Tag:Kansas City Chiefs
Posted on: December 4, 2011 1:56 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 6:08 pm
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Orton in one play, hurts finger

Orton

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

UPDATE 6:04 p.m. ET: After the game, Orton wouldn't say whether his finger was broken or whether he could have returned to the game, although he allowed that the injury was painful.

"Whatever the situation was ... I was pretty sore," Orton said, via Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain.

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Early in the second quarter, the “Kyle Orton as the Chiefs quarterback “ era officially began as he replaced Tyler Palko with Kansas City in a scoreless tie against the Bears.

But one play into his regime, after the Chiefs attempted a flea-flicker, Orton hurt what appeared to be his index finger and he left the game.

Orton was hit by safety Major Wright, and Orton immediately grabbed his hand in pain. He motioned to the sideline, and immediately, Palko -- who is 4 for 6 for 27 yards -- returned to the game as trainers began to examine Orton.

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 1:00 pm
 

Coach Killers, Week 12: beware of untested QBs

Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat.

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Steve Johnson, Bills

First things first: we have absolutely no issue with Stevie Johnson's touchdown skit. Up till the moment he fell to the ground, at which point it became a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration. Prior to that, it was original and funny, two things we could use more of in the staid environs of Roger Goodell's NFL.

We can't take our eyes off the cousin Eddie-inspired dickie.
In fact, the biggest travesty -- outside of the way Johnson played on the final drive -- was the mock incredulity and sanctimony from folks who found the dance offensive (Looks at Bob Costas, who we've taken to calling "Sprockets" after that black mock turtleneck number from Sunday night) because Johnson was making fun of Plaxico Burress, who accidentally shot himself in the leg three years ago.

Here's the thing: Plax shot himself in the leg three years ago. It's not like Johnson was making fun of someone with a special-needs child, or a cancer survivor. He was clowning a dude who carried a gun to a night club, and inadvertently put a bullet in his thigh.

Oh, he also served nearly two years for the incident, on concealed weapons charges.


Buffalo Bills WR Stevie Johnson mocks Plaxico Burress' gun incident during a touchdown celebration against the New York Jets on Sunday.

To recap: Johnson's TD dance: hilarious. Getting a 15-yard penalty: not hilarious. Dropping a perfect pass from Fitzpatrick on the Bills' last drive, one that would've given the Bills the lead: unacceptable, especially if you're going to mock the opposition.

Johnson apologized immediately after the game, which doesn't change the final score.

"I was just having fun, and part of having fun ended up being a penalty and a touchdown for the Jets," he said. "It was a stupid decision by myself."

Head coach Chan Gailey, doing everything in his power not to blow a gasket with the cameras rolling, said "I think it was wrong. I told him so. What I hate is that game is remembered for his one action rather than a lot of good things he did in the game. I told him where I stand on it, and he knows exactly."

When asked about possible sanctions against Johnson, Gailey added: "If I were to discipline everybody (for dumb mistakes), there wouldn't be any players or coaches out there. Everybody makes mistakes."

On Monday, ESPN's Merril Hoge went so far as to suggest that Gailey should cut Johnson for his selfish behavior. That ain't happening because despite Johnson's horrible timing, as ProFootballTalk.com's Michael David Smith pointed out on Monday's Pick-6 Podcast, Johnson is one of the few players who made Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis look human in coverage.


Burress, for his part, seemed unaffected by Johnson's end zone interpretive dance.

"I've seen worse, and I've heard worse," said Burress, who spent nearly two years in an upstate New York prison. "So, it doesn't bother me at all. The result I'm looking at is we won the football game ... and he turned around and dropped three wide-open balls to lose it for his team."

Curtis Painter, Colts

At this point, 11 games into the season and still searching for their first win, we're probably piling on. But the Colts don't have to be oh-fer-'11. Not only did they look like a proper football team against the Panthers Sunday, they had a legitimate chance to win an actual football game.

And then Curtis Painter, unable to get out of his own way, derailed those plans with two ill-timed throws -- both interceptions -- during a four-minute span late in the fourth quarter with Indianapolis trailing by eight points.

The first pick came at the Carolina four-yard line with four and a half minutes to go. After the Colts' defense forced a three-and-out, Painter led an 11-play drive that ended with another interception, this time in the Panthers' end zone with 35 seconds remaining.

