• SIT OR PLAY? — Andy Reid is going to play some poker on Sunday in sunny San Diego.
Does he hold ‘em or fold ‘em?
Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs are already assured of being the No. 5 seed in next week’s NFL playoffs, though their final road destination has not been determined.
It’s most likely Indianapolis, which this past Sunday throttled the Chiefs and made them look like playoff impostors. There’s a slight chance it could be New England and the thought of Tom Brady going up against the Chiefs’ almost-invisible secondary and tepid pass rush has to send chills up the spines of KC’s fans. Even though he doesn’t have the receiving corps of the past, Brady has managed to put up All-Pro numbers again this season.
No matter what happens Sunday, though, the Chiefs know they’re on the road next week. And from early indications, Reid will do so with a healthy team, as he might just sit many of his starters.
The game means much more to the Chargers. While it’s an outside chance, they could still get in the playoffs if some scenarios fall perfectly into place.
If Reid does rest his regulars, you might say that it’s unfair to the three other teams that are chasing the lone playoff spot along with San Diego. But the Chiefs have earned the right to do whatever is best for their team. Can you imagine the outrage if Jamaal Charles sprained his ankle in the second quarter Sunday with the Chiefs down 21 and headed for a loss? Or if Alex Smith, on a last-second Hail Mary at the end of the first half, took a hit to the ribs that would knock him out for next week?
While grisly thoughts, they could happen. But I don’t think Reid will take the chance.
This is a good time for him to take a long look at backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who signed a hefty contract to carry a clipboard. He hasn’t exactly inspired the fan base in his limited snaps, nor did he show much in the preseason other than to conjure up memories of Brady Quinn.
I’d also like to see the Chiefs give Knile Davis a full game at running back. Forget his fumble last week that was a harbinger of things to come in the desultory snoozer against the Colts. He has exciting potential and the Chiefs need to see what he can do for four quarters, with a little Cyrus Gray thrown in for good measure.
Offensive linemen usually toil throughout and there aren’t that many backups anyway. Branden Albert should be held out so he can be 100 percent next week. It doesn’t matter for the receiving corps, because none of them have done anything to distinguish themselves anyway.
On defense, the Chiefs have a lot of capable defensive linemen and linebackers, so backups could log a lot of minutes. It doesn’t matter in the secondary, because other than Eric Berry the Chiefs have nobody who can cover or wrap up.
Even with their starters, this was a game I didn’t figure the Chiefs winning anyway. They couldn’t beat the Chargers at home and I can’t see them winning on the road, though they actually have a better road record (6-1) than home record (5-3).
• WHO IS THE TEAM TO BEAT? — While the final playoff picture hasn’t been painted, I think we all know there are about three or four teams that can be considered true contenders for the Super Bowl.
In the NFC, the feeling is it’s the Seattle Seahawks’ spot to lose. The Seahawks have lost at home only once in the last two years, have a heat-seeking missile mentality on defense and quarterback Russell Wilson doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.
Nobody from the NFC East or NFC North can be taken seriously. Each of those two divisions will qualify a champion, though both could have seven losses.
Carolina is in as the NFC South champion, so basically we’re left with New Orleans and Arizona. The Saints host Tampa Bay, so they should get in. Arizona is home to San Francisco, which is still fighting with Seattle for the NFC West title. If the 49ers win and Seattle loses at home to St. Louis, the 49ers would be the No. 1 overall seed. For those who need a refresher, San Francisco was my pick to win it all at the start of the season.
In the AFC, five of the six spots are determined, as all four divisions have been wrapped up, as well as the top wild card. New England, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Denver are the division winners, Kansas City is the fifth seed and four teams are battling for one spot — Miami, Baltimore, San Diego and Pittsburgh. None of the wild-card teams figure to make any noise, with Denver and New England clearly the top two in my opinion.
I had New England making the Super Bowl before the season, but the road to the AFC title goes through Denver.