Well at least the Chiefs are consistent in their approach to how they start the season. That is a positive right? Between the Chiefs getting worked by the Falcons and the giant letdown that was the Mizzou game is was it was rough weekend for Kansas City area sports teams. The good thing is all the teams that lost last weekend have a chance to redeem themselves. Some of them with better chances than others.
1. Water Buffalo:
For the fifth year in a row the Chiefs find the Buffalo Bills on their schedule. This match up carries a little more cache than the previous ones (more on that to come) but this is an important game for both teams. The Bills were viewed as a sleeper playoff team coming into the season and they looked nothing like that in the 48-28 beat down the New York Jets laid on them in week one.
The Chiefs were viewed as the team with the most overall talent in the AFC West and one that would compete for the division title. Much like the Bills, the Chiefs looked nothing like that while getting embarrassed at home by the Atlanta Falcons. Both teams find themselves 0-1 and both teams are looking at this game as their opportunity to get healthy and secure their first victory of the season.
The key to winning this game is going to be defense but not in the usual sense. In week one both of these defenses looked like hot garbage on the side of the street. The Chiefs had the excuse of Tamba Hali's suspension and the injuries to Brandon Flowers and Kendrick Lewis. The Bills were not afforded such a luxury.
In the off-season the Bill made news by signing former #1 overall draft pick, DE Mario Williams to a six-year contract that could potentially by worth $100 million. And what did all of that money get Bills in the opening game of the season? A giant goose egg. That is what it got them. Their defense made the New York Jets look like the greatest show on turf. That was the same Jets team that did not score an offensive touchdown in the preseason until its final preseason game. Based on that I look for the Chiefs to move the ball on the Bills much like they did in the first half vs. the Falcons.
As far as the boys in red and gold their defense should be better than it was in their season opener. As mentioned earlier the return of Tamba Hali will greatly improve the team's pass rush. I mean it can't get much worse than last week. Hali will not cure all the ills that afflicted the Chiefs last week. The return of Brandon Flowers would be a giant help to the Chiefs passing defense that avoided Julio Jones like he had cooties. Flowers has been a bigger participant in practice this week but I still put him as 50/50 to play on Sunday. Even if Flowers is able to suit up and play vs. the Bills on Sunday I do not see him having his usual Brandon Flowers impact on the game.
I mentioned early about the history between these two teams and it centers around Chiefs safety Eric Berry and Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson. Last season in the home opener Stevie Johnson took a cheap shot at Eric Berry's legs and cut them out from underneath him. This was the play that torn Eric Berry's ACL and sidelined him for the entire 2011 season. Stevie Johnson and the rest of the Bills claim this was not a cheap shot and it was a hustle play that happens in football. Cutting a guys legs when you two are no where near the action of the play and he is not facing you is a dirty play. The Chiefs remember that play. Eric Berry remembers that play. The Bills and Stevie Johnson remember that play as well. Something is going to happen in this game as a result of that dirty play last season. I do not know what but it will happen.
2. Will the real Jon Baldwin please stand up?
So lets talk about Jon Baldwin and what he did in the opening game of the season. Well...that was quick
According to all of the stat sites Jon Baldwin was in for 22 snaps during that game. I, for one can't recall off the top of my head any of those plays. I have no clue what is going on with Jon Baldwin and his extreme lack of production this season.
Early on in training camp stories began to follow about how amazing Baldwin was performing in practice like it was a TLC music video. The stories centered around the idea that Baldwin had ascended to a point where being Dwayne Bowe's replacement was more fact than fiction. Then once the preseason games started we saw none of that. Baldwin's first reception of the preseason quickly became a fumble and a turnover for the team. But it was the preseason so I did not became overly alarmed. After his lack of performance in the week one loss to the Falcons I am now declaring this Threat Level Midnight.
How did Jon Baldwin not have any targets in a game where Matt Cassel threw the ball 33 times. That should not be happening to a receiver who was drafted in the first round and is in his second year in the league. Year 2 for a player is when they make the biggest jump of their career. See Julio Jones. Why was Baldwin so ineffective in the game? Was this some kind of punishment or in game suspension that everyone is just keeping a lid on? Was he just an over hyped Chiefs PR creation? I don't know the answer to any of those questions. But I will say this much. If Baldwin has a similar no show performance this week then the Chiefs offense has taken a giant step back that i didn't think was possible this season.
