1. The number of losses the Chiefs have had during the regular season. I'm not usually this classless but its one more than the team should have this year. The Bengals seemed to guess right on every play and the Chiefs brought their ‘C' game to Cincinnati and they very narrowly pulled the game out. One more Chiefs possession and the game would have gone to the Chiefs.
2. I have to give props to Chad Johnson. Not only did he stand by his words about a Chiefs win on Sunday but he backed it up. He raised the level of the team and squarely put all the pressure and excuses on his shoulders. For that, the Bengals organization not known for spending money rewarded Johnson with a five-year contract extension and now he has $10 million reasons to be thankful. I think for a young team trying to find themselves that their was nothing wrong with Johnson's verbal banter. Some of the veterans got him pretty good but he never backed down all week and that's the sign of incredibly positive person or someone so naïve he just got the team to give him $25 million over the next five years. Not bad at all!
3. Rudi Johnson reminds me of a young Earl Campbell. He has so much power in his legs. The Chiefs found that out the hard way as they rarely hit him head on. Too many times Chiefs defensive backs; linebackers and defensive lineman left their feet and tried to bring him down. Instead Johnson wore the Chiefs defense down and led a Bengals rushing attack. His long run in the fourth quarter was the difference in the game. He knew that if the Bengals were stopped by the Chiefs defense and had to give the ball back, the outcome would have been different.
4. It's about time and unfortunate for the Chiefs but Peter Warrick has all the tools to be a great playmaker in the NFL. His third down pass catching efficiency is amazing. He has a knack at finding the first down marker and getting open. His punt return was Dante Hallesque and he could be the difference maker for the Bengals the rest of the season.
5. Priest Holmes had a bad rushing day. The injury to Tony Richardson and his inability to use his hands to block for Holmes had a lot to do with that lack of success in the Chiefs running game. It also didn't help that starting guard Brian Waters left the game with a shoulder injury. I hear Holmes had a nice speech today during team meetings and I doubt the Chiefs running game will ever have a performance like that again this season.
6.Jason Baker is struggling. The Chiefs have to be very concerned that he can't punt the ball consistently more than 35 yards. His hang time has been all over the board this season and it's important that he drive the ball farther and with more accuracy. The Chiefs can overcome bad field position but their opponents don't have the same offensive capabilities. The Chiefs are out of options so Baker has to step up. He also has to do a much better job on kick-offs. He routinely was only able to get the ball to the twenty-yard line and when he kicked it deep, he had good success. I know the field stunk in Cincinnati so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for this game.
7. It was good to see Vonnie Holliday get a sack and also make some nice tackles defending the run. He was one of the bright spots on defense against the Bengals. His motor never stopped even when Rudi Johnson broke away from the defensive line and he has the best hands of the entire defensive lineman. Holliday was hustling. If he can get to double digit sacks this year, the Chiefs will be very pleased.
8. Greg Wesley once again had a great game. He was a very effective blitzer recording a sack getting a sack. The Chiefs need to cut him loose more often. He also saved a sure touchdown in the second quarter by Rudi Johnson. He knocked him out of bounds at the 11-yard line and the defense held the Bengals to a field goal. This free agent to be is playing at an all-pro level.
9. I was miffed at first about Priest Holmes comments after the game about the Bengals organization. He was very complimentary of the players and especially Marvin Lewis but he had issues with Bengals management. For years the stronghold of the Brown family has yielded one losing season after another and the penny-pinching by ownership has led to several holdouts and player upheaval. But I think Holmes was commenting that the Bengals might be on the rise but 5-5 means very little and you earn respect by winning year after year. Plus I think Holmes just wanted to take a shot at Brown management and remind them that they have a good thing going so don't blow it now.
10. Major props to Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil. He took the blame for the loss and he wanted to taste NFL history. With the loss to the Bengals, Vermeil will not be part of an undefeated team. He wore the mantle proud the last nine weeks and by his own admission would have been glad to carry the weight of a perfect season on his shoulders for the balance of the season. Regardless, the job he's done keeping them focused this long has been his most impressive coaching achievement in his tenure in Kansas City.
Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs
1. Raiders week is always special. This week has even more significance. With a Chiefs victory they can eliminate Oakland from any chance at a miracle division title. But the Chiefs are the new kings of the AFC West so this is an important game as they hope to carry the torch the next several years. With their depleted quarterback situation, the Chiefs should be in good shape to move to 4-0 in the AFC West.
2. Everyone thought Rick Mirer was playing in the Arena League but he's now the Raiders top signal caller by default. The Chiefs knocked Rich Gannon onto the disabled list when they beat the Raiders in Oakland 17-10. Marquez Tuiasosopo, the heir apparent to Gannon, also made the list and is out. So Meier is the man in charge of the offense. He won't pass much since the Raiders will try and runt the ball eight or nine times out ten. For the record Mirer is 0-2 in Arrowhead in his career.
3. This might be the last time Chiefs fans will see players like Tim Brown, Jerry Rice and the other usual suspects. Though Brown has killed the Chiefs in the past, the home crowd should pay homage to one of the best wide receivers ever to play in the NFL. Nobody and I mean nobody is better at running crossing patterns than Brown in his prime. He was tough and entertaining.
