Five Things I Think: Now It's a Must Win

In this edition of Five Things, we explore the Chargers lay up, what we're going to be watching on TV Thursday night, the value of QB Matt Cassel to this franchise, the Chiefs fickle fan base, plus my NFT of the week.

1. Why didn't we see a game plan against the Chargers? - Do you really want to know that answer? Remember in the Chiefs first two games how vanilla the offense was in wins over San Diego and Cleveland? It was that way because offensive coordinator Charlie Weis didn't have much faith in Quarterback Matt Cassel.

And that same sentiment applied to back-up Brodie Croyle on Sunday. I'm not going to belabor this point because I spelled it out in my post game column. But it bears worth repeating. It's clear that as the week unfolded that Croyle wasn't grasping what the coaches wanted him to do on Sunday.

In other words, he wasn't able to execute their game plan. And that more than anything else is what drove the lifeless offense on Sunday. The plan instead was to get Croyle some game experience in the event he's needed this weekend against the Rams. Nothing more or less.

Honestly, there is no other way to explain the decision by Weis and Head Coach Todd Haley, to go so plain, boring and unimaginative in regards to the plays they called on for Croyle.

And after the team went down by a pair of touchdowns, it was obvious that Croyle wasn't going to crack midfield on his own. That's not really a knock on Croyle but more based on the fact the Chargers defense came to play. The Chiefs offense didn't.

Had the Chiefs done the same then maybe Croyle's day would have been more efficient and respectable. But 40 yards passing isn't going to get it done. Still the fact Croyle played as poorly as he did, this should put to rest the quarterback questions in Kansas City.

2. Must See TV! - On Thursday night, those that don't subscribe to the NFL Network are going to regret it. That's because the San Diego Chargers, fresh off their Chiefs whooping, have their sights set on doing it again, this time to the San Francisco 49ers.

S.F. 49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary has his team one game out of the top spot in the NFC West.
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The 5-8 San Francisco 49ers are just one game back of the division lead in the NFC West. The St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks are tied for the top spot with a sub-par 6-7 records. That means should the 49ers win their remaining three games (at San Diego, at St. Louis and at home against Seattle), they'll win the NFC West with an 8-8 record.

So Thursday nights game is really a do or die situation for the 49ers. Should they win, the Rams will find themselves in a must win game against the Chiefs. All in all it's great drama.

Sure the Chiefs could have avoided the scoreboard watching this week had they just won at San Diego, but that's not the case. And you know what, long term that might not be a bad thing for this football team. They're getting a first hand look at what champions, like the Chargers do, when they have their backs against the wall.

Whatever the outcome, I'll be watching the game, and probably like most of you, I'll be screaming at my HDTV and cursing the 49ers lackluster performance. But then again, just a week ago, the bay areas other NFL team the Oakland Raiders, did what the 49ers could do on Thursday, upset the Chargers. Hey its possible!

Now that would indeed be must see TV. And to add fuel to the fire, I still say the Chiefs, despite their poor performance on Sunday, are a better all around football team than the Chargers.

3. I Miss Matt - For the first time in the history of the organization, I can say that the Kansas City Chiefs have a young franchise quarterback. In case some of you are wondering who that might be - his name is Matt Cassel.

On Sunday, I half expected Cassel to charter a private plane from Kansas City and show up in a Chiefs uniform. Had he done that, I'd have given him a key to the city. Right now he's key to the Chiefs chances of making the playoffs and even further, keeping them in the post season tournament for more than a cup of coffee this year.

His value to this team is immeasurable. But after watching the offense on Sunday, he's the type of quarterback that this city and team needs to rally behind. That is of course, should both choose to do it.

But I really believe that if Cassel plays Sunday, wins at St. Louis (which I expect on both accounts), that he'll move somewhere near the Trent Green range. He's never going to climb into the Len Dawson category that is until he wins a Super Bowl, but had Green's teams had a defense, it's likely he would have won a title in Kansas City.

Should we compare Matt Cassel to Trent Green?
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And based on the Chiefs vastly improved defense, he has a better shot at getting to the Super Bowl than Green ever had.

Right now there is NO question that Cassel is the best quarterback this franchise has had under center since Green. And should he guide the Chiefs to three straight wins, as he's already done twice this season, in my book he's the man to lead this organization for the foreseeable future.

4. Fickle or Angry? – I have a hard time reading the Chiefs fan base. On Sunday, there was a lot of the ‘sky is falling' sarcasm to lead me to believe most think the Chiefs are out of the hunt for an AFC West title.

Others were more steady. Some said that it was just one game and the Chiefs control their own path to the playoffs. And honestly, that's the way it should be.

And as fans do you really want the Chiefs to back into the playoffs? Would you not rather they be forced in the position they are in today, by needing to win out to make the playoffs.

I know I would because I want to see how they comeback from their most recent adversity. They've already been far more resilient this season than anyone expected. And that has to do with a wide variety of factors. The biggest however, is how much the players care about winning and losing.

After the game Sunday, they were honest in their own self-evaluation. They knew they didn't come to play. And that's the mark of a team that gets it. Dealing with downs of an NFL season is much more difficult than the ups.

So my money is on the Chiefs coming out of Sunday's lost with a new sense of vigor and determination. But that's one mans opinion.

Either way the fan base is going to likely be less positive until the Chiefs rise above their misfortunes and climb out of the hibernation this organization has been in since 2003.

5. Dayton Moore's Catbird Seat - You have to admit that when Cliff Lee decided to re-join the Philadelphia Phillies late Monday night, that Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore quietly uncorked a bottle of champagne.

Dayton Moore played the Zack card to perfection.
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He had one blue chip card to play this offseason and that was dangling Pitcher Zach Greinke to the highest bidder. With Lee off the market, Moore's phone is going to be, if it's not already, ringing off the hook. Sure Carl Pavano is the best FREE agent pitcher on the market. But he isn't Zack!

The New York Yankees have completely botched their entire offseason and in my view they are the third best team in the AL East behind Boston and Tampa Bay.

The Texas Rangers, who traded for Lee midseason, were expected to regain his services. But in the end Lee went for less money to a place he was more comfortable. And you know what, I give him major props. Plus who wants to pitch in that humidity night after night in the middle of summer.

Besides what's the real difference between $120 million and $145 million?

All that said, Moore can now increase his demands for a quartet of players that will only increase the value of his already abundant of riches in the minor leagues.

The Royals have the top farm system in baseball and they're quickly becoming kings of the Latino market as well. They've spent their dollars wisely drafting, signing and sifting out young players that someday can make the Royals the talk of baseball.

But in order to expedite that plan, he must trade Zack. And right now the Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, the Yankees and Rangers are going to have to outbid one another to get the second best pitcher available this offeseason.

If not one of them will sign Pavano in the neighborhood of $10 million a season. But that still leaves other teams fighting for the soon to be ex-Royals pitcher. And one of them will reach for it because contending teams won't be able to help themselves.

Either way, Moore played this game perfectly.

WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
What happens Sunday if Cassel can't play Sunday?

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