Monday, September 26, 2016

Turnovers Torture Jets Fans, Chiefs Fans Witness Wild Week 3 Win

Well, I did not expect that. I won't feel too bad about predicting a close game and even a loss for our Kansas City Chiefs yesterday, but sometimes I really love being wrong. Travis Kelce and the rest of the tight end corps made me look sorta smart with 10 combined catches for 113 yards, then KC's defense made me look real dumb by forcing roughly a bajillion turnovers and never giving the New York Jets a chance.

Yesterday's Chiefs victory surely incited plenty of happy shouting and high-fives for all, but it does bring up an intriguing and disturbing question: can you bank on a team that's built around creating turnovers? I don't know the answer to that question, and I assume the answer's you'll get are rather philosophical, but forcing turnovers thankfully is not the Chiefs' only way to win. The offense displayed its explosive comeback potency with that Week 1 comeback win over Sandy Eggo, and the defense reacts positively to high-pressure moments nearly every week. But yeah, if you force 9 turnovers every game, you probably don't need the world's best offense or defense.

In case you missed the ridiculous totals, KC's defense was responsible for 8 total turnovers, 3 interceptions in the end zone, 4 consecutive drives that ended with KC picks and countless frowns on the faces of Jets fans.

The two successful, highly-regarded QBs facing off in yesterday's Week 3 battle probably experienced two very different ranges of emotion as they went to bad last night. Alex Smith only missed on eight of his 33 pass attempts, and his grand total of zero interceptions is precisely six less than the total thrown by the opposing QB. Ryan Fitzpatrick entered yesterday's game as the reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week. He then exited Kansas City with a Week 3 loss, six more picks on his stat sheet and a fresh reminder that Arrowhead Stadium is the toughest NFL road game environment in the entire universe.

Smith can sleep soundly after guiding his team to victory, largely by utilizing the tremendous advantage afforded to him by the Chiefs’ defense. Fitzpatrick can only dream of the next time he gets to throw a pass that doesn't land in the hands of someone wearing a red jersey.

KC's effectiveness in creating turnovers yesterday puts the rest of the league on alert. You better believe this game affects the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 4 game plan in a major way. If KC can still stifle the Steelers by forcing even more turnovers next week, we could witness one of the best Sunday Night Football games in recent history. If not, I think the Chiefs will probably lose, but I clearly know nothing.


Doug’s all the way up to….shit, still just 16 Twitter followers @DLaC67, and he occasionally uses his Facebook page to pimp these articles.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Chiefs vs. Jets: Week 3 Preview and Predictions

Injuries play a big role in each NFL matchup, but this week’s report could tell us who wins this Week 3 meeting at Arrowhead between our 1-1 Kansas City Chiefs and the 1-1 New York Jets.

Veteran Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall is listed as questionable as of Sunday morning, but the same goes for KC’s #3 cornerback Phillip Gaines. Three pieces of the Chiefs offensive – all guards – are also listed. Jah Reid and Parker Ehinger will not play, and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is listed as questionable. Two injuries to Jets inside linebackers could give Travis Kelce and KC’s offense extra opportunities for big plays, but overall, this week’s injury report exposes KC far more than New York.

More injuries to the Chief’s offensive line makes things even harder for a team who failed to score a touchdown last week. New York’s defense shouldn’t pose the same threat to KC that Houston’s did, but the Texans and Jets offenses attack in a similarly balanced manner. Marshall’s aforementioned knee injury could hamper the potency of New York’s trio of Eric Decker, Marshall and emerging weapon Quincy Enunwa, but through their first two games, KC’s secondary looked weak against offenses with even two high-quality targets. Decker and Marshall both have at least 8 catches and over 130 passing yards this year, yet Enunwa leads the team with 13 catches and ranks second in reception yards.

New York balances this passing game with a heavy dose of veteran back Matt Forte, who shows no signs of decline in his ninth NFL season. Only three players in the league have more 2016 rushing yards than Forte, and of them already played his third game of the season. New York’s combination of a strong running game and a dynamic passing attack has earned the NFL’s 4th-highest yards-per-game average.

