew up in the Bay Area. Still wholly for the Chiefs, but the Niners are okay. (After all they supply us with quarterbacks all the time.)

I'm watching this game, and sure enough there's Colin Kaepernick connecting with Anquan Boldin over and over and over again. He'd done it in previous years, too. Boldin was also a beast with Baltimore, and with Arizona before that.

Now, of course, here's my question.

Where is that guy -- for the Chiefs?

When have we ever been able to have him?

Yes, the only one who was that guy, and granted he was that guy, was Otis Taylor. But ya know?

That's it.

Never ever since Taylor have we had him.

Now I'm not yet getting into what will certainly at some time be The Wide Receiver Project, not yet, but damn.

Don't tell me that Dwayne Bowe is that guy. He wasn't there today, I know, but while he is pretty good, and while I like him a lot -- I do, and a lot of Chiefs fan do too, that's fine -- Bowe is no Anquan Boldin. Boldin has helped his teams win buku playoff games, while Bowe has won -- ahem -- how many?

Here's the next thing I have to write right now, just have to. That other thing I overheard during this Niners broadcast.

The Vikings demolished the Rams today.

Now the Vikings have a decent defense apparently and all that. Okay.

But you know what I thought about. You know...

Matt Cassel.

Sure enough, Cassel was instrumental in helping the Vikings win big, with the help of --

Here's the pay-off... Wait for it...

...

Some wide receiver I'd never heard of before for reasons having to do with him being new or me just being sports celibate and not paying any attention, but because of...

Cordarrelle Patterson.

Amazing game today. Tons of yardage piled up. And yes...

A wide receiver.

So he makes Matt Cassel look really good, and...

Makes me think...

Remember 2012? Remember how awful Cassel was? Welllll, do you know what I'm thinking?...

About how it really, maybe, probably, might be, actually, perhaps

Have been

Our terrible receivers?

Know another major reason we may very well suck this year besides the free agency issue? I can give it to you in two words.

Jonathan Baldwin.

Just looked it up. Didn't know this, just looked it up on the web.

The 49ers cut Baldwin back at the beginning of August. Didn't even wait around. Guess it's good we got A.J. Jenkins for him, but I don't think Jenkins is long for the Chiefs right now.

So yeah. Cordarrelle Patterson - Jonathan Baldwin. Jonathan Baldwin - Cordarrelle Patterson. Wonder which one brings smiles to Matt Cassel and which one... okay...

Ya know, I'm going to say it now. I'm going to say it right now.

I've always spoken highly of Clark Hunt, and I'd like to give John Dorsey the benefit of the doubt for doing his very best to make the best personnel decisions he can. He hasn't been around for long, so we'll see.

But damn, if this team doesn't get some overall organizational stability for a long period of time like a Steelers or a Patriots have had, and if this team does not actually do something to strengthen its long-term draft cohesion by avoiding yawning gaffes like the Baldwin pick and all of our 2009 draft set, then the Chiefs can never truly be considered in the contender class. They just can't.

Yes, we have to let Dorsey have his shot. Yes we have to see if Clark has now learned enough to make sure it's all extraordinarily top notch for years and years to come. I'm very afraid it'll take that long for me to again really say that we've got what it takes, and damn, reasonably so.

It just can't be denied. Today was an ugly, ugly day in our history. Yeah, call me melodramatic, that's cool, I can take it. But I'm afraid there will be lots of time here in the season for me to put together The Wide Receiver Project and we may just find it just as gruesome as The Quarterback Project.
_

And again, just for more ugliness if you dare look, here's my original Chiefs Game Today post for today's game.
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Titans at Chiefs - Week 1 - Record: 0-1

Well that was an ugly nffgcknk.

It'd be nice for once, ya know? For once it'd be really nice for us to have a dominant team from the start of a season to the end. Just to have things go smoothly, everything running like clockwork, come out of the gate with a comfortable 31-7 win, convince people we were for real on the way to a 12-4 record and -- I know, how ambitious: at least one single playoff win -- at least.

I thought we'd maybe have a shot at that this year. We've got true football studs in people like Eric Berry, Anthony Fasano, Justin Houston, Dontari Poe, Travis Kelce, Knile Davis, and yeah, even Alex Smith though you wouldn't know it from today. Yeah, I'd like to think there are a few others, but well, this was ugly.

