1. The first real test for Kansas City
Somewhere right now, Peyton Manning is coating his ankles with super glue and wrapping them in that brown tape you use on boxes before taking them to the post office. Manning is hurting. He will play in the biggest game of the year to date, but he's ailing. Still, a limping Manning is far better than the quarterbacks Kansas City has played this season. It's not even close.
This is the biggest test for Kansas City because we get to see that formidable defense against someone great. Instead of what we've seen, which is the Chiefs against mostly the dregs of the NFL at the position.
This is the list of the quarterbacks the Chiefs have played this season:
|Week||Opposing quarterback||Season rating||Rating vs. K.C.|
|1||Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars||36.0||30.8|
|2||Tony Romo, Cowboys||98.3||99.1|
|3||Michael Vick, Eagles||86.5||49.4|
|4||Eli Manning, Giants||68.5||64.8|
|5||Ryan Fitzpatrick, Titans||76.0||57.7|
|6||Terrelle Pryor, Raiders||69.0||45.7|
|7||Case Keenum, Texans||105.1||110.6|
|8||Jason Campbell, Browns||106.6||105.4|
|9||Jeff Tuel, Bills||45.1||52.2|
|11||Peyton Manning, Broncos||121.0||???|
What, no Jeff George?
Now, Romo is solid and has played well this season—and not coincidentally, that is a game the Chiefs almost lost. They won, 17-16. Vick was, and is, broken down. Eli is terrific, but at the time, the Giants were absolutely awful.
Blaine Gabbert? Jeff Tuel? Yuck.
That Kansas City defense is awesome. We just don't know how awesome because it's hard to gauge their awesomeness when they're playing non-awesomeness like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jason Campbell.
Now comes Peyton. A banged-up Peyton, but a still-formidable Peyton who even with two bad wheels is better than all of the throwers the Chiefs have faced thus far.
We get to see just how good Kansas City really is.
2. Dwayne Bowe discipline
The alleged incident with Dwayne Bowe, if true, was one of the truly dumb moves you will see a player make. Coming off a bye week. Things rolling on the year. Huge game against the Broncos. And you get busted allegedly for speeding and pot possession? Dumb.
This is one of the first truly bad pieces of news for the Chiefs this year. How will they handle it? Probably extremely well. Andy Reid is excellent with crisis management because he basically says nothing to the media and uses anything negative as motivation.
This will be Reid this week: No one expects us to win. They make fun of the quarterbacks we play. They're talking about us negatively. Go prove them wrong.
Is there a chance Bowe doesn't play because of the incident? None. The Chiefs and the NFL seem willing to let the case play out in court first. The collective bargaining agreement actually prevents the Chiefs from taking action because the arrest falls under the drug treatment program. Even if the NFL decided to act immediately and suspend Bowe for a game, Bowe would appeal, and the appeal would take time.
So Bowe will likely play even though he might have done something really, really stupid.
3. So, is this still just Gronk being Gronk?
At what point does Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski stop getting a pass for being a man-child buffoon? When do the Patriots finally rein him in? When do they put a stop to some of the asinine behavior? Or will Gronk always be just Gronk?
Oh, I know, I'm the ass---- in the room. I'm the bad guy. Just let Gronk be. He's just having fun out there. He's a big kid. Shut up, Freeman, let him have a little fun using racial stereotypes. Just let Gronk be Gronk.
Sure. OK. Got it.
4. The release of Ed Reed
I thought Ed Reed was a good signing for Houston. Boy, was that wrong. He looked old and slow—which is exactly what the Ravens thought when they released him.
Three things here. First, this again shows that general manager Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has known and always will know what the hell he's doing. He let Reed go and is in the middle of rebuilding the franchise, and that reboot has gone well. A young, untested Baltimore team still has hope in the AFC playoff race.
Second, it is amazing how quickly Reed aged. Safeties age like running backs, and Reed aged as fast as any player I've ever seen.