The Chiefs have only played one quarter of winning football this season, so it’s tough to predict victory against another worthy, tested opponent. New York looks frighteningly capable of executing a gameplan that tears up KC’s secondary, while the Chiefs offense encouraged precisely zero Chiefs fans last week. I predict that KC will limit their mental mistakes after last week’s struggles, which should keep this game close and fun. Sadly, I once again will guess that our Chiefs lose a close one to a good team. Official prediction: the Jets win a thriller 23-20, and I become much too sad to properly enjoy the night game.


Don’t be like me, Chiefs fans. Enjoy your day, even if our Chiefs lose, and even if they’ll probably lose again next week in Pittsburgh. Anyways, have fun!

Doug LaCerte has 16 Twitter followers @DLaC67 and a Facebook page. He often forgets about both until he does this, but he's working on that.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Week 2 Preview and Predictions: Houston Texans

I’m scared about our Kansas City Chiefs facing off with the Houston Texans in this Week 2 road game. I recently talked about how KC matches up against the intimidating defensive playmakers for Houston, but the offensive line won’t be 100% today. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Parker Ehinger, KC’s starting guards in Week 1, haven’t practiced in the latter half of the week and will not see the field in Houston. With or without all their pieces, the Chiefs would still be facing a tough test today.

The injury concerns aren’t the only reasons to worry. It took KC 21 fourth-quarter points, numerous punting gaffes from the San Diego Chargers and all of Spencer Ware’s 199 total yards just to send that game to overtime. KC pulled off the largest comeback in franchise history to win against an objectively sub-par team last week.

Houston was a legitimate playoff team last year – at least before being plagued with injuries – and most analysts can agree they’ve gotten better. The addition of new QB Brock Osweiler, fantasy football favorite Lamar Miller and dangerous first-round pick wide out Will Fuller makes the Texans’ offense dynamic. The Texans defense clearly has a better chance at limiting KC’s offense than the Chargers did, so Osweiler’s ability to run Houston’s new, multifaceted offense could decide the winner of today’s game.

The fact that Vegas only gives the Chiefs between 1 and 1.5 points actually makes me more impressed with KC’s Week 1 performance. This improved Texans team looks frighteningly talented, and our Chiefs looked woefully ineffective in three of the last four quarters they played. I think KC needs a turnover to keep this one close, but they’re due for at least one, so I am predicting a close game. We’re lookin’ at you, Marcus Peters.


I regret to say that I predict a 27-24 win for the Texans today. Expect KC to keep things interesting with that aforementioned turnover, and expect the Chiefs to target the middle of the field often with veteran middle linebacker Brian Cushing injured this week. I sincerely hope Travis Kelce proves my initial prediction wrong and scores you fantasy footballers a bajillion points today.

Feel free to publicly shame me when all my predictions go wrong @DLaC67, or head directly to my Facebook page.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fisher and Company Face Tough Task in Houston

Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher, the often-maligned first overall pick in the 2013 draft, just gave us the best regular season performance in his budding career, but the Houston Texans defense humbles some of the planet’s strongest individuals on a weekly basis. Fisher’s confidence has perhaps never been higher, which is great, because he’ll need it this Sunday.

Pro Football Focus proclaimed that Fisher and his 82.0 grade was the NFL’s best at his position in Week 1. Kansas City right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif received a grade of 79.4, and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (who will perhaps see more J.J. Watt than any Chief this time around) received a 75.7. This should obviously bode well for KC’s offense as a whole, but the reigning Deacon Jones Award recipient isn’t the only guy to fear on Houston’s defense.

Whitney Mercilus earned the season’s first AFC Defensive Player of the Week award by terrorizing Jay Cutler and the rest of the Chicago Bears offense. Mercilus finished Week 1 with four hits on the opposing QB, including two sacks and a forced fumble. Nobody in the league has more sacks since Week 6 of last season than this guy. Mercilus’ two sacks and forced fumble occurred when he targeted the Bears’ left tackle – a position now held securely in KC by the aforementioned Eric Fisher.