Smith had a miserable game and we could go into all the reasons why. Smith himself was subpar, but his offensive line was awful, our receivers were awful, so what do you expect. Jamaal Charles couldn't go anywhere. Our defense was very bendy, a lot because we just have a very weak defensive backfield. And having key injuries to key people like Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito when you just cannot afford them in any way didn't help.

There are another dozen or so very very ugly nfffkgcknkking things I could paste all over this post, but I just want to mention another thing -- in fact in my opinion it is one of the ugliest things among them all. Yes, injuries and poor behavior that cause suspensions and things are pretty bad, but in my view this here is right up there. I've always thought so, and if you'll indulge me I'm going to light into it again. I know not a whole lot of people agree with me, but let's get right to it.

One of the worst things ever is

Free agency.

Even after the end of our season last year, one that ended in such traumatically ugly fashion, I actually thought we were set for a great year this year. We had depth, we had promise, we had a brand spankin' new front office group to make the best decisions about player stuff, and wow! With free agency (yeah, thought we'd actually benefit from it) we could sign a couple players to fill holes.

Well, the truth is,

Free agency crushed us instead.

And it wasn't just free agency. It was the asinine attempt to solve the crappiness of free agency:

A salary cap.

Again, after very eagerly thinking about who we could get in the free agent market to fill holes, I watched Branden Albert go, Jon Asamoah go, Dexter McCluster go, Tyson Jackson go, and... who else. I know I'm forgetting someone.

The result? A hash of players trying to get together and play together and -- damn, with pro football you desperately need consistency through the years, and when a team has that much disruption, fergetaboudit.

The most telling evidence was what happened with our offensive line today. It was a disaster. Smith couldn't get untracked, Charles didn't go anywhere.

Then there were the salary cap room-makers. First releasing Brandon Flowers, then Ryan Succop. Our defensive backfield today was predictably softer than a marshmallow, and Succop was splendid hitting four straight-down-the-middle field goals today for... the Titans. Meanwhile our new rookie FG kicker boinked two off the upright. One fortunately went in -- guess there's that.

So yeah.

The Curse, a wretched part of it just plain the whole free agency thing, starts very early for us this year.
_

Monday, September 01, 2014

Chiefs Preview 2014 - The 19-0 Team or the 0-16 Team?

When your team loses 57-0, people always say, "Whupp, at least you didn't lose a close heartbreaker." When your team loses 24-23 on a last-second 73-yard hook-and-ladder, they say, "Whupp, at least you were always in the game and didn't get clobbered."

Seems like either one is wretched. Sure enough, if you were to apply that to seasons, the Chiefs got to endure both, consecutively, in 2012 and 2013. Two years ago the team was never in it, blasted away from day one. That was fun. Last year we were extraordinarily competitive for 16 and 3/4 of the games, until that traumatic 4th quarter in Indianapolis. That was just as fun.

So yeah, with apologies to Charles Dickens, it was the worst of years, and, um, it was the worst of years.

So here we have 2014, with hopes high because of that very strong 2013 regular season campaign. But then, our preseason showing this fall was abysmal, and the Chiefs franchise value has dropped from mid-pack to 24th. What's with this? Can we truly gauge the value of this team?

So without further ado, here's the Dave Beck take on the 2014 Chiefs. I do feel they are good enough to be 19-0, I really do. But then, sometimes I look at them and go, ergcck, they'll be 0-16. I'll write it all up side-by-side, covering five different categories.

Management

The 19-0 team.

Clark Hunt has been and still is an extraordinarily devoted owner, very active in the community, deeply interested in the prospects of his team and doing what it takes to get them competitive. Andy Reid is definitely one of the best pre-game arrangers and in-game adjusters there is. And John Dorsey is making bold moves, such as releasing super-Chief Brandon Flowers for the greater good of the whole team. He's brought a sense of stability and enthusiasm back to the front office, something the Chiefs have desperately needed for a long, long time.

The 0-16 team. 

John Dorsey foolishly released their best cover-man, Brandon Flowers, when the defensive backfield is very thin to begin with. And is Andy Reid over-the-hill? Will he overcome his notorious reputation for messing up the last two minutes of every game? I really think The Curse had much more to do with the playoff loss than anything Reid did or didn't do, but when it comes down to it, Reid has to take the hit for not taking care of business when the Chiefs imploded late in that game. Last year when we shot out to a 9-0 record we got a lot of breaks in close games to teams fielding second and third string quarterbacks.

