So help us, Lloyd Christmas, we’re telling you there’s a chance.
Oh, it’s slim. Wafer-thin, probably.
But out of the mess that was a sluggish 16-10 loss in Minnesota last weekend, a tiny, tiny, tiny gem emerged from the rough:
Adrian Peterson’s rushing line.
Namely, 26 carries, 60 yards on the ground, a clip of only 2.3 per tote. That was the lowest per-carry average for All Day AP since a 1.9-per-attempt mark at Baltimore on December 8, 2013.
If there’s hope for the Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) in Week 7 to put a five-game losing streak to bed and take out the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) at Arrowhead Stadium, it’s rooted in that line — or rather, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s front seven, the ones who put the clamps on the Vikings’ star back.
Last week, they dared Teddy Bridgewater to beat ‘em. He almost didn’t.
This time, take out “Bridgewater” and insert “Landry Jones,” the former Oklahoma quarterback and third-teamer who’s expected to make his first NFL start at Arrowhead Stadium, still proudly one of the league’s unfriendlier little confines.
If the Chiefs can sell out on Steelers tailback Le’Veon Bell (4.5 yards per carry) the way they did Peterson — and we mean SELL OUT — and put the onus on Landry alone, maybe things get more interesting. More interesting than Week 6, anyway.
Now, all that being said, we know there’s a critical difference between the Steelers and Vikings and a critical pin that could pop a little hole in the previous paragraph. Pittsburgh is pretty well stacked at wideout — hello there, Antonio Brown (ProFootballFocus.com grade: +13.1, best among AFC starters at his position) and Martavis Bryant (+4.1) — and Minnesota, well, isn’t.
When the Steelers reach the red zone, they punch it in for a touchdown 75 percent of the time, tops in the NFL. Minnesota? A less-daunting 46.7 percent, good for 24th. The Chiefs check in at 42.1 percent, or 27th in the loop.
Which makes for a fascinating little contrast, in theory. The limping, mentally wounded hosts have their starting quarterback ready to roll but no Jamaal Charles and a banged-up Jeremy Maclin coming off a week in the league’s concussion protocol. The Steelers, meanwhile, are trotting out their No. 3 signal-caller but have a full complement of toys — good toys, fun toys — for him to play with.
But even the best toys can be schemed for. While Bears tailback Matt Forte tortured the Chiefs through the air two weeks ago, on the ground, the Andy Gang did their darnedest (3.9 per carry) to make the Pro Bowler try to at least halfway earn it. If the Local 11 can give Bell similar grief, they might just have a sliver of hope. Just.