Can the Chiefs hit 9-0? Yes, they can!
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The last word on Chiefs-Raiders goes to Sunday’s star inactive, cornerback Brandon Flowers, who got to observe the audial carnage at Arrowhead Stadium from the sideline:
“The thing is, we’ve been hearing from our fans … (we) just haven’t been given enough time before. We haven’t been winning in the past. Now we’ve been rolling, all the excitement has been building. I’m not surprised. I’m glad we beat the (Guinness World Record for loudest outdoor sports stadium). But these fans — we hear it so much, (it’s hard) not to be spoiled about it. But man, big shout-out to fans, because they definitely impact the game.”
And, with that …
CHIEFS 24, RAIDERS 7: THREE (SLIGHTLY LESS) UNCOMFORTABLY PRESSING MONDAY QUESTIONS
:03 … What the expletive happened to Alex Smith?
First, the good news: In his last 26 NFL starts, the Chiefs’ quarterback is a sparkling 25-5-1. The dude wins. Even when it isn’t pretty, he wins. But let’s be clear: Sunday was NOT pretty. At all. Smith missed on 12 of his first 19 throws against Oakland, sometimes badly. It was slightly better in the second half, but only slightly (7-for-12 passing, 45 yards). Smith was efficient (no picks, 29 rushing yards), which was helpful. The Chiefs were 4-for-14 on third down, though, which was not.
On the plus side, Dwayne Bowe said after the game that the continual slow first halves offensively are just a matter of self-correction, not panic. “It’s just hurting ourselves,” the wideout said. “We just, at the end of the day, we’ve got to start out fast. And that’s by any means, if it’s finishing routes, finishing runs or finishing blocks. So, once we get to the drawing board, we’ll start out … faster next week.”
:02 … Fourth and stinking 48! The Chiefs are on a pace for 83 sacks and the NFL record is 72, set by the Buddy Ryan Bears of ’84. Can they get there?
Possibly. Of the Chiefs’ next five opponents, two have very susceptible pockets (Cleveland went into last weekend ranked 28th in the NFL in terms of adjusted sack rate, according to FootballOutsiders.com; Buffalo was 21st), while three rank among the NFL’s most secure walls (Denver was first in sack rate as of Week 5; San Diego was second; Houston was sixth). So it stands to reason that the sack party might slow up a bit, even if it’s unlikely that things dry up over any long stretch.
“That’s kind of a scary team (and) we haven’t played our best yet,” Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles said. “And we haven’t shown the world what we can do. But when we start clicking, I mean, it’s going to be scary.”
:01 … Is there any logical, conceivable reason why this bunch won’t be 9-0 going into the bye week?
Nope. Well, OK, I mean, come on, this is the NFL — anything’s possible. Not likely, mind you, but possible. Little green men from Mars could land and decide to take Jamaal Charles with them. Alex Smith could be attacked by a yeti. Justin Houston could wind up in a hot tub that accidentally sends him back to 1986. Look, you said logical, right?
The Texans, Sunday’s dance partner, are threatening to go down the storm drain in a hurry. Rapidly fading quarterback/pick-6 machine Matt Schaub was injured in a 38-13 loss to the Rams, and the Matt Cassel cycle began anew — fans cheered his removal from the game, and a teammate (in this case, linebacker Brian Cushing), responded by lashing out at the fans. Any team with J.J. Watt is dangerous up front, especially with left tackle Branden Albert banged up and Eric Fisher continuing to show week after week of growing pains.
But combine the way the Chiefs defense is playing right now with the way the Houston offense is playing right now and you’ve got the perfect recipe for — well, pretty much what you just saw: A kinda ugly, defense-first war of attrition that Kansas City’s big red Sharknado eventually blows open at some point late in the second half. If the Browns scare you, we can’t help you, and yes, the Chiefs have historically struggled in Buffalo, but the Bills have quarterbacking problems at the moment that put Houston’s to shame. The longer this party goes, the more all signs point to the same, awesome, gigantic thing: Nov. 17 in Denver. Round 1.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.