Learning From The Final Four … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Now that the NFL is down to its final four teams for the 2010 season – the Steelers, Jets, Bears and Packers – it’s time to take the magnifying glass to the games of the last two Sundays and learn what they can tell us about how far away the Chiefs might be from being part of the championship game weekend.

The way Baltimore beat the Chiefs, and then went to Pittsburgh and lost what amounted to a heavyweight fight with the Steelers it’s obvious that Todd Haley’s team went about as far as they were capable of going. They made the playoffs and won 10 games on the season, quite a change for a team that was 4-12 the season before.

But we all saw at Arrowhead Stadium in a 30-7 loss that the Chiefs were not of the same class as the Ravens, and based on results, certainly not the Steelers. They were much like the Atlanta Falcons over in the NFC – a young team, with a QB inexperienced in the post-season. The Falcons were unable to raise their level of play against the Packers and got smoked by 27 points. Atlanta played out of character, as he Falcons made all sorts of mistakes they did not do in the regular season, things like penalties, turnovers and mental mistakes.

One thing that the Chiefs can take from the 2010 playoffs so far is that they should not worry so much about playing home games in the post-season. They’ve lost their last four games in the playoffs at Arrowhead. This year, the visiting team has won five of the eight games played so far.

There are a few other lessons the Chiefs can take from the 2010 NFL playoffs:

TO WIN, A TEAM MUST PUT POINTS ON THE SCOREBOARD

The Chiefs seven points against the Ravens would not have won any of the eight games played so far. In the nine post-seasons since the NFL went to four divisions in 2002, seven points would have won only 11 of the 96 games played. The last time a team actually won a game in the playoffs scoring just seven points was in 1997, when Pittsburgh beat New England 7-6.

But here’s the key number from those 96 games in the playoffs – the average number of points scored by the winning team was 28.9 points. Essentially, if a team wants to win in the post-season, it had better be able to score at least four touchdowns.

The lack of post-season points is one of the reasons the Chiefs have now set an NFL record with seven straight failures in the playoffs. In those games, starting with the 1993 AFC Championship Game against Buffalo, the Chiefs have scored 13, 17, 7, 10, 31, 8 and 7. That’s an average of 13.3 points per game.

THE QUARTERBACK MUST PLAY WELL

Not every team has a sensational, record-setting quarterback running their offense. Even those that do, sometimes end up losing like Peyton Manning and the Colts and Tom Brady and the Patriots.

But it’s almost impossible for a team to win if the quarterback has a very bad day. A lot of things could have gone right for the Chiefs against the Ravens. But when QB Matt Cassel had the worst performance by a quarterback in the first two rounds of the playoffs, there wasn’t any way for the rest of the team to make up for that.

No other starting quarterback won while throwing more than one interception, as Cassel (3) and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (2) both ended up on the losing end. Cassel also had the worst completion percentage (50%) and worst average yards per attempt (3.9).

Here are the passing numbers for the eight games played so far:

