The first half of the game belonged to the Kansas City Chiefs. They scored on a touchdown by Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt, who ran the ball in from the one-yard line. They scored another TD when tight end Travis Kelce caught a 14-yard pass from quarterback Alex Smith. Not a good start for the Tennessee Titans.
Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota was leading a good drive during the second quarter until he threw an interception to cornerback Marcus Peters; Titans head coach Mike Mularkey later stated that it was Titan wide receiver Corey Davis’ fault as Davis didn’t run his route correctly. The Titans have had this “miscommunication” and “execution” problem throughout this season. It has frustrated the coaches and the fans and has lead to much speculation about the security of the coaching positions in Tennessee.
Throughout the past two weeks, there has been a lot of rumblings in the press and on social media about head coach Mike Mularkey’s job security. The Tennessee Titans lost three games in a row. Most of the wins this year have been determined to be “ugly wins” and most of the games have been low scoring or “boring”.
When the press asked Mularkey if he felt that he was close to losing his job if he didn’t make the playoffs, he responded: “I haven’t had support to say I was (secure). I just assumed the worst”. The press conference video of this exchange was heartbreaking, Mularkey was quite emotional when questioned about his job security. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk has addressed the situation with this statement:
Today’s playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs will be Mike Mularkey’s first playoff game as head coach. This AFC wildcard game will be played at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs (10-6) have three main weapons in the form of tight end Travis Kelce, running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs also will have home field advantage and a veteran quarterback in Alex Smith, who will be well rested coming into this game. The Chiefs had rookie quarterback PatrickMahomes II in as their starter last week.
Coach Mularkey had this to say about playing at Arrowhead: “Tough place to play. Good football team. We played them there last year in another close game, so we’re not as familiar playing them this year.”
The Chiefs have secured their playoff spot and a win or loss changes nothing in their seeding. They can sit or start whomever they want for however long they want. On Sunday, their only known starter will be rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes. This could make it tough to game plan for Denver IF they really want to win.
For Denver, they could be playing to lose because general manager John Elway is scouting quarterbacks and the best way to get a top one is to lose. However, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas needs 108 yards to reach 1,000 for the season and running back CJ Anderson needs 54 yards to reach his 1,000. He’s averaging 63 a game so that one should be easy. 108 yards for Thomas will be tougher, as he’s only had one game all season over 100 yards which was against the Giants.
With two QBs only having three starts between them, it’s tough to scout this game. However, since head coach Andy Reid drafted Mahomes and wants him as his future (ironically, he wanted quarterback Paxton Lynch, but Elway moved up to take him away), he’ll put a game plan together to give him every chance to succeed and win.
With that said, It sounds like Denver will be starting their top defensive guys. This should help get the ball back to Denver quickly since Mahones hasn’t faced a defense like the Broncos. Getting the ball in Lynch’s hands will be instrumental in Thomas getting his yards. Plus Elway needs to see Lynch throw more than the ten times he did against Oakland a few weeks ago.
Head Coach Vance Joseph has said he wants Lynch to run. If he bases a game plan around Lynch running and not his arm, the Broncos may be doomed to lose at home because of his injured ankle. WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer, receivers #2 and #3 look to be out, leaving Thomas, Jordan Taylor and Bennie Fowler as the three. Taylor and Fowler will need to be at the top of their game in order to pull coverage away from Thomas so he can get his yardage if they let Lynch throw.
Kansas City has an offense built around the run, so if Denver shows up to win, they should be able to stop it and force Mahones to throw. He’ll want to toss it deep as the gunslinger he is and since defensive back Aqib Talib may not be back next season, he could make sure Mahomes remembers his name.
The key to both sides is the same. Stop these strong-armed quarterbacks from throwing deep and to their top receiver. The difference will be that Mahones has nothing to lose. If he misses, throws interceptions and incompletions, his job is secure, so he should be able to play with no pressure. The press, fans, and Reid are behind him and will excuse a new starter’s mistakes.
For Lynch, the opposite is true. Denver press has portrayed him as the enemy because they championed for QB Trevor Siemian, any mistake he makes will be ripped to shreds by the media and fans who follow them. In addition, head coach Vance Joesph is clearly not a fan.
This will put massive pressure on him to perform. If he does well, they’ll say it was against second stringers, if he stumbles, they’ll say how crappy because it’s against second stringers. His key will be to shut out the outside world and just play. A tough challenge when he could be playing for a job.
Hopefully, Joseph puts Thomas, Anderson, and winning over a handful of spots in the draft. Fans deserve it and after this crappy season, and it would be a good reward for the players. Go Broncos!