Quarterback

The 19-0 team.

Alex Smith is now inked to a new massively loaded four-year deal, so he's on board for four years of blazing Chiefs glory. I know he can get us there, keep us there, get us to all revel in being there. He's experienced, smart, playing in his prime, and working under the brilliant guidance of quarterback uber-guru Reid. It's nice too that we've got a kid, Aaron Murray, who has the makings of a fine quarterback -- could it be??? A home drafted and developed guy who someday -- psyche! -- can actually win a Chiefs game? Wowwie!

The 0-16 team.

As fine as Smith is, he is still not a Chiefs drafted and developed guy. This woeful Chiefs plague carrying through the eons of history is indeed an essential part of The Curse, it just is. Smith is phenomenally talented, but the question still has to be asked: Will he ever get to the next level and be regularly spoken of in the class of Manning, Brady, Brees?.. And crap, look at that offensive line, rebuilt, unstable... and his receiving corp -- ::whimper:: If Smith has to keep scrambling for first downs no matter how spectacular his runs are, well, Steve Pelluer did that really well -- remember that? -- and, well, how many hundreds of Super Bowls did he lead us to?...

Trenches

The 19-0 team.

Dee Ford is a rookie stud. The little I saw of him in exhibition play -- raw, but fierce. Awesome. Tamba Hali still has some gas in the tank, and Justin Houston is just starting to be very, very good. With Dontari Poe anchoring the middle, I see Broncos and Chargers pockets collapsing like railroad trestles made of balsa wood. And DJ just never gets old, one of the best run-sackers in the league.

On the other side only four offensive linemen in the modern era have ever been picked No. 1 overall, and they all have gobs of Pro Bowls and are Hall-of-Famers and all that (Ron Yary, Jake Long, and Orlando Pace, BTW) That other guy? Eric Fisher, our guy. He's just getting going, and if he's even decent we'll be fine. Rodney Hudson is very good, Jeff Allen is coming around, and Jeff Linkenbach is a fine FA pickup.

The 0-16 team.

Those free agent losses are killers. Losing Branden Albert is crushing, even though my inveterate Chiefs fan uncle says "Good riddance." We've also lost Donald Stephenson for the first four games because of a PED penalty, and while that's only four games, we have to scramble the O-line and try and see where everyone fits and -- szhee, that's always a mess.

On defense, can we cover for the fine run defense of Tyson Jackson? Granted he was no great shakes -- speaking of which, now that Succop's been released, we now have no one on the team from that horrific 2009 draft class. That's very bad. Anyone decent from that class should be coming into their own right now, but -- there's no one. Not a single soul. And that was after a 2008 year when we were 2-14. Are you laughing and weeping at the same time right now?

Specialty

The 19-0 team.

Two words. Jamaal Charles. He's at the top of everyone's fantasy league draft classes, No. 1 pick overall. He should be. We've got terrific depth at running back, with Knile Davis, and Cyrus Gray is pretty good for a No. 3. The Chiefs run offense has never been an issue.

Dwayne Bowe's expressed a measure of renewed commitment, and could be very good in his last few years here as that go-to receiver. (And that one game suspension, not nearly as much of an issue in my mind as the Stephenson one.) Our tight ends are great, hey, Travis Kelce reminds me of Jimmy Graham, and he's not even the starter. De'Anthony Thomas looks like an even studlier scatback than Dexter McCluster.

Our kick return team is incredible -- I didn't even know this but I saw somewhere that our 2013 team set an NFL record last year with a 29-yard per return average. That's really cool. And on defense Eric Berry is one of the best safeties in the NFL.

And yes, can't neglect to mention our punter, Dustin Colquitt, one of the best ever, really. Yeah, he is the punter, but he does regularly pin the opponent deep and that helps the defense tremendously. This year Ray Guy was the first punter elected into the Hall of Fame, and I do remember back in the 70's just hating the way he was so instrumental to the Raiders winning all the time. He really was a factor.

The 0-16 team.

Our receivers. I'm afraid, I'm very afraid. They have shown a little bit in the preseason to give us a little bit of hope, but damn. I've railed and railed and railed about our woeful D&D quarterback misery, but you know? I've recently been thinking about something just as abysmal: our woeful drafted and developed WIDE RECEIVER misery. Not going to share it now, but I went back over all our drafted wide receivers, and you know what I found? Well, as I said, not for now -- not in mixed company. The guys out there this year -- gulp, here they are -- Donnie Avery, A.J. Jenkins, Junior Hemingway, Frankie Hammonds, and Albert Wilson (pictured). The last two were FA grabs who did stand out a bit in preseason, but that may mean nothing.

