Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs – Rewind
1. How about them Raiders? Phillip Buchanon muffed a punt in the first game and then removed his helmet to show off his arrogance and stupidity on what could have been the game winning touchdown drive by the Raiders. Thanks to his bonehead play, the Chiefs defense still managed to shut down the Oakland offense and held them to a game tying field goal instead of the go ahead touchdown.
2. Cornerback Eric Warfield still has some work to do. Before they print his All-Pro tickets, Warfield for the second consecutive week was burned badly by being out of position. The week before last the Bengals Peter Warrick beat him for a touchdown and this past weekend old man Jerry Rice burned him badly for a touchdown. Warfield has closing speed but he plays too soft against opposing receivers. He's at his best when he chucks the receiver at the line and then matches him stride for stride down or across the field. When he plays ten or fifteen yards off the line of scrimmage, he can't close on the ball. He needs to knock the receiver off his route and take his chances.
3. The Chiefs defense played too soft on obvious passing plays. Too many times they rushed three down lineman and Raiders quarterback had an eternity waiting for receivers to get open on slant and crossing patterns. The Chiefs did put pressure on Mirer late in the game and that helped shake up his rhythm. The Chiefs run defense made some strides on Sunday. If they stop trying to strip the ball and trap the runner, the yardage totals will shrink each game out.
4. What can you say about Trent Green. His two minute performance in each half was flawless. In the first half, he completed six consecutive passes that culminated with a touchdown to Jason Dunn. In the games final two minutes, Green hit Marc Boerigter for a 16 yard gain on fourth and fourteen. That was huge considering Johnnie Morton dropped a perfect pass from Green that would have given the Chiefs the ball at the Raiders ten yard line with a timeout and first and goal. Green might be the NFL's second best passer behind the Titans Steve McNair.
5. Priest Holmes added another touchdown but he and running mate Derrick Blaylock were the offensive show in the first half. Holmes had 91 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving. Blaylock had 40 yards rushing including a 25-yard touchdown run and also caught three balls for thirteen yards. It was his best games as a Chief as he continues to fight off first round draft pick Larry Johnson for playing time.
6. Scott Fujita had another solid game with ten solo tackles. He leads the team in tackles and he's stepped up his game while the Chiefs other linebackers did not have their best games. Shawn Barber hurt his wrist but had seven solo tackles and rookie Kawika Mitchell had five tackles in his first NFL start. Mitchell will need to step up and learn the NFL system fast. He is the future at middle linebacker and his time might be now considering the injuries keep mounting on Mike Maslowski.
7. Punting! Jason Baker was awful. The Chiefs young punter has the talent but he appears to be lacking in nerves. He can do it on the practice field but he can't produce the same results on Sundays. The Chiefs need a better performance out of Baker but replacing him isn't an option. He has the responsibility for being the holder for Morton Andersen on field goal attempts and also handles kick-offs. I will say this. The Chiefs won't lose a game because of their punter. They'll lose it because of a poor offense or defense performance. The punter is important and if anyone can snap him out of his funk, it'll be Vermeil. He might just have to let him punt and instead of trying to get him to directional kick. Kick the damn ball and send the guys down to cover. It's that simple.
8. The Chiefs now hold a 43-42-2 record against the Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs won both games this season after the Raiders had done that two out of the last three years. The win on Sunday was the Chiefs 11th consecutive which ties a franchise record.
9. Kudos to Jerry Rice. His 47-yard touchdown catch and run in the fourth quarter was his 1500th career reception. Nobody will ever break the records of Jerry Rice. He is the best wide receiver to ever play the game. Nobody had more of a consistent impact at the position since Lance Alworth back in the 60's. Rice is truly a fine oiled machine and its too bad he ended his career as a Raider where his dreams were left unfulfilled.
10. Dante Hall narrowly broke open two separate returns but his kick-off return late in the fourth quarter was very impressive. His 44-yard return put the Chiefs in great field position and there is no doubt that he will eventually score another touchdown this season. He admitted after the Raiders game that it was on his mind. He's tired of people talking about the record that currently he shares with five other people with four returns for scores in the same season. Might this be the week?
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers
1. Pass the ball. Pass the ball and if you want to win this game going away, you pass it some more. The Chargers have the worst pass defense this side of college football. Their youngsters are making mistakes, the defensive line doesn't get pressure on the quarterback and the linebackers are standing around. They let the Bengals Jon Kitna throw four touchdowns, three of them to Chad Johnson in the first half. Trent Green should have numerous opportunities to have success in the passing game and this could be the game that he throws for more than 400 yards.
2. The Chiefs did a great job stopping LaDainian Tomlinson in their first meeting. Tomlinson was shut down and the Chiefs did a good job collapsing around him and keeping him from running the ball to the outside. Kansas City must do that again. With the Chargers likely to start Doug Flutie, the Chiefs must shut down Tomlinson so Flutie has to beat them.
3. Speaking of Flutie. He's looked awful the last two weeks since his impressive start against the Vikings. After being manhandled in Denver the week before last and this past Sunday against the Bengals, I can't figure out why Flutie does not hang up his cleats. He has no business playing in the NFL and the Chargers are better served giving Drew Brees some valuable playing time. But I'm not the coach and neither will Marty Schottenheimer be after the year is out.