Quarterback   Team  Att  Cmp  Yds 

Sk/Yd 

TD  LG  INT  Rating  W/L 
Aaron Rodgers2 GB  36  31  366 

2/20 

34  136.8 
Mark Sanchez2  NYJ  25  16  194 

0/0 

58  127.3 
Aaron Rodgers1  GB  27  18  180 

2/9 

20  122.5 
Joe Flacco1  BAL  34  25  265 

4/17 

28  115.4 
Matt Hasselbeck1  SEA  35  22  272 

1/6 

45  113.0 
Jay Cutler  CHI  28  15  274 

3/13

58  111.3 
Peyton Manning  IND  26  18  225 

1/6 

57  108.7 
Ben Roethlisberger  PIT  32  19  226 

6/34 

58  101.8 
Drew Brees  NO  60  39  404 

1/7 

40  95.4 
Matt Hasselbeck2  SEA  46  26  258 

2/16 

46  94.3 
Tom Brady  NE  45  29  299 

5/40 

37  89.0
Michael Vick  PHL  36  20  292 

3/21 

44  79.9 
Matt Ryan  ATL  29  20  186 

5/37 

22  69.0 
Joe Flacco2  BAL  30  16  125 

5/34 

21  66.1 
Matt Sanchez1  NYJ  31  18  189 

1/5 

24  62.4 
Matt Cassel  KC  18  9  70 

3/17 

0  22  3  20.4  L 

STOP THE RUN/RUN THE BALL

The six teams that ran for the most yards won their games. Six of the seven teams that allowed the fewest rushing yards won their games. As important as the quarterback and the passing game have become in pro football, the running game cannot be forgotten.

It’s not so much about the individual runner – in eight games there have been only two runners that went 100+ yards. Seattle beat New Orleans with Marshawn Lynch getting 131 yards and Green Bay topped Philadelphia thanks to John Starks and his 123 yards.

But the running game is key and the Chiefs did not get that done against Baltimore, giving up 142 yards, while gaining 108 yards themselves.

Defense Against the Run

Defense  Opponent  Att  Yds  Avg.  LG  TD  Top rusher  W/L 
Chicago  Seattle  12  34  2.8  13  G. Tate 1-13 
Pittsburgh  Baltimore  18  35  1.9  14  Ray Rice 12-32 
Green Bay  Atlanta  14  45  3.2  12  Turner 10-39 
Baltimore  Pittsburgh  31  71  2.3  14  Mendenhall 20-46
Seattle  New Orleans  22  77  3.5  15  J. Jones 15-59 
Green Bay  Philadelphia  21  81  3.9  14  L. McCoy 12-46 
N.Y. Jets  Indianapolis  27  93  3.4  14  Addai 13-60 
Atlanta  Green Bay  31  96  3.1  13  Starks 25-66 
Baltimore  Chiefs  19  108  5.7  41  Charles 9-82
N.Y. Jets  New England  28  113  4.0  11  Woodhead 14-26 
New England  N.Y. Jets  29  120  4.1  20  S. Greene 17-76 
Philadelphia  Green Bay  32  138  4.3  27  Starks 23-123 
Chiefs  Baltimore  40  142  3.6  25  Ray Rice 17-57 
New Orleans  Seattle  24  150  6.3  67  M. Lynch 19-131 
Indianapolis  N.Y. Jets  38  169  4.4  23  Tomlinson 16-82 
Seattle  Chicago  45  176  3.9  21  Forte 25-80 

DEFENSIVE BIG PLAYS ARE ALWAYS HUGE IN THE PLAYOFFS

It’s not failsafe, but when the defense hits the opponent with negative plays in the post-season, the effect is usually worth double that of the same plays in the regular season.

While Green Bay rode the shoulders of QB Aaron Rodgers to it’s victory on the road in Atlanta, the Packers defense was a big contributor with a total of nine negatives plays (five sacks, two interceptions, two fumbles recovered.) That left them plus-6 compared to what the Falcons were able to do against them.

The top defenses of the regular season generally do the same things in the post-season. Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and the New York Jets ranked among the top 10 defenses in the league over the 2010 season.

Negative plays caused by defense

Team  Opponent 

Sacks 

Interception 

Fumbles Rec. 

Total 

W/L 

Green Bay  Atlanta 

Pittsburgh  Baltimore 

Baltimore  Chiefs 

Baltimore  Pittsburgh 

N.Y. Jets  New England 

Chiefs  Baltimore 

Green Bay  Philadelphia 

Philadelphia  Green Bay 

Seattle  Chicago 

New Orleans Seattle 

Atlanta  Green Bay 

Chicago  Seattle 

Indianapolis  N.Y. Jets 

Seattle  New Orleans 

N.Y. Jets  Indianapolis 

New England  N.Y. Jets 

MAKING MONEY IN THE POST-SEASON

Questions have come about what type of money that NFL players make from being in the playoffs, if any money at all. There is post-season compensation for all players on the 12 teams that make the tournament.

