Nuge's Nuggets: Chiefs Get Back On Track

It wasn't the prettiest game, but for a Kansas City Chiefs team that had lost three straight games, it was a beautiful win. The Chiefs beat the Raiders 20-9 in Oakland, keeping their strictly mathematical playoff hopes alive, but at times it was difficult to tell if Raiders actually wanted to win this game.

The Chiefs sure wanted it. They went for it three times on fourth down, showing a deep disregard for Oakland's ability to win the football game. It was beautiful. The Chiefs may have found that confident disdain that good teams always have for struggling opponents. That's the sort of attitude, tempered by focus, that you want a team to have. It led to the Chiefs finally getting a road win in December.

The Raiders gave the Chiefs several early Christmas gifts. Five, in fact - two Andrew Walter interceptions courtesy of Jarrad Page and three recovered fumbles. Oakland gained more yards than the Chiefs (307 – 292) but couldn't overcome all the turnovers.

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The defense flat out got after it tonight. That was the most aggressive, cohesive defensive unit the Chiefs have fielded this season. The Chiefs got solid performances across the board. Even when the Raiders broke a big play, KC's defenders stayed with it, hung in there and came back. The defense has been an improved unit this season, but with some tweaks in the off seasn this will be a top ten unit next year.

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Despite this season's problems and disappointments, there are several reasons Chiefs fans should be optimistic about next year. It already looks like 2007 is going to be a good year for the Chiefs. Check it out:

The Draft

Mike Campbell, Warpaint Illustrated's NFL draft analyst, put it best. The Chiefs are looking at a pretty good draft position next year. Every time they lose a conference game, that's another draft tie breaker they win next year. Even if the Chiefs finish at 9-7, they're looking at a probable top 15 pick, and maybe a top 10 depending on how things fall.

After last year's draft, I'm ecstatic about the Chiefs' staff taking another crack at improving the team. The new regime knows talent. Last year's draft netted the team a difference maker at defensive end (Tamba Hali), a difference maker at safety (Jarrad Page), another exciting safety (Bernard Pollard) and probably the quarterback of the future (Brodie Croyle). The Chiefs also picked up strong prospects in wide receiver Jeff Webb and guard Tre Stallings.

I can't wait to see who the Chiefs draft next April.

Derrick Johnson

Johnson is simply the future of the Kansas City Chiefs. Every game, he appears to get better and better. I expect next year to be his breakout, head-into-the-next-stratosphere year. Watching him fly around, make plays and disrupt offenses, he's got the ability to be great.

Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard

This tandem is going to be patrolling KC's secondary for a long time, starting next year. I don't see how the coaching staff can keep these guys off the field with a year of experience under their belts. Page has the ball skills, Pollard can hit and they both have the speed of cornerbacks. These guys have range from the sideline to the opposite hash, and bring bad intentions to opposing receivers.

Kris Wilson

When Ronnie Cruz went down, the Chiefs needed a new fullback. They got Kris Wilson, a backfield triple threat who, despite being drafted as a tight end, has probably won the starting fullback job for next year, even if Cruz is healthy. Wilson has consistency issues catching the football in the flat, but that comes from looking upfield in an unnatural position.

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