Just so you know, just so there is no misunderstanding. I expect the very best from them. I'd like the think Alex Smith will go a long way to help make them better. I'd like to think our running game will set up the passing game, as it has always traditionally been. And no matter what, they're Chiefs.

Another factor in averting the 0-16 horror relates to two key elements of Jamaal Charles' game: one, he stays injury-free, and two, he gets used more imaginatively. With our receiving core like it is and our running back situation a shining lamp on a hill, why not use Charles in receiver mode waaay more often?

Intangibles

The 19-0 team.

The Arrowhead fans are back. It is good to see sold-out games again, our people setting the legitimate stadium loudness record (sorry, but the Seattle stadium boombox doesn't count). We've also got a few more primetime television appearances to polish our credentials.

I also like the way the team has worked in comprehensive preparation specifically to beat Denver and San Diego, teams with pocket quarterbacks who really need to be pressured -- ahh Tamba Hali Justin Houston and Dee Ford -- no way Manning and Rivers are going be able to get away with it this year.

And sorry, but an old-AFL team is due, is due for a good sustained run of Super Bowl greatness. The Chiefs are ready to take that mantle.

The 0-16 team.

We have a very tough schedule this year. Look at it. We play the NFC West in our interconference games. While we've been fantastic against the NFC teams of late, the Seahawks Niners Rams Cardinals are all now very good teams. We also have the AFC East, and the Patriots Dolphins Bills Jets always hammer us. Then there's the Horse Curse, meaning if our pass rush isn't beast-above-beast, Manning and Rivers are going to carve us up as they always have. Really, look at all that. That's reasonably 0-12 right there, I'm not kidding you.

Tough schedule? I'm great with that, though. If we're going to make winning mean something, we have to beat the better teams. Let's just get the hell out there and beat them this year with our fine management, coaching, talent, skill, drive, and passion. Wait, that's a 19-0 remark. Sorry.

Thing is, we'll need all that to beat The Curse. That's critical. Should we make the playoffs? We'll need the most beast team to do it, and winning with a blistering schedule may do the trick.

Will we get into the playoffs? This year is looking a bit like 2004 to me -- I hope not. But in 2003 we surprised everyone -- started 9-0 then too -- and stormed into the playoffs. But the following year we were horribly mediocre. 19-0? 0-16? Are we a bit of each and do we finish 9-7 if we try real hard?

Then a playoff game? Can we win at least one, for once?

So what is it?

I'll close with this. In the off-season I caught two brief Chiefs related things on television, you know, NFL Network type airtime fillers. One was a single play that I think pretty much encapsulated the Chiefs in the 70's and much of the 80's. A quarterback with No. 11 took the snap, stumbled, fell down, hopped back up, then threw a duck that was summarily picked off by a Raiders linebacker and run in for a score. I didn't even know who that quarterback was until I looked it up. It was Tony Adams in 1978, just FYI (I mean, I just had to look it up and find out). The point being that I think about what people think about the Chiefs and I wonder if it is really just one big massive plotz, like that play.

On the other far, far end of the spectrum was what I saw in a story I'd never seen or heard about before, the one about Charlie's Bar in Philadelphia. Seems like this is something that is quite the NFL human interest story, and one most would know about, especially if you're a Chiefs fan. Seems Charlie's Bar there in Philadelphia, is a haven for Chiefs fans, yes, the enthusiastic rooting for all things Kansas City Chiefs. 

Seems the bar owner many years ago just up and decided, "I'm going to be a Chiefs fan." And everyone came on board. Crazy thing is, I look upon that with great warmth, but also sadness. Our Chiefs have just not done that much to merit such heartfelt devotion. And yet, that warmth, that these people still find the best in a team that deserves that devotion, no matter how much The Curse has tried valiantly to derail that affection.

There is, as always, great pride the be had about this team.

And of course, there is Leon Sandcastle. I've been meaning to put this here, because it is so much fun. It'll be a fun season, and what better way to kick it off than to share those parts of last season when Sandcastle played so astoundingly. Splendid!

Can't wait for 2014!