It's impossible to imagine a scenario that would have Indy sitting at 0-11, even without Peyton Manning. And yet here we are. Painter Bears little of the responsibility for the organization's current predicament; that falls squarely at the feet of Bill Polian and Chris Polian, the architects of the current roster. That doesn't make the latest loss any easier to take.

"I don't know what you can call beyond frustrated," defensive end Robert Mathis said, via the Indianapolis Star.

And head coach Jim Caldwell, who could be looking for work after the season, leaned on feel-good bromides to get him through the latest defeat.

"You can't complain after the ballgame's over," he said. "You've just got to find a way to make it happen. …One of the things you'd like to do is give yourself a chance to win, that you're there at the end and it's just a matter of a play made here or there. I think we did that, but our goal is to win."

If you say so, Jim. We're guessing in your end-of-year meeting with owner Jim Irsay, aspiring to win won't be enough.

Caleb Hanie, Bears

There were certainly worse performance in Week 12, but the absolute worst play, in our estimation, had to be Hanie's delayed fake spike with seconds on the clock and the Bears trailing by five points. The thing is, a delayed fake spike isn't like your run-of-the-mill spike to stop the clock. Turns out, it's intentional grounding. Either you can fake the spike and throw the ball (made famous by Dan Marino), or, you know, actually spike it and stop the clock.

                                           HOW TO vs. HOW NOT TO PROPERLY EXECUTE THE FAKE SPIKE


‘‘We didn’t have any fakes or anything like that,’’ Hanie said afterwards. ‘‘That was just my fault." Forced into duty after Jay Cutler broke his thumb against the Chargers, Hanie also threw three first-half interceptions, which lead to this post-game observation. "It's just not a good time to have a learning experience."

Not helping Hanie's chances for success: offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the man who said he had no intentions of asking Hanie to be Kurt Warner (we thought that went without saying). Martz, it turns out, also had no intentions of crafting a game plan for an inexperienced backup.

Our good buddy Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com's Eye on Baseball blogger and diehard Bears fan, was pretty worked up with Hanie's third interception. Not because it happened near the Raiders' end zone, or that it resulted in three Oakland points before the half, but because Martz had Hanie sprint right before throwing a screen pass to his left across the field. It's not an easy play for veterans well-versed in the offense, never mind a kid making his first NFL start.

Tyler Palko, Chiefs

One word to describe Palko's play the last two weeks: mesmerizing. Clearly, we don't mean that in a "Stop what you're doing, Devin Hester's about to return a punt!" way. More like "Stop what you're doing, spectacular train wreck ahead." And Palko didn't disappoint. He's left-handed, and his throwing motion is reminscent of Tim Tebow's. The difference? Tebow has eight touchdowns to one interception. Palko has six picks in two games. Tebow also has better arm strength and is more accurate.

Tebow also doesn't blame his intended target whenever a pass invariably finds the unintended target, which is exactly what Palko did on three separate occasions Sunday night against the Steelers. It's one thing for a receiver to run the wrong route, or for miscommunication to lead to mistakes. But you watch these throws (here and here) and tell me how anybody but Palko is at fault.

But it was the Chiefs' final offensive play that proved to be the worst. Trailing 13-9 and with about 30 seconds to go, Kansas City was driving. And then Palko happened. Yep, another pick, this time to Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis. After the play, NBC color analyst Cris Collinsworth thought Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe quit on the play.

You can judge for yourself below, but here's what we're thinking: the ball was so horribly off-target that Bowe went up, realized that he had absolutely no chance to get a finger on it much less catch it, and decided to protect himself. We have no problem with that. Bowe's career shouldn't hinge on the erratic whims of Palko's arm. As NFL Network's Deion Sanders pointed out Sunday night, Palko's the type of quarterback the opposing team make sure gets to the game. "You send a limo for him," Primetime said.


Palko's third and final interception Sunday night. Yep, that was his fault, too.

Facial Hair Fails

This has absolutely nothing to do with job security, but we noticed a sudden influx of mustachioed NFL players (or in Ricky Stanzi's case, hippies) over the weekend. (Click photos to see our best guess at their inspirations.)