Fisher succeeded on passing plays and run protection interchangeably last Sunday, and it seemed that he only lost his man when Alex Smith was forced out of the pocket. This Texans defense will surely throw more creative blitz packages at KC than the San Diego Chargers could, and the difference in talent found on the Chargers’ defense and Houston’s is immense. KC needs both their offensive tackles to limit the damage done by Mercilus and Watt in order to keep the offense moving in Houston.

Since pointing out how much I appreciate all 17 people following me on Twitter @DLaC67, I actually lost a follower. Thanks for nothing, whoever you were.




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dee Ford and Marcus Peters Must Step Up Now (Or, You Know, Sunday)

Wednesday seems like a good day to dim the optimism gleamed from last week’s impressive comeback win by your Kansas City Chiefs. We all got two full days of appreciating that never-before-seen style of win. Now it’s time to remember how dreadful KC looked before the last ten minutes of regulation. How did they dig themselves such a deep hole, and how much fear should that instill in Chiefs fans?

Before Keenan Allen tore his right ACL, he caught six passes for 63 yards. Allen’s injury came on the play following the first half’s two-minute warning, meaning he was on pace to catch more than 10 passes for well over 100 yards. Reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Marcus Peters consistently got burnt by Allen, and worries about replacing Sean Smith in the secondary seemed well-founded as KC fell to a 24-3 deficit with less than 25 minutes left on the clock.

KC’s defense did buckle down eventually, allowing just 6 points in the second half and forcing punts down the stretch when it mattered most. However, fear still looms large after needing such a brilliant comeback to beat an objectively lesser football team. The Chiefs need to consistently pressure the quarterback and provide tighter coverage in the secondary in order to win against teams better than the Chargers.

I honestly can’t tell you if it’s defensive coordinator Bob Sutton or the talent on the field who deserves the lion’s share of the blame for so many ineffective plays from defensive ends/outside linebackers, but that cannot happen when KC meets up with stronger teams. This is all at-a-glance analysis (still looking for a way to watch prior games without shelling out a Benjamin for NFL Game Pass), but I would wager that Dee Ford was a non-factor far more often than the average Chiefs fan would’ve predicted – and the average Chiefs fan was decidedly not in love with Ford’s production prior to this season.

Analysts claimed that the secondary was KC’s biggest potential weakness heading into Week 1, but I figured this had to do with whoever would go on to replace Sean Smith. It turns out that Marcus Peters earned his fair share of skeptics Sunday afternoon, too. Peters and Dee Ford aren’t alone when it comes to deserving blame for that disappointing start – a struggling defensive line also allowed 155 total rushing yards – but they are the guys KC most desperately needs right now.


Sam Mellinger’s list of super-talented wide receivers that KC will see this year is disturbingly long. Adam Schefter’s latest report on Justin Houston has him returning to the Chiefs in November. Week 9 will reportedly be the earliest game in which he may play. That means we need Ford to help apply pressure while Peters covers TY Hilton, Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall and DeAndre Hopkins. The Chiefs should be favorites in either two or three of those four games, but this season could all come down to how well this struggling duo fares before Houston’s return.

Feel free to loudly disagree with me on Twitter @DLaC67 or on my Facebook page.

Comeback Chaos for AFC West Competitors

Aaaaaand after a little two-year break, we're back! Here's a Week 1 recap for the entire AFC West, but check back soon for more Chiefs-based analysis:

If you live and die with an AFC West team that was expected to be competitive this year, this should feel like a rather lovely week. Football is back, and you just experienced an extremely entertaining comeback victory that earned your team part of a three-way tie for 1st place in the division. What a wonderful start to the season it was, unless you’re a Chargers fan.

The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers began the regular season in memorable fashion Thursday night as 25.4 million people watched from home. This one-point comeback win for the defending champs in the season-opening Super Bowl rematch only served as the first course of intense entertainment served up by the AFC West in Week 1.

The Oakland Raiders took their high hopes and highly regarded quarterback David Carr for a long plane ride southeast on Sunday to start their regular season against the New Orleans Saints. Oakland overcame a four-touchdown, 424-yard day from Drew Brees and a 14-point deficit to start their season 1-0. Carr went blow-for-blow with Brees until the very end, when a Raiders touchdown drive, a two-point conversion and a barely-missed 61-yard field goal attempt from New Orleans resulted in a 25-24 comeback victory for Oakland. Viewers of that game probably presumed nothing would top what they just watched, but as that Raiders game wrapped up, Oakland’s greatest rival was mounting another incredible comeback in Kansas City.