This season, here’s what we know:

  • The Chiefs, Indianapolis and Philadelphia received $21,000 per player for losing in the first round as division champions.
  • New Orleans received $19,000 for losing in the first round as a wildcard team..
  • Seattle and Baltimore will collect $40,000 per man for being wildcard teams that lost in the second round..
  • Green Bay and the N.Y. Jets will collect $78,000 as wildcard teams for making the NFC and AFC Championship Games.
  • Pittsburgh and Chicago will collect $59,000 as division champs in the conference championship games.
  • If the Packers and Jets win the Super Bowl, they will collect $161,000 in total. Should they lose in Arlington, Texas, they will collect $120,000.
  • If the Steelers and Bears win the Super Bowl, they will collect $142,000; should they lose they’ll get $101,000.

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR JANUARY 14-15-16

  • PRO BOWL – named Titans RB Chris Johnson to the AFC squad, replacing Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew.; named Steelers DE Brett Keisel to the AFC squad, replacing Colts DE Dwight Freeney.
  • CHARGERS – named Greg Manusky defensive coordinator, last with 49ers.
  • COWBOYS – named Rob Ryan, formerly with the Browns, as defensive coordinator.
  • EAGLES – fired defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.
  • 49ERS – named Greg Roman offensive coordinator, formerly with Stanford; Vic Fangio defensive coordinator, last with Stanford; Tim Drevno offensive assistant, formerly at Stanford; Ed Donatell defensive backs coach, last with Broncos.
  • RAIDERS – fired defensive coordinator John Marshall.
  • RAVENS – released FB Jason McKie; signed G Bryan Mattison off the practice squad.
  • SEAHAWKS – signed WR Ben Obomanu to a 3-year contract extension.

11 Responses to “Learning From The Final Four … Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • January 17, 2011  - el cid says:

    Basically what you learn from the playoffs, if you do not make it or lose fairly quickly, is your team is not good enough against playoffs habitally present teams. Talent, coaching, game plan, GM decisions, and owners, all failed at some point to get their respective jobs done. That is assuming they share a common goal, winning a superbowl, being a dominate team, or what ever.

    The Chiefs are not there yet and time will tell if they are on the correct path.


  • January 17, 2011  - BigJimInWisconsin says:

    I wish we had drafted Clay Matthews of the Packers. The guy is an animal.

    Go CHIEFS!


  • January 17, 2011  - jim says:

    Cautious optomism tells me they are most probably on the right path. Key FA’s and another awesome draft will get us to the next level, but maybe still not deep in the playoffs. Another good draft, plus another year’s experience will get us there, IMO.

    We’re still two years away from being a playoff team on a regular basis..


  • January 17, 2011  - Rick says:

    .
    Considering the improvement we’ve seen in a short amount of time, I’d have to say that the Chiefs are indeed on the right track. Everything has to get better before this team is a genuine contender, but they’re working on it. At this point I see no reason not to be optimistic.


  • January 17, 2011  - Michael says:

    There’s another Mathews, also a linebacker but inside, who will enter the NFL this year. Casey Mathews out of Oregon has looked good when I’ve seen him play, but he’s not rated as highly as Clay right now. At this point, he’s rated a low pick or free agent, but I’d think he would be a good kid to have around. Great football family.

    The Packers, like the Steelers and Patriots, have enjoyed excellent player personnel acqisition for a long time. Not just drafts, but college FAs and veteran FAs, too. Stability, a plan of how to do business, knowing the kind of players you’re looking for and knowledgable personnel people will do that for a team. I believe the Chiefs seek to model those franchises.


