Seattle tops poll; Chiefs near the middle

By Steve Sell
July 23, 2014

Wednesday’s ramblings...

• SEAHAWKS TABBED NO. 1 — The AP PRO32 NFL preseason football rankings came out Tuesday and not surprisingly defending Super Bowl champion Seattle was the overwhelming favorite to repeat. The Seahawks finished last year as dominant as any team there’s been in the NFL in a long time.

This is a power poll, however, and the No. 2 team happens to reside in the Seahawks’ own division, the San Francisco 49ers.

AFC teams Denver and New England were picked third and fourth, respectively, while the Green Bay Packers rounded out the Top 5.

The Kansas City Chiefs, who made the playoffs last year after being football’s worst team the year before, are just above the median as they’re ranked 14th out of 32 teams.

The Chiefs won their first nine games last year before fading down the stretch, losing five of their last seven games, then historically blew a 28-point lead on the road to Indianapolis in the first round of the playoffs.

On paper, the Chiefs appear to be a weaker team as they took some free-agency hits and their incoming newcomers appear to be nondescript. Toss in the fact the schedule is going to be much tougher (the AFC West has to play the NFC West, arguably football’s best division) and approaching 11 wins in the regular season this year is the longest of long shots.

The draft didn’t bring a whole lot, mainly depth and backups. There’s not an impact player among the bunch, including first-round pick Dee Ford of Auburn, who is a player without a set position as there are doubts he can play defensive end and doesn’t have the speed to play outside linebacker.

Maybe the most interesting nugget of the poll was the Dallas Cowboys clear down at No. 23. Once famously known as “America’s Team,” the Cowboys are just a shell of their former selves. The NFL needs for Dallas to be good, much like the NBA needs the Boston Celtics to be good and the New York Yankees to be good in baseball. The mighty have fallen and they can’t seem to get up.

• CHARLES WANTS MORE MONEY — By NFL standards, the Chiefs have gotten a bargain with Jamaal Charles during his career.

Without Charles, the Chiefs might be the No. 32 team in that poll just mentioned above. There is no player in the NFL who means more to his team on the offensive side than Charles, who IS the Chiefs offense.

According to reports, Charles is only the third-highest paid starter on offense. That Dewayne Bowe makes more than three times what Charles makes is criminal. And you never hear of Charles causing off-the-field problems or being a distraction. He brings his lunch pail to work every day and goes about his business.

Charles’ problem is he’s entering that gray area of his career. He’s 27 years old and a shelf life of an NFL running back is shorter than any other position on the field, especially for one who touches the ball as much as Charles. I’m sure he expects to be paid Adrian Peterson-type money, but can the Chiefs really afford him? He’s under contract for this year and next, by which time his body could be so battered that his production could start to fall rapidly. Remember, too, he’s smaller than the typical back. Look for the Chiefs to give second-year back Knile Davis many more carries this season and develop another back.

Charles is grossly underpaid, but I hope this doesn’t turn into a distraction like the situations of Alex Smith and Justin Houston, two other KC players who want new deals and much has been made about them already.

• ROYALS REBOUND — Maybe it was the “players-only” meeting earlier in the day. Or maybe it was the blind squirrel theory.

Whatever it was, the slumbering bats of the Kansas City Royals came alive Tuesday in a 7-1 rout of division rival Chicago, spurred on by a 14-hit attack.

And it could have been much worse. The Royals left an unsightly 14 runners on base as they failed time and again with runners in scoring position. This could have been a merry-go-round of epic proportions.

Maybe the players saw that General Manager Dayton Moore was in attendance and if they want to earn more money or keep their jobs, they had better start to perform. Moore also announced he was giving manager Ned Yost the dreaded “vote of confidence,” which more often than not becomes a curse.

Even the much-criticized Mike Moustakas came alive, roping a pair of home runs as he teased fans with his power potential.

The teams are playing again this afternoon and a Royals win would give them a 50-50 record at the 100-game mark. That’s not bad when you consider this offense has been among the worst in baseball, but it’s still a bit of an underachievement when you consider how the team finished last year and its core of young players is entering the prime of their careers.