4. In Oakland a few weeks ago, the Raiders did not kick to Dante Hall. With a depleted passing game and a bland offense, the Raiders might be forced to kick to him more often. Hall wants to get his fifth return in front of the home crowd and he should get some chances this week. The Raiders tackling on special teams is not the best in the NFL and the Chiefs should be able to set up some wide open lanes for Hall to run through.
5. Another player who should have a big game is quarterback Trent Green. He has had three 300-yard passing games in three of his last four games. The Raiders secondary is not as talented as the Browns and Bills and they certainly don't have the hearts of the Bengals. Green was affective moving the ball between the 20's in their meeting in Oakland but finding the end zone was something the Chiefs offense found very difficult to do against a fired up Raiders defense. Expect Green to whip up on the Raiders on Sunday.
6. The running combination of Charlie Garner, Tyrone Wheatley, Zach Crockett and Justin Fargas could be a daunting task for the Chiefs run defense to hold. After Rudi Johnson lit them up this past Sunday, the Raiders quartet will rotate often and try and establish control in the trenches. But knowing Mirer is anything but an average passer, the Chiefs will likely play eight to nine guys in the box and try and shut the run down.
7. An interesting tidbit from our crack staff was intrigued that after the loss to the Bengals on Sunday it was reminiscent of the Bengals win over the Chiefs in 1969 by the exact same score. This Sunday 34 years to the exact day the Raiders beat the Chiefs on November 23, 1969 by the score of 27-24. Now if Darryl Lamonica and Fred Belitnikoff were playing on Sunday, I would be worried.
8. The Chiefs are undefeated at home and they have not beat the Raiders twice in a season since 1997. The bitterest defeat in recent history was back in the 1999 season on the final Sunday of the year. The Raiders fought back and won 41-38 in overtime thus knocking the Chiefs out of the playoffs and costing them a chance to win the AFC West.
9. The Chiefs over their last ten games at home, all wins I might add have been very stringent giving up points. Dating back to last season the Chiefs at home are only allowing their opponents 14 points per contest. If that trend continues with their first three remaining home games of the season, the Chiefs would go undefeated at home for the first time in franchise history.
10. On Sunday the Chiefs will get the #1 CBS crew of Greg Gumbel, Phil Simms and Armen Keteyian . The game is a 3:15 start and is the feature game of the week. In their only other game in Kansas City this year, the CBS lead crew watched the Chiefs whip up on the San Diego Chargers 24-14 opening day. This will be the last CBS game at home on television this year until the playoffs.
Around the AFC West
1. Don't look now but the Denver Broncos have a new starting quarterback. Ok he's not new but Jake ‘the snake' Plummer is back in charge of the high powered Broncos offense. He threw three touchdown passes all to tight end Shannon Sharpe in their convincing 37-8 pasting of the Chargers.
2. Speaking of Sharpe after the game on Sunday he confirmed that this will probably be his last season in the NFL. He plans to retire. Sharpe has been colorful, entertaining and outside of Tony Gonzalez, no other tight end has been productive. He leads the NFL in career receptions and touchdowns by a tight end and only Gonzalez has a chance of catching him. Say what you want about the words that matriculate out of his mouth, he still plays at a high level and he reset the standards for all tight ends to follow.
3. Clinton Portis continues to be a workhorse for the Broncos. He carried the ball 25 times on Sunday and gained 106 yards. The Broncos were effective in sustaining long drives and that was pivotal in their win.
4. Rod Smith had a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown on Sunday and with the benching of Deltha O'Neal as the teams primary returner, Smith adjusted well to his new return duties.
5. The Doug Flutie experiment could not sustain a two game winning streak. After the Flutie led Chargers trounced the Minnesota Vikings a week ago, San Diego head coach Marty Schottenheimer named Flutie the started against the Broncos. But he was ineffective and looked every bit over the hill. He managed only 70 yards passing on 9 of 25 attempts. .
6. Speaking of their quarterback situation, Drew Brees has to be wondering if he'll ever get another start this season in San Diego. Schottenheimer needs wins to save his job but from what we hear the Chargers head coach will be fired at the end of the season. Brees might ask for a trade or to be released outright if Schottenheimer somehow convinces the Spanos family to keep him. Schottenheimer has never developed a starting quarterback outside of Bernie Kosar and his reputation for not sticking with his younger plays is haunting him in San Diego.
7. Another missing ingredient in the Chargers arsenal is running back LaDainian Tomlinson. He only carried the ball eight times and gained just 29 yards. The Chargers need to get back to making him the focal point of the offense.
8. The Raiders finally won a game as they defeated the Minnesota Vikings 28-18 at home. The Vikings after a 6-0 start has lost four games in a row and the Raiders with their steady diet of running plays managed to get their third win of the season.
9. The Raiders ran the ball 43 times for 191 yards against the much maligned Vikings defense. The no-longer Purple People Eaters showed less of an ability to tackle than the Chiefs did last weekend in trying to stop the run. When they ventured to put nine guys in the box, the Raiders busted open huge gains with their four backs.
10. Next Sunday the Chargers host the Cincinnati Bengals and the Broncos who are in a stretch of five of six games at home host the Chicago Bears.