OddsShark.com gave the San Diego Chargers 6.5 points in this matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, but Philip Rivers and Company got off to an early 24-3 lead at Arrowhead. The Chiefs defense then buckled down and allowed just 6 points in the second half, and KC managed to score 17 points in the 4th quarter's last 10 minutes to send the game to overtime. Alex Smith then led the Chiefs on a 10-play, 75-yard drive culminating in a game-winning, two-yard touchdown run.

The previous comeback wins for their divisional rivals must alter the emotional flavor of this victory for the Chiefs, and vice versa. These hard-fought games ramp up the tension and excitement within the division that will only escalate as the season continues.

Next week, Kansas City travels to Houston where OddsShark.com says they’ll be two-point underdogs against the Houston Texans – the same organization they thrashed and shut out in the AFC Divisional round of last year’s playoffs. Denver will be heavily favored against the 0-1 Indianapolis Colts, and Oakland will reportedly give 4.5 to the 0-1 Atlanta Falcons in the Raiders’ home opener. The Chargers return to San Diego, where they’ll try for a fresh start against the 0-1 Jacksonville Jaguars. Teams from the AFC West won’t face off again until Week 5, when the Chargers travel to Oakland. The Chiefs then travel to Oakland in Week 6 for what could be one of the biggest games in this great rivalry’s recent history.

Doug LaCerte frequently neglects his Facebook page, and he profoundly appreciates each of the 17 people following him on Twitter @DLaC67.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

3 Things KC Must Do to Win in Denver


So we got this, right guys? Total trap-game, right? The Kansas City Chiefs bring a deflated team to Denver in the coming hours, and most would consider their chances to be sigh-inducingly slim. What can KC do to make this game competitive, or even pull off a stunner at Mile-High? Well, sadly, the gameplan for victory this Sunday involves some awfully lofty goals. If KC ends the day with a seemingly miraculous 1-1 record, a lot of things will have gone very, very right. Here are the three things that must happen for KC to win this afternoon:

 

3- Jamaal Charles gets 15 touches or more for 150 yards or more.

Andy Reid took some well-deserved flak for Jamaal having only 11 touches in Week 1, but he also deserves credit for being candid and honest about his failure in that regard. It should be clear that Reid will make #25 more of the offensive gameplan this time around, but a struggling offensive line must also succeed in giving their star player a seam on running downs. Despite this being the easiest goal on this list to accomplish, it’s far from a safe bet against an improved Denver defense that now includes Vince Wilfork stuffing up the center of the field.

 

2- Chiefs win the turnover ratio by at least +2.

Shaun Smith and Marcus Cooper are both polarizing starters in KC’s secondary that sometimes get burnt and sometimes make incredible, game-changing plays. As fans, we can only hope that we get the good side of that coin today. If first ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning helps us out with some errant passes, nobody in the Kingdom will complain, but the Chiefs clearly aren’t banking on that. To force turnovers, KC needs to go out and get them. This means pressuring Manning to get rid of the ball early and allowing the aforementioned guys in the secondary to go after that pick-six with reckless abandon. Maybe with a better team on paper KC would avoid such a rogue gameplan, but not this year, and especially not today.

 

1- Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dontari Poe combine for 3 or more sacks on Manning.

With the dreadful loss of both Mike Devito and Derrick Johnson, the Chiefs absolutely must see their other big-name defensive players step up if they want to be anything close to relevant this season. Multiple sacks, especially early in the game, can keep Peyton uncomfortable and lessen the chance of huge plays against that unproven secondary. KC’s chances to pull this off will begin and end at the line of scrimmage.

 

It’s an important sports day in KC, what with the Royals continuing their playoff race and the rival Detroit Tigers playing a day-game as well. Today could be remembered as a shining moment for both clubs, or the beginning of the end of their respective seasons.