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Posted on: November 26, 2011 3:08 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 3:38 pm
 

There's a chance Orton is inactive vs. Steelers

Orton could be the No. 3 QB behind Palko and Stanzi Sunday night. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Kyle Orton era won't begin in Kansas City this week. In fact, Orton might be the Chiefs' third quarterback when they face the Steelers Sunday night. Claimed on waivers Wednesday after the Broncos took mercy on his soul and released him, Orton gives Kansas City a veteran presence under center to replace starter Matt Cassel, who was placed on injured reserve Monday with a hand injury. It's just that Orton might not get his chance until Week 13 at the earliest.

On Friday, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley said that Orton could be the team's No. 3 quarterback behind starter Tyler Palko and rookie Ricky Stanzi. Other than last Monday night against the Patriots, Kansas City kept the third quarterback inactive on game days.

So what does that mean for Orton this Sunday?

“I wouldn’t rule out anything at this point, other than Tyler starting the game,” Haley said Friday, according to the Kansas City Star's Kent Babb. “We’ll just have to see.”

Haley indicated that Orton's role will be determined by how much of the playbook he's able to learn since arriving Friday.

“We’ve got to get Kyle assimilated into how we’re doing things,” Haley said, “and make decisions as we get closer to the game.”

Best-case scenario, then: Orton makes his appearance next week, with five games left in the regular season. As it stands, the Chiefs are tied for last in the AFC West, two games back of the Raiders.

And even if Kansas City finds a way to get by Pittsburgh (and that's a long shot), their schedule is the league's toughest for the final month of the season: at the Bears, at the Jets, Packers, Raiders, at the Broncos.

So even if Orton plays like it's 2010, where he ranked 12th in Football Outsiders' QB efficiency metrics (3,653 passing yards, 20 TDs, 9 INTs) -- which put him just ahead of Michael Vick, Cassel and Eli Manning -- it won't be enough to get the Chiefs back to the playoffs.


The Pittsburgh Steelers will prepare to take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium. Who will come out with the victory? NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz take a look at this matchup.

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Posted on: November 23, 2011 11:07 pm
 

Film Room: Steelers vs. Chiefs preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Let’s be honest: Chiefs-Steelers is not a great matchup. It’s the Sunday night game because this week’s great matchups all fall on Turkey Day. A straight-up breakdown of this game would yield predictable analysis, with a “take your pick” list of reasons why the Steelers can be expected to cruise to victory (the most obvious being, Tyler Palko’s tendency to pat the ball and re-hitch in the pocket; if the Patriots D generated sacks and interceptions off that weakness, what will the Steelers D do?).

But this matchup is certainly not worthless. Analyzing its contrasts and comparisons gives us a chance to examine some of the broader pictures of today’s NFL. Here are five of them.


1. Valuing an offensive line
As passing games have evolved rapidly in recent years, we’ve started to change our outlook on offensive lines. These days every lineman weighs north of 300, and a lot of them move pretty well. What separates good and bad lines is the mental approach. The aggressiveness and versatility of blitzing defenses has put a premium on blockers’ intelligence.

It doesn’t matter how well a lineman moves his feet if those feet are taking him to the wrong assignment. With the league-wide increase in Byzantine defenses and quick, timing-based passes, for an offensive lineman, recognizing an assignment is often more challenging and important than executing an assignment.

The Steelers offensive line, battling countless injuries and personnel changeability the past few seasons, has struggled mightily at times in recognizing pass-blocking assignments. This is a window into another revelation. The idea that you need a great offensive line to protect your quarterback is becoming less and less valid. The reality is you need a great quarterback to protect your offensive line.

Now, don’t take this too far. Of course you need to protect your quarterback. But in today’s pass-oriented league, one superstar quarterback can compensate for five “not-so-superstar” offensive linemen. Most superstar quarterbacks do it through presnap reads (see Brees, Drew or Manning, Peyton -- two guys who have played behind arguably the worst offensive tackle combinations of their respective conferences the past few years). Ben Roethlisberger does it through incredible postsnap improvisational abilities.

No one can argue that the Steelers have had anything more than an average offensive line the past five seasons. But no one can argue that the Steelers offense has not been still been successful. It’s when your quarterback is, say a 28-year-old left-handed fringe backup, that your offensive line woes become problematic.

