One of the biggest comeback stories this season, the Kansas City Chiefs, have been turned into a serious contender by Todd Haley and company.
Just when it seemed like everything was going right, with the Chargers losing last week, dropping them back two games on the AFC front-runners in Kansas City, we got the news that quarterback Matt Cassel underwent an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday morning.
This could be the worst possible timing, as The Chiefs look to continue winning and make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Kansas City has been hot this season. It started with the running back tandem of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles, who together, average 175 rushing yards a game.
This opened up some room up top for Cassel to quietly become one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the NFL in his second season with the team.
Throwing for 2500 yards after 13 weeks is not overly impressive, but Cassel excels in other ways.
He has a league-low four interceptions for full time QBs and has already thrown 23 touchdowns. This is a far-cry from last year when he struggled with 16 TDs and 16 INTs.
What has been even more impressive is Cassel's ability to manage the game. He is realizing that he does not have to win the game all the time, he just needs to manage the offense.
With big play guys like Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster, he can sit easy in the pocket and watch the yardage come to him.
As of right now, Cassel's status is listed as "unknown" for this Sunday's game against the 6-6 Chargers. Haley and the Chiefs are still hopeful that he will be able to play only four days after surgery.
This would be a very bad idea. Some of us may remember Ben Roethlisburger having an appendectomy a week before the opening game in 2006.
He came back to play the second game of the season and had an awful showing, with a QB rating of 38.7 and throwing 2 INTs.
He didn't come back to real form until week 6 (ironically beating Kansas City 45-7). With a 2 game lead, Cassel needs to sit at least week 14 and possibly week 15 as well.
Without Matt Cassel at the helm, who will be taking snaps? The duty will fall to fifth-year man out of Alabama Brodie Croyle. Croyle was supposed to be the franchise savior, much like Cassel.
Croyle boasts a career completion percentage of 57.7 percent, throwing for 8 TDs and 8 INTs in 16 games (9 starts). Oh yeah, Croyle is also 0-9 as a starter.
We can see how well that worked out for former head coach Herm Edwards, who is now sitting in an ESPN anailyst chair instead of the sidelines. The "Herm" years were dark times for Kansas City fans, indeed.
In order for Kansas City to survive without Cassel, they are going to have to give the ball of the Charles and Jones even more than they do now. We will need to see some major passing lanes open up for Croyle before he will be willing to take those shots down field.
In addition, the Chiefs will need to step up there game on defense and special teams in order to compensate for their leader going down.
I know what you're thinking, "Come on, we don't know if Croyle will be all that bad... Maybe he will step his game up and come out swinging."
My answer is NO! We have seen all the potential that Croyle has. He is a second string QB and there is a reason for that. He will not be able to manage the game effectively enough to win games. He is going to need all the help he can get.
Let's just hope that Charlie Weiss and Haley have a few more tricks up their sleeves to get Kansas City through the games without Cassel.
All we can do is hope that Cassel has a speedy recovery and hold our breath until this nightmare is over.