Along with the turkeys, Christmas lights, and the shopping frenzy of late November/early December comes another seasonal hallmark: the posting of the NFL playoff rankings during the televised broadcasts.
You have your three columns: Division Leaders, Wild Card, and, the ever-hopeful, “In the Hunt.” Over the last 17 years, the Bills have become such regular members of the “In the Hunt” club, the players should be issued camo and a tree stand along with their helmets and pads.
The 2017 NFL season has been full of surprises. Teams that we all expected to be garbage have pulled off some astounding wins, while teams that we expected to roll over most of their opponents have faltered in losses to much weaker opponents. Pick’em pools have been torn to shreds, and some survivor leagues have already crowned their winner.
Each week, I’ll post my picks and my reasoning behind them, and on Tuesdays, I’ll do a quick rundown on where I went wrong, and what I got right. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my predictions, so feel free to drop a comment on the post, or @ me on Twitter.
“OK, that’s good, now look down at your feet and remember the place where you are at. You’ll need to hit that spot when we come out for pregame,” bellowed the coordinator. How could I forget? I looked down at my feet—32-yard marker on the field of Arrowhead. I looked up into the empty stadium, 3 hours before the Monday Night Football game between Kansas City and Washington. I scanned the faces of my new and old Arrowheads Abroad friends, all scattered about the edges of the United States-shaped flag. We were all grinning, not believing where we were and what we were going to be doing on national TV. This was the beginning of the end of a perfect long weekend that seemed too good to be true, even by Hollywood standards.
It all started on Friday, when they each landed in Kansas City, after at least half a day or more of travel from the UK. The unusually warm weather was as if they had ordered it so they could get the most out of every second they were here.
Right off, many of them began their BBQ odyssey, starting at Char Bar in Westport, which has a great outside patio. Saturday, they toured the National WW1 museum and Liberty Memorial. Several of them also made their way to see the lovely architecture of Union Station, and ambled around a bit in town. Continue reading “Chief Fans Get A New Perspective from UK”→
Two weeks into the 2017 season and the Kansas City Chiefs have won two very different games. One an offensive juggernaut against the current Super Bowl Champions; the other, a nail-biting defensive battle that was up for grabs until the last seconds of the game.
The Chiefs are presenting themselves as a cohesive, focused team whose sum is greater than the total of its players. At times playing to their potential; other times having to fight back by calling upon every bit of reserved spirit left in them. Players drop the ball (literally and figuratively) and their teammates make up the shortcoming.
My mind goes to two players, especially in these first two games—tight end Travis Kelce and quarterback Alex Smith—each having very different moments. Kelce continues to amaze and confound. Providing a third major offensive option to running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, his presence, and skill are a large part of Kansas City’s success since he joined the team.
However, on the other side of the coin are the immature antics that are racking up unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. While none of them can yet be linked directly to a loss, they have created unnecessary hurdles for his teammates and coaches to overcome.
“It’s happening again—another national game and another national embarrassment,” I thought as the New England Patriots marched down the field and easily scored the first touchdown of the game.
And then RB Kareem Hunt, very talked up in the Kansas City press, fumbled his first NFL carry–the epitome of a facepalm moment.I grimaced as the quarter continued and the Patriots seemed to be on offense again instantly, marching down the field for their second touchdown.When replay showed the catch wasn’t in control and the six points nullified, it gave me a little peace.
Then, the Kansas City Chiefs defense made a spectacular stop on a fourth-and-one play.“Well, at least the defense is looking respectful,” I admitted.Then the Chiefs went 90 yards and scored, tying the game, and holding the Patriots to a field goal on their next score but allowing another touchdown 15 minutes later.Right before the half, KC scored another touchdown.Now the butterflies in my stomach were going to town.
There are a few teams in the NFL that haven’t had it easy nor made it easy on themselves, never meeting their potential and not pulling through in the critical moments like key games and playoffs.The Chiefs are one of those teams.Having not won a Super Bowl in almost 50 years and very rarely making it through to the higher eschelons of the playoffs, they have deservedly earned the adjective “Chiefsiest”—as in last year’s Pittsburgh game was the Chiefsiest thing ever—developing and playing to your potential during the season and then putting on a disappointing performance when least affordable.
But, something happened at Foxborough.The Chiefs started believing in themselves, and kept themselves in the game.Keeping the score within a winning gap through the first half.And Hunt kept getting the ball and atoning; Alex Smith had something to prove, and boy did they both shine.Continue reading “Welcome to the 2017 NFL Season”→