Warpaint Illustrated: Cassel and Bowe leading the way

Warpaint Illustrated: Cassel and Bowe leading the way

Published Nov. 21, 2010 1:21 p.m. ET

By Nick Athan
November 21, 2010

In the aftermath of the Chiefs� 31-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, one can no longer dispute that Kansas City is blessed with a solid quarterback and go-to receiver.

Before the season started, there weren�t many Kansas City Chiefs fans that had anything positive to say about quarterback Matt Cassel and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.

Both were very popular topics on local sports talk radio, but for the wrong reasons. The sentiment was that neither were worthy of wearing a Chiefs� uniform. Cassel, after throwing sixteen touchdowns and sixteen interceptions a year ago, struggled for most of the preseason. And even during the Chiefs� 5-2 start, he just wasn�t cutting it.

In losses to the Raiders and Broncos, the Chiefs� offense lost their ability to run the ball. If they were going to score points, Cassel had to crank up his right arm and take matters into his own hands. And even though the offense was extremely unbalanced, he responded by throwing a combined six touchdowns in both games.

Cassel gained confidence in his abilities after finding success in Oakland and Denver. In the process, he also discovered a go-to receiver in Dwayne Bowe.

Until Sunday, Bowe hadn�t talked to the media since his offseason flap over comments he reportedly made about distractions offered to NFL players on the road at team hotels. Bowe denies saying anything of the sort. After the fiasco, he refused to talk to the media. As he told me in private after the Buffalo Bills overtime victory a few weeks ago, he was going to let his play on the field speak for him the rest of the season.

On Sunday, he broke his silence after some prodding by Chiefs officials. His answers were short--but that�s irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that Bowe now has caught touchdowns in six consecutive games and eleven in ten games. That�s something Otis Taylor couldn�t do, nor any other Chiefs� receiver in the rich history of this franchise.

Bowe�s assault on opposing defenses should garner him All-Pro consideration this season. And honestly, the same should be said of his quarterback.

Though Bowe�s path is easier, Cassel�s is virtually impossible. When you play in a conference that has Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Kyle Orton, and Matt Shaub, Cassel isn�t going to leap frog any of those quarterbacks for a trip to Hawaii � even if he gets the Chiefs to the playoffs.

However, neither Cassel nor Bowe should concern themselves about what happens in February. At hand now is making sure that both continue to make plays within the Chiefs offense so they can play meaningful games in January.

Bowe believes the Chiefs can win it all. That remains to be seen, but you have to love his confidence. And right now there might not be a better receiver in the NFL.

That aside, the Chiefs have the inside track on an AFC West title. They have six games left and five of them are winnable. With their victory Sunday, the Chiefs are back in first place after the Raiders were embarrassed at Pittsburgh 35-3.

When you consider the Chiefs are 5-0 at home this season, they have a golden opportunity to run the table at Arrowhead. If you said that before the season started, few would have believed it.

Again, it�s too early to talk about the Pro Bowl for either player. But it�s not too early to think about the Chiefs doing the impossible and winning the AFC West.

And what appeared to be unattainable after back-to-back losses at Oakland and Denver has suddenly changed in just four quarters of dominating football against the Arizona Cardinals.

Now the Chiefs once again control their postseason destiny. And the men leading that charge are a pair of players that not many people wanted.

For more on the Chiefs, visit WarpaintIllustrated.com