3. Fried Jayhawk with a side order of Rice:
Kansas Jayhawks fans were hoping days like these were behind them. They thought that hiring Charlie Weis to take over the football program would mean that embarrassing home losses would soon become a thing of the past. Well, looks like they are going to have to wait a little longer on that. Blowing an eight point lead at home to Rice was not part of Charlie Weis' master plan when he said the program needed to get back to the point where they are making back-to-back bowl games. But on Saturday evening that fate became a reality for the KU football program.
After the giant misstep vs. Rice last weekend Charlie Weis is now answering questions concerning the competency level of the coaching staff he has assembled. To make things even better KU welcomes new Big 12 member and #16 ranked TCU to Lawrence on Saturday. This could get real ugly real quick for the Jayhawks.
TCU are playing in their first Big 12 game ever. The narrative surrounding TCU joining the Big 12 is that they better prepare for a rude awakening on what it means to play big time college football. The major knock on TCU was and is that they are able to play up for their one big game a year vs. a BCS conference opponents and then they fatten up the rest of their record on your lame conference opponents. Then they parlay that into a birth in a BCS Bowl Game.
They now have the opportunity to show the nation they are not an overrated, decent team with an inflate record. They want to show everyone that they are a top tier program that can compete at the highest competition. This is TCU's chance to put the rest of the conference on notice and they are going to do it at KU's expense.
It is going to be a long season for Charlie Weis as he slowly works at undoing the damage left by Turner Gill. A beat down at the hands of TCU is just the next step in the process.
4. Fighting irrelevance:
I was going to use this space to write about the importance of Arizona State vs MU game and Mizzou need to bounce back from the Georgia loss. But for some reason the news of Notre Dame joining the ACC in all sports expect football and hockey continues to be a big story in Big 12 country.
I get the infatuation with the Fighting Irish but I also don't get it. I understand the national recognition and built in fan base due to a religion that comes with Notre Dame but when does the fact that they have not been relevant in the landscape of college football start to set in. Notre Dame is simply a name and nothing more at this point. Earlier this week I was posed the question of when was the last time you watched an entire Notre Dame football game? For me it was the 2007 Sugar Bowl when Brady Quinn and the rest of the Golden Domers were rolled by LSU 41-14. Ask yourself that same question. When was the last time a Notre Dame football game was appointment television for you?
College football fans have been held hostage by the name brand that is Notre Dame for too long. To me, the move to the ACC is just as irrelevant as Boise State joining the Big East conference. Wake me up when Notre Dame fully commits to a conference and quits acting like they are some more than a mediocre college football program.
5. The Lawnmower man returns:
Shocker, the only way the Kansas City Royals can make it on to my Five-Orite Friday list is because of the opponent they are playing. Starting tonight the Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim start a 3 game series at The K and on Saturday night Zack Greinke will make his second appearance as a visiting pitcher at Kauffman stadium this season. This should be the third appearance for Greinke at The K but for some ungodly reason Greinke was left off the N.L. All-Star roster.
I am a Zack Greinke fan. Hands down he is one of my five favorite pitchers to watch in MLB right now. In case you are wondering the other four are David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays, Tim Lincecum from the San Francisco Giants, Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies, and Greinke's Angels teammate Dan Haren.
Zack Greinke was my favorite Royals player while he was on the team and he continued to be one of my favorites after he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. For me the best part of watching baseball is watching really good starting pitching. Zack Greinke provided that for me for many years. I always made a point to attend as many of Greinke's starts in person as I could and this weekend is no exception. I was in attendance when he came back a member of the Brewers and will be there this time as the Angels roll through KC. This time Greinke's return is not carrying the same hype as his previous one for many reasons. The biggest one being that it is football season and the Royals graciously bowed out many weeks ago to make room for the Chiefs and the local college football teams.
I checked out on the Royals a while back but that is not going to stop me from giving my time and money to go out there and see one of the better pitchers in Major League Baseball. If you only go to one more Royals game this season I would suggest you make it this one.
Follow me on twitter @craig_a_brenner and until next week peace out!