Unfortunately, the NFL got black eye as a result of the melee between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns. Football is a tough sport but attacking the top of someone’s head with their own helmet may be a little over the top. If this happened on a street somewhere it would be considered a felony.
Expectations can be a good or a bad thing as the Kansas City Chiefs come off their bye week. Chiefs fans came into 2019 with aspirations of going to the Super Bowl after making it all the way to the AFC Championship game last year. The overtime thriller that we could have won in regulation, if not for a defensive penalty on an interception, could have made all the difference in the world in attitude among Chiefs fans.
Up until then, most everyone felt the Kansas City was the AFC team to beat. The NFL teams all had a whole year to prepare for the high-octane offense lead by Patrick Mahomes. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and his overhauled system was thought to be a feather in the cap.
As in life, football can throw a curveball. The major problem thus far in the season as the Chiefs face off with the Raiders is injuries. Those injuries have affected both sides of the ball. The offense has fallen short of its performance last year. They have not yet put together four quarters in any game. The injuries have created a void in fluency and consistency.
Injuries in the defensive line have created a consistent struggle with the running game. The secondary has improved in this year, but it seems like every team in the league is looking for Daniel Sorensen in third down passing situations. The linebacking crew still lacks the physical nature necessary to stop the running game.
A decline in special teams performance has been the biggest surprise. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub is the best in the business, but the amount of penalties and mental mistakes has killed the kicking game and was responsible for the loss to Tennessee.
It is a possibility the Chiefs are not as good as we had hoped for. As they go into the game with the Raiders, the truth will surface. The team may very well not make the playoffs, but is also possible for the team to peak, play at the level they are capable of and go to the Super Bowl.
The NFL is full of teams that are very similar, and any team could sneak in and win the ring. All four Chief losses have been close games that the team had an opportunity to win. Andy Reid is correct – there is a very fine line between winning and losing in the NFL this year.
To win a championship in any sport you have to accomplish two things – get hot at the right time and be a little lucky. The Chiefs will need to win at least three and maybe four of the last five games in order to make the playoffs. They are capable of accomplishing that.
If they start running on all cylinders, they could easily be the team that no one would want to play in the playoffs. It is important not to peak too early.
The Baltimore Ravens are currently the favorite team in the AFC, but the Patriots will always be a team to be measured by. They have played a soft schedule and the offense is showing Tom Brady’s age. The defense is nails but the Chiefs, when healthy, have the firepower to hurt them.
In the NFC, the Chiefs have played the Packers and Vikings tough without being at full physical strength.
Bottom line – the 2019 season is all in front of the Chiefs. All they have to do is stay healthy and start playing four quarters of solid football. We are all still hopeful that Kansas City is the team we believed them to be going into the season.
• The quote of the week comes from novelist and poet Robert Louis Stevenson: “You cannot run away from weakness. You must sometimes fight it out or perish; and if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.