4. David Boston continues to be impressive. He caught nine balls for 139 yards against the Bengals and it appears he's looking for new digs next year. With a strong finish, the Chargers are likely to release him so he can catch on with another team. The Chiefs need to stop Boston from having a big game. His success the past several weeks has been his ability to get off the line. Warfield or McCleon must shove him at the line of scrimmage and disrupt his patterns. If not, then he could have a big day.
5. It's very important for the Chiefs to dominate this game in every quarter. They can't let up on the Chargers who have already been eliminated from the AFC West to be in this game. They were unable to knock out the Raiders and they must do so this year. Last year in San Diego the Chiefs were plus (three) in turnovers and still lost the game because they lacked the killer attitude to knock the Chargers out when they had the chance. The Chiefs can't afford to lose this game.
6. Last years Chargers game was the debut for Marc Boerigter who had two touchdown catches and this game was the birth of his magnificent season. With drops by Johnnie Morton and Eddie Kennison in key situations the last several weeks, Boerigter's big catch against the Raiders makes him a strong option for this game. He runs routes better than Kennison and has better hands than Morton but injuries have kept him from playing more the last two weeks. This might be the game to make him the focal point of the passing game.
7. The San Diego Chargers have given up 314 points this season. That's the most in the NFL. The Chiefs should be able to exploit the Chargers defense on every play. Marty Schottenheimer defenses normally are better at giving up points but this year the Chargers are playing with little passion. The Chiefs can't fall into any traps of momentum. There is no reason the Chiefs can't score on every offensive possession.
8. The Chiefs have split the season series with the Chargers six of the last nine seasons. The last time the Chiefs swept San Diego was in 2001. If the Chiefs win this game on Sunday, they will clinch a tie for the AFC West. If the Denver Broncos lose at Oakland and the Chiefs win, the AFC West title belongs to the Chiefs.
9. Jason Baker should have a strong game with the weather being warmer than it was in Kansas City last weekend and in Cincinnati the week before that. It will be interesting to see of the Baker can shake off the punting problems of the last two games.
10. I also think, and I say this a lot, if Larry Johnson is activated this week that he might play a considerable amount in the second half of this game. Dick Vermeil said in his weekly media session on Tuesday that Johnson is the second best running back on the team. He's just not up to NFL speed yet but when he does, this kid is going to be special.
Around the AFC West
1. Where else to start but in Denver. With the Broncos embarrassing home loss to the Chicago Bears 19-10 on Sunday, the fans are calling for the head of Mike Shanahan. His reputation was attacked seconds after the loss and with Jake Plummer struggling once again and the suspension of Darryl Gardener after his outburst this past week, Shanahan is dangerously close to once again missing the playoffs.
2. Poor Jake Plummer. The man clearly can't throw the ball in cold weather. After a stellar return to the lineup a week ago against the San Diego Chargers, he fell flat on his tail against the Bears swarming defense. He was only 19 of 35 for 176 yards. He looked out of sync and out of place and appeared to be longing for a warmer climate.
3. Clinton Portis continues to be impressive but he can't carry the offense on his own. With Plummer struggling Portis ran for 165 yards but was nicked up in the game. Portis can't be the workhorse not with his slender frame. With Mike Anderson still on a four game suspension for violating the NFL's drug policy, Portis has to do his best the next two games without Anderson to spell him.
4. The Broncos are now sitting on the outside looking in on the playoffs. With their loss to the Bears and the Dolphins win over the Redskins, Denver is sitting at 6-5 with three AFC losses. They play the Raiders then the Chiefs the next two weeks and unless they win them both, it's likely they'll be home for the holidays.
5. San Diego continues to mired in a brutal slump. They've lost 16 of their last 20 games dating back to last season and stand just 2-9 on the season. Marty Schottenheimer has lost control of the team and his quote after the game was priceless. When asked about the frustration of the season he quipped, "I don't think frustration is a good enough word." I wonder what words he had in mind.
6. As I stated before, Flutie is too old to be an NFL quarterback. If he's not careful he could get seriously injured. He does not have the arm strength to sling the ball all over the field and defenses are collapsing the pocket and taking the underneath routes away so he has little choice but to throw the ball away to avoid a sack.
7. Drew Brees has to be wondering why he isn't getting the ball. If he is indeed the franchise quarterback, then how come the franchise is getting splinters in his tail? Thanks to Schottenheimer's inept coaching, Brees has wasted another season learning the NFL ropes. Quite likely the Chargers will move him in the off-season.
8. I have to give props to Raiders head coach Bill Callahan for a great game plan against the Chiefs on Sunday. Other than not running the ball at the end of the game on the teams final possession, he called a masterful game and almost upset the Chiefs.
9. Cornerback Phillip Buchanon wins the ‘Dwayne Rudd Award' this week for removing his helmet. Instead of the ball at the Chiefs 26-yard line, his penalty pushed the ball at the Chiefs 41-yard line and killed the Raiders knock out momentum.
10. This is pre-mature of me to assume but if cornerback Charles Woodson indeed becomes a free agent, the Chiefs should lure him to Kansas City. In the NFL, you need three strong cornerbacks and Woodson would give the Chiefs the three best all around cornerbacks in the AFC West.