2. 3-4 defensive ends
A leading ingredient to the Steelers’ defensive success has been the outstanding play of their ends. This ingredient was secret until just recently, when Brett Keisel finally went to the Pro Bowl and casual observers finally appreciated Aaron Smith after injuries took him out of the lineup. The value of great 3-4 ends is that they can attract forms of double teams.

(We say forms of double-teams because there’s a misguided belief that a double-team is one player needing to be blocked by two blockers for an entire play; in reality, for an end, attracting a double-team simply means forcing a guard or tight end to make some sort of contact with you in a manner that prevents them from being able to get out in front and block an inside linebacker. Making that contact last the first 1.5 to 2 seconds of a play is all it takes. For many intents and purposes, a 3-4 end is actually more of a blocker than a pulling guard.)

The Steelers scheme calls for the ends to disrupt through motion more than power. Lateral mobility is a key trait. If both ends are destructive along the line of scrimmage, Pittsburgh’s three defensive linemen will stalemate the opposing team’s five offensive linemen, leaving room for the four linebackers to make plays. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert recognizes the value of this; he invested his ‘09 first-round pick on Ziggy Hood and his ’11 first-rounder on Cameron Heyward.

Scott Pioli also recognized this value when he became the Chiefs general manager in 2009. He converted defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, the No. 5 overall pick in ’08, to end and spent his No. 3 overall pick in ’09 on LSU’s Tyson Jackson. The results, however, have been disappointing. Dorsey and Jackson are both movement-oriented players. Problem is, Kansas City’s scheme is more like New England’s old 3-4, where the ends cause disruption not through motion but through sheer power.

Consequently, neither Dorsey nor Jackson have been worthy of consistent double teams. That was painfully apparent watching the Broncos-Chiefs film from Week 10. The Broncos didn’t win that game because Tim Tebow mastered the read option -- they won because their tackles manhandled the Chiefs ends one-on-one, allowing the guards to easily get a body on inside linebackers Derrick Johnson and Javon Belcher.

3. Chiefs Injuries impact -- tight end versatility
You could argue that Kansas City’s season ended when tight end Tony Moeaki tore his ACL in August. Moeaki was not just a flexible receiver who could work off the line of scrimmage or out of the slot -- he was also a versatile run-blocker. His ability to operate out of shifts and motions brought potency to the play-action game and allowed the Chiefs to disguise a lot of their run concepts.

In this sense, Moeaki was very similar to Heath Miller, Pittsburgh’s steady, soft-handed, fundamentally fine-tuned X-factor. In today’s NFL, where every play is preceded by a chess match at the line of scrimmage, a tight end who is versatile in the run AND pass game is invaluable.

4. Chiefs injury impact -- safety versatility
Same concept as tight end, just different side of the ball. The loss of Eric Berry (ACL Week 1) not only took away Kansas City’s rangiest pass defender, it also took away Romeo Crennel’s third-level blitzes, which previously had given opponents fits. Berry’s speed and open-field hitting made him an easily disguisable weapon. With him out, the Chiefs don’t just lose his big plays, they also lose the indecisiveness that his presence naturally instills in opponents.

As far as a parallel to this in the Steelers defense ... you can probably figure it out on your own

5. Understanding the value of a playmaker
On a similar note, let’s take this opportunity to grasp the full value of a playmaker like Jamaal Charles (lost for the season with an ACL in Week 2). As with Berry, when a weapon like Charles goes out, you don’t just lose explosive plays, you lose the threat of explosive plays. Charles was Kansas City’s only true playmaker (that is, a guy who can regularly create his own opportunities with the ball in his hands; the Steelers have two players like this: Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace).

It would take 10,000 words to explain, but in short, in watching film, it’s apparent that the difference between the way defenses attack an offense that has a truly explosive weapon versus the way a defense attacks an offense that don’t have one is staggering.

That likely stems from the difference in preparation during the week. Think about it. How much practice time does a defense devote specifically to “not getting killed” by Charles? With him gone, that’s how much practice time the defense now has to devote towards creating unique ways to attack.

A business analogy: as a defense, prepping for Charles is like sitting around the boardroom talking about covering your bases so you don’t get sued; prepping for “no Charles” is like sitting around the boardroom brainstorming the next big idea. Which meeting will ultimately lead to more sales?