  • January 17, 2011  - Nate says:

    I saw my 1st Chiefs game in 1965 at old municipal stadium. I have seen every chief’s game since in person or on TV, including Super Bowl 1 and Super Bowl 4. The worst day in the history of the Chiefs was when Jack Steadman’s ego couldn’t stand the credit that Bobby Bethard was getting for his knowledge in evaluating and drafting players and Lamar sided with his old college buddy Jack and Bobby Bethard left. The Chiefs have not been close to the Super Bowl since because they havn’t had someone at the GM position that was talented enough to select the right head coach and the right players in the draft to get to the Super Bowl, until Clark Hunt hired Scott Pioli. For the first time in 40 years I believe the Chiefs are on their way to the top!


  • January 17, 2011  - gorillafan says:

    Nate,

    Lets hope your right!!


  • January 17, 2011  - napahank says:

    The Success the Chief’s have next year will be predicated on “the team they put on the field each week”. This sounds elementary but consider all the factors that go into his:

    1. The ascending players we keep on the team and don’t lose via free agency.
    2. The “better” players that come on the team via draft or free agents who replace inferior players.
    3. The “front line” players who don’t end up on IR before or any time during the season..
    4. The “front line” players who don’t miss one or more games during the regular season.

    What a huge juggling act that takes place in the GM’s mind. Do you have a lot of depth with moderate quality and moderate price players as NE does or do you roll the dice with high price future HOF players and hope to God they don’t get hurt and replaced by cheap backups?

    A players greatest ability is always his availability. I like where the Chiefs are heading and yet we probably will never even try to make a “splash” in FA like some teams…and that is fine with me!


  • January 17, 2011  - Dave71 says:

    I was as dissapointed as anyone at how the season ended; not just the two consecutive losses, but the fact that they were blowouts. A good, tough team keeps games close; we didn’t do that. But after a bit of time to think about it I think this has to be one of the most positive times in many years for the chiefs franchise. Look at some of the other playoff teams & see how many contributors are sixth, seventh, eighth year guys; our secondary is 3rd, rookie, rookie,3rd. Arenas, McCluster, Moeaki- all rookies. Jamaal Charles-24. In the next season or two with good drafts & some key free agent pickups we could take the next step as long as Haley stays as relentless in his attention to detail. Need a top flite, innovative O.C. Did I see correctly that Denver RT Ryan Harris available as free agent? He would make an awesome addition to our OL. If he is available & we could somehow possibly get Fitzgerald, it would lighten our load of needs on draft day.


  • January 18, 2011  - Edward says:

    This team doesn’t have to win a Super Bowl prove there going in right direction. I think winning the divison in 2yrs of new regime speaks for itself. I’m not thinking any let’s of Pats or Ravens jus because they lost these are still 1st class organizations only can be 1 winner. Chiefs will be fine. Arrow is pointing up for this organization.


  • January 18, 2011  - rob says:

    As “BBQ Billy Moss” observed, all of the teams predicted to advance in the Playoffs this season had one thing in common, teams with the most physically intimidating athletes would advance and KC is the opposite of that.

    Regretfully, his postseason prediction for KC was accurate. I just hope Pioli is listening so we don’t have to wait another 40 Yrs for a Championship; quit signing little players at skill positions, undersized O & D lineman. Sign players that can play with attitude and have the size to back it up. As a Chiefs fan, I don’t want to see Fantasy Football stars, I want a team of players feared by their opponents. The Chief’s were convincingly manhandled when they played physically superior athletes i.e. Oakland, Baltimore. Until they become a power vs. deception team, we are in for more of the same; not likely to ever be more than a .500 team.

    As great as it was to see the Red & Gold in the Payoffs, it’s no fun seeing your favorite team manhandled by physically superior opponents. I long for the day when opponents actually fear playing the Chief’s again, which unfortunately, hasn’t happened 40 years. It’s no secret what consistent winners in the NFL do, they have solid O & D lines. If there is a draft this year, maybe Pioli can finally follow the winning model and draft accordingly.




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