Yes the Chiefs offense looked out-of-sync at times and the defense once again played without putting any pressure on Raiders quarterback Rick Mirer. But Dante Hall had some nice returns and the defense did prevent the Raiders from scoring a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
You add up all those little ingredients and the Chiefs have a four game lead in AFC West and a one game lead for home field advantage. But still people want to find fault with the Chiefs victory and head coach Dick Vermeil will solve the shortcomings. But despite those who still want to complain remember that this is Kansas City not San Diego, Oakland or Denver.
All in all it was a win and at the end of the season that's the only statistical absolute; wins and losses. At the end of the season, that determines if you're in the playoffs, sitting at home or making vacation plans. It also determines home field advantage, slotting and represents the second stage of getting to the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs have yet to complete stage one. The magic number to win the AFC West is two. A combination of another Chiefs win and another Broncos loss and the division is wrapped up. The Chiefs play the Chargers this weekend in San Diego and the Raiders host the Broncos. If the Chiefs win and the Broncos lose, then the AFC West belongs to the Chiefs.
Yesterday the Chiefs did what they had to do. They opened up a 21-7 lead on the Raiders but Oakland didn't give up nor did the Chiefs. Yes it was sluggish, the defense instead of wrapping their arms around the Raiders running backs, they tried stripping the ball. That can be corrected with an emphasis in practice to stopping the runner first and the other guys piling on trying to rip the ball from the backs hands.
The Chiefs should do a better job of recognizing that when only one pass receiver is in a route, that it better not blitz the other ten guys so Eric Warfield is exposed in one-on-one coverage. Had Jerome Woods or Greg Wesley backed off, Mirer would not have completed his touchdown pass to Jerry Rice since the play had no other receiver in the pattern.
But that didn't happen and the Chiefs were burned and Warfield was once again out of position. He also went for the ball instead of staying with his man; an old man at that who Warfield should be able to handle on any given snap. Rice will be regarded as the greatest receiver of all time but he's not the greatest or close to it any longer.
The bigger question for the Chiefs defense and their coordinator Greg Robinson, should be the desire to rush only three lineman in third and long plays. Three guys were being blocked by six guys and Mirer had all day to pick apart the Chiefs inept zone coverages. The Chiefs did a poor job of filling passing lanes and the Raiders slant patterns were open on every play.
The Chiefs routinely pushed the receiver to the middle only making it easy for Mirer to hit them. The Chiefs had no underneath help from the linebackers. I don't think the word bump and run exists in the Chiefs defensive playbook. The lack of physicality by the Kansas City corners is of great concern.
It's not that they don't have the ability but the defensive coaches is too worried about giving up a big play that it allows opposing teams with great ease to get ten yards every three plays. This makes the defense tired and kills any momentum that the offense gives the defense.
Again, this can be corrected and it will be done before Sunday's game against the Chargers or the following week against the Broncos.
The offense was impressive when they used Priest Holmes and Derrick Blaylock. But their starting wide receivers Eddie Kennison and Johnnie Morton dropped sure first down catches and little used Marc Boerigter saved the day with two clutch catches on the field goal drive.
Trent Green did not throw any interceptions and his calmness in the two-minute drill is reminiscent of Lenny ‘The Cool' Dawson. The similarities are uncanny and Green's fourth down pass to Boerigter won't bring back memories of Otis Taylor but Green is Mr. Clutch.
Still the offense for the most part outside of the last two minutes of each half needs improvement. They need to get their wide receivers into the game earlier so they can be more effective late if you need them. But the Chiefs should and probably install more of the no-huddle, four wide receiver set offense in hopes of burying teams on the ropes.
I understand getting the ball to Holmes but big chunks of yards and first downs come from hitting your receivers and tight ends consistently. They will have five more games to work on that flaw and they'll get it corrected.
On special teams, punter Jason Baker is struggling. He barely averages thirty yards per punt and though he booms them in practice; he can't do it in games.
What can the Chiefs do?
Find another punter?
It's possible but that means the Chiefs would need to rely on Morten Andersen to handle kick-offs. That's not the answer.
The Chiefs will probably slide a couple of punters into town on Tuesday just to light a fire under Baker. He has the talent, the tools and the ability to be an NFL punter. But it's not clicking. It can be corrected. It will be corrected.
Dante Hall nearly broke two returns for touchdowns as the pressure mounts for him to get one for the thumb. His last return after the Raiders tied the score at 24 gave the Chiefs great field position. His value to the team can't be measured. He is the MVP. But that's a topic for another day.
The Chiefs need to complete Stage one. If they win out the next two weeks, the Chiefs will only need to win two of their final three games against the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears to win home field advantage.
It's that simple. This week the New England Patriots play on the road at Indianapolis and the Tennessee Titans without Steve McNair go on the road to face the Jets next Monday Night.
The following week the Colts play at Tennessee and the Patriots play host to their division rival Miami. So it's very simple. The Chiefs need to win their next two games and they are a lock for home field advantage.
If they want it bad enough, they'll take the next two games seriously. They will not let up nor play down to the level of competition.
The Chargers are the worst team in the NFL with the best talent. The Broncos are equally as bad because they are relying on a quarterback who has never won at any level of professional sports.
The Chiefs have all the pieces in place with room for improvement to still get to the Super Bowl. That's a far better place to be than most NFL teams this time of the year.
The run defense, punting and offense will all get better. The Chiefs have taken the hardest hits, best shots of every team this year and they've beaten them ten out of eleven of them.
They've won all their games at home and lost only one road game. They are winning close games during the regular season and they will be ready for close playoff games. All the contenders won close games against lesser quality opponents than what the Chiefs faced on Sunday.
Now is not the time to complain. This is a marathon not a sprint. This is only Stage #1. The playoffs are a lock, the AFC West is a lock and now playing at Arrowhead in the post season is the task.
If that happens, then Chiefs will be in Stage two. Until then nothing else matters except winning games. It doesn't matter if it's by one point or thirty points. A win is much more important than yards given up, gained or opportunities wasted.
The Chiefs control their own destiny.