Third, his career is likely over. He's 35 and is a shell of himself. He will walk into the Hall of Fame as one of the best safeties ever, a guy who performed well at a time in the NFL when defensive backs were at a tremendous disadvantage because of the rule changes favoring the passing game.
5. The Dolphins fiasco
People who know Miami owner Stephen Ross will say he is a good dude. Sincere, honest, big-hearted, progressive. Cares about fans. They also say he is vastly overmatched as an owner.
Some of this is apparent in how Ross has handled the aftermath of the bullying crisis. He seems shocked at the language used in an NFL locker room, yet anyone who has been around an NFL team for longer than 15 minutes knows ugly language is used in a locker room.
He appointed a committee to give him recommendations. The names on it, like Tony Dungy, are respectable. Yet true leaders don't appoint committees. All due respect to Don Shula, who is on the committee and is someone I admire; I just don't see how he can contribute.
Great owners study the problem and make a decision. It's clear the problem is a lack of leadership in the locker room, both on the coaching staff and among the players.
The lack of leadership with the players is because of the crappy job Jeff Ireland has done as the team's general manager. The lack of leadership among the players is because of crappy human beings like Richie Incognito.
So you fire Ireland and you get rid of Incognito.
And I didn't need a committee to figure that out.
6. Calvin Johnson's historic dominance
Last week, Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson—part human, part Kryptonian, part android—played in his 100th game. He has 8,740 career receiving yards in his first 100, putting him behind only Lance Alworth (9,019) and ahead of Randy Moss, Torry Holt and Jerry Rice.
7. Russell Wilson's quiet greatness
Everyone knows how good Seattle's Russell Wilson is, but he is at times still lost among talk of the great young throwers. He shouldn't be. He has also done something that might be one of the better indicators of whether the Seahawks will eventually play in a Super Bowl.
Consider this statistic. Last week, Wilson earned his 20th victory. Wilson is just the fifth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win at least 20 games in his first two NFL seasons. The others were Matt Ryan (20), Joe Flacco (20), Dan Marino (21) and Ben Roethlisberger (22).
Of all those players, only Ryan hasn't been to a Super Bowl.
8. Gary Kubiak back?
Houston coach Gary Kubiak has been cleared by doctors to return, but it remains remarkable how just a short time after collapsing due to a mini-stroke, he returns. I've written about the extremes of coaching and how it's almost an addiction for them. They hate being away from the game, mostly out of love, but also because they fear other coaches on opposing teams are outworking them.
9. Arian Foster's back
A good medical look from mddirect.org at how nasty a bad back problem can be for a running back. I'm not so sure Foster will ever be the same. My experience in covering runners with back issues is that those back issues never leave.
10. Sam Hurd accusations
Former NFL player Sam Hurd faces federal drug charges. He's allegedly the NFL's version of Walter White. So his credibility is, well, in question.
But if what Hurd told MMQB is true, then the NFL's testing program for marijuana needs to be fine-tuned. And by fine-tuned, I mean totally revamped. If what he says is right, half of the NFL's players use marijuana and know how to easily beat the tests. They can do this because they know when the tests are coming and they stop using; and then when the test is over, they start using again.
The NFL had no comment, but what Hurd says is potentially feasible. If a player is in the drug program, he is tested multiple times, randomly, per month. That program is hard to beat.
But for players not in the program, they are tested once a year. They don't know exactly when the tests happen, but they do know they generally happen before the start of the season. One player told me that he is generally tested in August for marijuana. So if a player knows the marijuana tests are coming generally before camp, they theoretically could stop smoking in July, get tested in August and then pick up smoking again in September.
As for percentages of players smoking pot, I have heard estimates of about 50 percent from players in the past, but now, players I trust say it's about 25 to 30 percent.
One thing where Hurd is spot on: why players use the drug. There are certainly those who use just because they like it.
Players tell me, though, that the biggest reason is to ease the physical and mental pain. I've been told players use pot just to make the practice field.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. His Ten-Point Stance column appears on Wednesdays. All stats and historical info via the NFL, unless noted.
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