BILLS BIGGEST CHALLENGER? – I’ve maintained all season that I believe the biggest challenger to the Kansas City Chiefs getting back to the Super Bowl is Baltimore – my pick to win it all before the season.
The Ravens at one point were on the outside looking in, but a hot streak has vaulted them back into the postseason race and all they need to do is win Sunday against Cincinnati, which is 4-10-1 and without its starting quarterback.
But another team has started to open my eyes – the Buffalo Bills.
And why not? The Bills are 12-3 and have won five games in a row, mostly by lopsided margins.
Maybe I dismissed the Bills after Kansas City went into Buffalo and made it look easy. The final was 26-17, but in actuality the game wasn’t that close. The Kansas City offense had its way with the Bills’ defense, doing about whatever it wanted.
But the Bills are playing with an air of confidence. They dismantled New England on Monday night and while the Patriots are just a shell of their former selves, they’re still coached by Bill Belichick, who remains a master strategist. But for all his wiles, he had no answer for Allen and the Bills, who simply shredded the punchless Pats.
Pittsburgh, despite losing three of four, can’t be counted out. The Steelers have had the Chiefs’ number in recent years and I have a bad feeling if the teams meet because the Chiefs’ suspect offensive line could be overwhelmed by the Pittsburgh front. And the Chiefs’ pass defense has been leaky.
The good news about the Chiefs securing the bye is they have to win one less game to make the Super Bowl. They’ll also be home throughout, though this year that’s not that big of an advantage. In fact, the Chiefs in all honestly have played better on the road than at home.
PADRES THE NEW “IT” TEAM? – If the two proposed trades go through for the San Diego Padres, they’re going to go from anonymity to the spotlight.
The Padres had a breakout season in the shortened 2020 campaign, advancing to the postseason. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado are as good of a 1-2 duo as there is, and former Royals Eric Hosmer and Will Myers aren’t bad complements.
But if the Padres indeed acquire pitchers Blake Snell and Yu Darvish as reported, they could have enough to overcome the World Champion Dodgers.
Snell and Darvish are Cy Young guys and Darvish is coming off a phenomenal year. Snell is a pitcher’s pitcher, though he doesn’t go deep into games. But he’s probably in the Top 5 currently in the game, as is Darvish if he repeats his 2020 season.
The Padres are gambling that they can win now and not wait for the bushel of top prospects they are about to deal away to develop.
LONG BREAK – Normally high school winter sports teams would be back at practice preparing for the 2021 portion of the schedule.
But this isn’t your normal year. Due to COVID, teams are off until Jan. 4, which gives them precious little practice time before returning to action on Jan. 8 at the earliest.
Hopefully the athletes are working out on their own and staying in shape.