What’s more, for an offense, when it becomes apparent that your gameplan is not working, a true playmaker still offers the hope and possibility of success. (And all the players know this.) Without a true playmaker, a staggering offense often hopes to simply control the damage by waiting for a lucky break. When that’s reflected in the play-calling, the entire team becomes reactionary.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 12 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 23, 2011 9:11 pm
 

Palko, not Orton, will start for KC vs. Steelers

PalkoPosted by Josh Katzowitz

While the Chiefs made a big splash today claiming Kyle Orton off waivers, it’ll be an extra week before he’s officially Kansas City’s starting quarterback. As the Kansas City Star writes, Orton won’t be the one taking the snaps Sunday when the Chiefs meet Pittsburgh.

Instead, it'll be Tyler Palko once again.

Orton will try to get to Chiefs headquarters in time Thursday to take his physical, and assuming he passes, he most likely will practice with his new team. But since he’d be a day behind the NFL typical week of practice (Wednesday marks the first day) and trying to learn a new offense with new verbiage and signals, it’s unlikely he’d be prepared enough to take over the team’s reigns for Sunday.

It’s not unlike how the Raiders treated Carson Palmer after they traded for him, giving Kyle Boller the start in his place. In that case, Boller was terrible, and a desperate Hue Jackson inserted a clearly unprepared Palmer into the lineup in the second half and then rewarded his coach by throwing three horrendous-looking interceptions.

Considering the Raiders were actually playing the Chiefs that day, coach Todd Haley should remember how poorly that decision went for Jackson.

Haley didn’t talk to Palko about any upcoming changes for the Pittsburgh game.

“He didn’t tell me either way," Palko said. “He just said we’re going full speed ahead for Pittsburgh. I was in the huddle today calling plays and we have a really good plan. I’m fired up about it.”

Palko would like to atone for last Monday’s game when he threw three interceptions against the Patriots and took a 34-3 loss that dropped Kansas City to 4-6 and into a tie for last place in the AFC West. But with the addition of Orton, Kansas City obviously is still very serious about catching the 6-4 first-place Raiders to defend last year’s title.

And if Orton is the man who eventually takes over the starting job -- like, say, in Week 13 -- Palko will understand.

“This game is not for the faint of heart,’’ Palko said. “You can’t be sensitive. You can’t worry about things you can’t control. This is a bottom-line business. It’s about wins.’’

Orton has proven he can get them. Palko has not.

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Posted on: November 23, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2011 5:22 pm
 

Chiefs claim Kyle Orton off waivers

Orton, Tebow

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Kyle Orton and the Bears won’t be reunited after all. Rapid Reporter Bob Gretz has confirmed an ESPN report that the Chiefs have claimed him off waivers from the Broncos.

Which makes perfect sense for Kansas City. Considering Matt Cassel is out for the season and Tyler Palko wasn’t great (but not completely terrible) last Monday against the Patriots -- he went 24 for 37 for 230 yards, three interceptions and a 48.3 rating in a 34-3 loss -- the Chiefs obviously feel like Orton gives them a chance to compete for the AFC West title.

Where they’re competing against (surprise!) the Broncos for a potential division championship. The two squads will face each other Jan. 1 in Kansas City in a contest that could have major playoff implications, especially if Tim Tebow continues to lead Denver to wins and Orton can reinvigorate the Chiefs. Entering this week, the Raiders are 6-4 to lead the AFC West, but the Broncos are 5-5 and are followed by the 4-6 Chiefs and Chargers.

The Tebow, Orton eras begin ...
So, basically, the entire division is up for grabs.

For those who wonder if Orton would decline to travel to Kansas City to fulfill his obligations, I think you can safely close the door on those thoughts. Don’t you think he would vastly enjoy ruining the Broncos season for his new team’s own benefit?

Yet, that’s also what makes this transaction strange. The Broncos must have known there was an awfully good chance the Chiefs would claim Orton -- I mean, John Elway probably watched that Monday night game and saw what Palko means to that team , right? -- if they waived him. Since Orton will be a free agent after this season, there’s a decent chance he’ll sign elsewhere in the offseason, and that means the Chiefs could win a compensatory draft pick* if they lose him.

