The Houston Texans may as well have packed away their gear after Kansas City’s Knile Davis returned the opening kickoff 106 yards on Saturday.
That set the tone for a total 30-0 Chiefs mismatch, as they cleared the mental barrier of not having won a playoff game since aging warriors Joe Montana and Marcus Allen were staging one final hurrah.
I really believed Houston on the road rather than Pittsburgh at home was a better draw for the Chiefs and it certainly came to fruition. The Kansas City defense made life insufferable for turnover machine Brian Hoyer, who was left on the field to take one for the team even though he was picked off four times and also had a fumble.
The Chiefs were sharp in all phases of the game to make a statement that their now 11-game winning streak was not a by-product of the soft underbelly of the schedule. They were aggressive and physical, not to mention confident. For whatever reason, they seem to have more focus on the road than they do at home.
Alex Smith did what Alex Smith does best and that’s manage the game. He had only one errant throw, a tipped pass resulting in an interception, but given how the defense played, he wasn’t required to win the game.
The injury to Jeremy Maclin, not as bad as first feared, is nevertheless concerning. He’s the one true wideout threat and his absence puts more pressure on tight end Travis Kelce, who again came up big. If there’s no Maclin against New England, the Chiefs may need to run the ball more.
As for the other playoff action, Wild-Card Weekend normally doesn't produce a lot of drama, but that wasn't the case in some of the other games.
The Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game was one of the most disgraceful exhibitions I've ever witnessed. It should have been played in a back alley, as this was a trash-talk special. The way the game ended was a low mark for the league and the NFL really needs to clean things up once and for all. It seems almost every play ends with players getting in each other's faces with a lot of shoving and taunting. I know football is a physical, violent game with a lot of emotion, but start hitting these guys with six-figure fines and make it hurt where it hurts most — in the pocketbook. There's no need for the shameful turn of events that unfolded in Cincinnati, whose fans also were a disgrace when they pelted Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with debris as he was being carted off the field because of an injury.
The Seattle-Minnesota chillfest also ended in agonizing fashion. Minnesota's Blair Walsh is one of the NFL's best kickers, but his missed field goal from inside extra-point range was a killer. Seattle, which has played in the last two Super Bowls, could very well feed off this second chance and its game this upcoming weekend with Seattle will be the best on the docket. I had Seattle winning it all at the start of the year and I'm not going to change.
Green Bay looked awful early against Washington, but once Aaron Rodgers went to the hurry-up offense, the Packers looked like the same team that started the year 6-0. But I don't like their chances in Arizona, which already has inflicted some serious Packer pain this season.