When: Sunday, November 21, 2010, 3:05 pm kickoff (CT).
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Broadcast: TV – FOX: Announcers Ron Pitts and John Lynch; DirecTV channel 712
Radio: SIRIUS: 91 (ARZ), 130 (KCC). XM: 108 (KCC). Chiefs radio network
The good vibes that the Kansas City Chiefs built up with their unexpected 3-0 start to the season was officially killed off with a gut-wrenching overtime loss to the Oakland Raiders; and then a gut-WRETCHING butt-kicking from the Denver Broncos last week.
Now the Chiefs are tied with the Raiders for first place in the AFC West with a 5-4 record, but since the Raiders have the tie-breaker over KC with the win two weeks ago, technically you could say the Chiefs are in second-place.
On Sunday, the Chiefs are back home in Arrowhead for only the third time in the last eight weeks and a struggling Arizona Cardinals team is coming in. If there is a must-win game for the team this season, this one is it.
The Cards are 31st in the league in offense and 30th on defense and literally don’t do anything well. They have the greatest wide receiver in the game in Larry Fitzgerald, but they don’t have a quarterback even remotely talented enough to get the ball to him.
And, if the reaction that I got appearing on a Phoenix-area radio station to discuss the game is any indication, the fans are convinced that Fitzgerald will be leaving the desert when his contract expires after next season. Of course, considering that I’m from Kansas City and the Chiefs head coach Todd Haley is the man Fitzgerald credits with making him the best receiver in the league, the fans and radio hosts are convinced he’s coming to KC.
Like any good Chiefs fan, the thought of Larry Fitzgerald wearing Chiefs Red in 2012 almost made me weep on-air.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves despite that wonderful mental image.
Here are my three things that you should be watching for the Chiefs to do on Sunday if they are going to win:
1. Get back to playing with a chip on their shoulder. Until the last three weeks, the Chiefs played like a team that was disrespected by everyone except the players in their own locker room. They played smart. They played hard. They played to win. Then they took on the winless Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead and played uptight and completely opposite of what they had done before. If not for a fortuitous Todd Haley timeout when Bills kicker Rian Lindell nailed a field goal in regulation, the Chiefs would have lost that game. In the Raiders game, they played a stupid, mistake-filled game and lost in overtime. The Broncos game we can chalk up to being “one of those games in Denver” if, and only if, the Chiefs get back to basics Sunday against the Cardinals.
2. Get Dexter McCluster back on the field. I wrote the same thing last week against Denver, but it is too obvious that the offense is missing their other “game-breaker” whether he lines up as a receiver, runner, or kick returner. Javier Arenas is doing a fine job returning kicks, but even he isn’t as good as McCluster. McCluster has been limited in practice for two weeks, but he is practicing. It’s time the ultra-talented rookie gets back on the field – ankle sprain or no ankle sprain.
3. The defense needs to forget last week. I appear on radio shows all the time to discuss the NFL in general and the Chiefs in particular. With the exception of the end of the Raiders game, the fourth quarter of the Texans game, and every minute of the Bronco game, the Chiefs defense has played well this season. When you consider that they were 31st in defense just last year with basically the same talent, their move up into the Top-10 NFL defenses is a credit to defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Last week, against a good passing team with a hot quarterback and talented wide receivers on the road, they self-destructed.
This defense has played magnificently at Arrowhead all year long. The Cardinals have been atrocious on the road. Derrick Johnson needs to get his hands on the ball when Arizona QB Derek Anderson throws it away while being chased by Tamba Hali. The Cardinals have the worst turnover margin in the league at -8 and can be taken out of games early. The Chiefs defense needs to set a tone from the first snap and hopefully, it won’t be like the tone they set last week.
My Prediction: Unlike last week, when I talked myself OUT of predicting a Chiefs loss in Denver (but I was thinking a 21-17 loss, not 49-29), I believe the Chiefs get back to doing what they do best – creating turnovers, not having any of their own, and running the ball for obscene amounts of yardage. This one’s not close at the end – Chiefs 31, Cards 16.
Like this article? Hit the SUBSCRIBE button above and get all your Chiefs info and commentary delivered with an Examiner twist straight into your in-box. It’s free and you may cancel at any time.
Needing a freelance journalist or copywriter? Get one of the best in the business at Dan Rose Copywriting. Why yes … that is me!
If you’re into fantasy football, check out my other job as the Editor-in-Chief (I love that “Chief” part!) of Fantasy Insights, one of the most honored fantasy football sites of the last 16 years. Winner of the “Butkus Award” twice, and runner-up three more times, the “Butkus” is the top honor a fantasy web site can win because it’s chosen by the fans! Yeah … we’re pretty proud too!
And, if you want to put a “voice” to the writing, listen to me on the Fantasy Insights Radio Show every Thursday from 4-5 pm Central time on the VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network. If you can’t catch me live on the Web, then download our show on iTunes (Fantasy Insights) or listen through the web site. We do talk about more than just fantasy football, but the Web Police still haven’t caught onto us yet!