*Can you imagine if the Chiefs beat the Broncos, expose Tim Tebow, win the AFC West and THEN get a mid-round draft pick for him?

On the Denver side, Tebow, who knocked Orton out of the starting quarterback role, seemed happy for his former colleague.

"Congratulations to him,” Tebow said, via the Denver Post. “That’ll be fun to play him the last game of the year."

But won’t Orton have a big advantage in knowing what kind of offense the Broncos run and the signals they use? After all, Orton ran that offense for the first five games of the season.

"Obviously he knows it pretty well, so he could probably give away a few things,” Tebow said. “But I think we’ll be OK.”

The Bears and Cowboys also made waiver claims on Orton, meaning that even if the Chiefs didn’t win him, Orton would be traveling to Dallas now based on the waiver order. What’s interesting about the claim made by the Cowboys -- who obviously have a starting quarterback named Tony Romo but have a backup in Jon Kitna who has a balky back -- is that it smells like Dallas claimed him simply to block Chicago from getting him.

That’s because the two teams will battle for one of the NFC wild card spots, and the Cowboys know as well as anybody that Chicago would have a better chance of accomplishing that if it played Orton instead of Caleb Hanie.

Meanwhile, the Bears announced that Jay Cutler underwent thumb surgery Wednesday and should begin rehab “within the next few days.” Chicago will still have Hanie starting this week and the forseeable future, though the team also announced that it’s signed Josh McCown to a one-year deal Wednesday. Not quite as exciting as landing Orton. But it’s something, I suppose.

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Posted on: November 22, 2011 3:01 pm
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Thanksgiving Games Preview

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

It took 15 minutes of football for the Patriots offense to get warmed up Monday night, but once they did they made easy work of the Chiefs, who were forced to start journeyman quarterback Tyler Palko.

What does the win mean for New England? In the short term, it puts a little more distance between them and the rest of the AFC East. Taking the longer view, the Patriots have one more "tough" game -- the Eagles in Week 13 -- then it's smooth sailing until the playoffs.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, are in desperate need of a quarterback. Palko lacks arm strength and accuracy, and it's reasonable to think that Kansas City will invite some veterans in to work out.

We also preview the three Thanksgiving Day games: can the Lions upset the Packers? Do the Dolphins really have a chance to beat the Cowboys? And what are we to make of Harbaugh Bowl I?

We talk about that and more. (Also note: we'll be back Friday for a quick rest-of-Week 12 preview podcast. Enjoy the turkey, everybody.) 

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: November 22, 2011 12:12 am
Edited on: November 22, 2011 9:25 am
 

Pats kick off cupcake cruise to AFC's top seed

Posted by Will Brinson



Early on, it seemed like there might be a chance to praise Tyler Palko for his play in New England, on short notice and during a primetime television matchup on Monday night. But Palko finished with three interceptions and New England blew Kansas City out 34-3, beginning what should be a run to get the Patriots on the top of the heap heading into the AFC playoffs.

Are they the best team in the conference? No, probably not. And Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Co. are definitely in a class below the NFC's best offering, the Packers. But there's no reason to think they won't challenge for the top seed in the AFC and make a run in the playoffs.

For starters, the AFC East is all but locked up now -- even if the Jets win out, all the Patriots have to do is go 3-3 the rest of the way to lock in another division title.

And given the remaining schedule New England has, they could do that with Vince Wilfork taking all the carries in the backfield.



New England heads to Philadelphia in Week 12, then gets the Colts in Gillette, then travels to Washington, and then to Denver, before playing the Dolphins and Bills at home to close out.

Miami and Denver are showing signs of life and Philly's always dangerous, but 3-3 is an absolute worst-case scenario for the Pats. More likely? The defense continues to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks -- and what a group they'll be playing, eh? -- and we start to view the Pats as Super Bowl contenders.

We've noted this several times over the past few weeks, but in 2010, the Patriots were "done" after a Week 9 loss to Cleveland. All Tom Brady did the rest of the season was not throw an interception as New England stormed to 14-2 and the best record in the NFL.

It's unlikely they finish with the best record this year, but they could certainly pull off the second-best record, and that's good enough for the top seed in the AFC.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com