Judgements: It’s time to wake up to surging Chiefs


judgements slider

Yes, Kansas City’s legit. The Chiefs remind me a little of last year’s Seahawks — good defense, sound running game, a quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes — plus a hot streak and a stadium where it destroyed New England and just beat the defending Super Bowl champions. If there’s a difference it’s this: Wide receivers. The Seahawks didn’t have a stellar cast, but they did know where the end zone was. The Chiefs’ wideouts don’t, and as they navigate a six-week stretch with four opponents with winning records (including Denver and Arizona) the pressure will be on Jamaal Charles to carry this offense as Marshawn Lynch carried Seattle.

2. The New England Patrios average 40.5 points per over their last six games — all wins — but it’s not their 42-point effort vs. Indianapolis that was so impressive;  it was the way it was accomplished — with an overwhelming running game and lock-down defense. Throw in Tom Brady, the Patriots’ history in November and December, and … ladies and gentlemen, you have this week’s NFL team to beat.

3. Who’s got it better than Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers? Answer: Arizona. The Cards are three games up on the rest of the division with six left.

4. OK, so Drew Stanton must clean up those interceptions, but here’s why you gotta love Arizona: Defense. The Cards held all but one of their opponents this season — including its last six — to 20 points and under. Remember what Seattle had to remind us last season: Defense wins championships.

5. Now we find out about Detroit. Next up is New England … in Foxboro.

6. Make that the second straight week Green Bay produced 50 or more points, and it’s the third time it’s happened in the last three years. Great, huh? Maybe not. Neither of the two previous teams who got there, Denver (in 2013) or Seattle (in 2012), won a Super Bowl that season.

7. For the record, that’s one touchdown and 478 yards for the Chargers in their last eight quarters … and 24 possessions. With the Rams up next, the Bolts may need a divining rod to find the end zone.

8. St. Louis may be 4-6, but the Rams are 2-0 vs. last season’s Super Bowl competitors.

9. Houston wasn’t the only winner with Ryan Mallett at quarterback. So was New England. If Mallett takes 40 percent of the snaps this season — and his chances just improved — the Patriots gain a sixth-round pick for Mallet, not a seventh.

10. Plenty of good seats available at MetLife Stadium for December.

11. Memo to the next team going into Lambeau: Cover Jordy Nelson deep. The guy has five catches of 50 or more yards this season … all at Lambeau.

12. Here’s the scary news about the NFC South: No matter who wins (Atlanta or New Orleans at 4-6 or Carolina at 3-7-1), one of these teams hosts a playoff game.

13. Tough day for the Manning family. Eli and Peyton were a combined 56 for 104 (53.8 percent) for 669 yards, with two touchdowns, seven interceptions and a passer rating of 52.1. Oh, yeah, the most important stat: They were 0-2.

14. That’s just a reminder that while Philadelphia is fun to watch, the Eagles aren’t ready to go deep in the playoffs … and, please, don’t tell me Sunday’s blowout was Mark Sanchez’s fault. He wasn’t responsible for those gaping holes in the Eagles’ defense, and he didn’t play on punt coverage.

15. Q: If we can land a spacecraft on a comet, how come we can’t put a football team in L.A.?

16. Indianapolis better hope it doesn’t meet New England in January. It doesn’t matter where these two play; the Patriots win.

17. Johnny Manziel, start warming up.

18. The Giants didn’t call a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 because they don’t have it in their playbook. Well, they should.

19. FYI: Teams (Houston, Oakland) that have had Matt Schaub on their roster are 0-24 over their last 24 games.

20. I know Norv Turner doesn’t want to hear it but … any chance we can put out an APB on Cordarrelle Patterson?

FIVE HALL-OF-FAME SIZZLES

1. Houston RB Alfred Blue. He’s the first Houston rookie to run for 100 yards since Arian Foster … and he started only because Foster was down. So he didn’t score. He carried 36 times and cranked out 156 yards — or nearly three times Cleveland’s total. Incidentally, that 156 ties the franchise record for most yards rushing by a Texans’ rookie.

2. St. Louis PK Greg Zuerlein. He hits five field goals, including a 55-yarder, to lead the Rams to a shocker over Denver. Now you know why they call him the Greatest Toe on Turf.

3. Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans. There’s a mother lode of terrific rookie wideouts in this year’s league, but none is hotter than this guy — with Evans producing 21 catches for 458 yards (including a career-high 209 Sunday) and five TDs in his last three games.

4. New England CB Darrelle Revis. The Patriots acquired him to shore up a leaky pass defense, and that’s exactly what he did Sunday — all but shutting down Reggie Wayne and leading New England to another decisive victory. I can’t remember hearing Wayne’s name mentioned much … if at all … in the second half, other than NBC pumping Revis for making him a non-factor.

5. St. Louis defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Yes, that Gregg Williams. He’s the genius who called the defenses that flummoxed Peyton Manning. I don’t care that Manning threw for 389 yards. He had two interceptions and one touchdown and was held to his lowest score and third-lowest passer rating since joining Denver.

FIVE HALL-OF-FAME FIZZLES

1. N.Y.Giants QB Eli Manning. He had six interceptions prior to Sunday. He had five vs. the 49ers, the sixth time in his career he’s had four or more in one game. No other quarterback has that many four-interception games since Manning joined the league in 2004. Oh, and remind me to take the opponent next time he plays the NFC West. In his last three games against the division he has 2 TDs and 11 interceptions.

2. Carolina PK Graham Gano. He picked a rotten time to miss his second career kick at home, a 42-yarder that sailed wide left. It could’ve won the game … but, of course, it didn’t. Yeah, I know, he had a chance to win at the end, but that was a 63-yarder that never had a chance.

3. Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck. I admire him, too, but the numbers don’t lie. He’s 0-3 vs. Tom Brady, with eight interceptions and losses in Foxboro and Indianapolis. Luck and the Colts were supposed to prove Sunday that they belonged … and they did. They proved they belong behind New England.

4. Soldier Field’s game clock. Maybe this is why the Bears have so much trouble winning at home. Nobody knows the time. The game clock was off and on during Sunday’s game, and was off the last 2:54 — or just before the Vikings started their last offensive series. Hmmmmm. The stadium GM had no explanation for the malfunction, but Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer did when he described it as … well, something you wouldn’t want to step in.

5. Detroit QB Matt Stafford. Not only does he fail to throw a touchdown pass; he’s held to his fewest passing yards (183 yards) of the season.

WHAT WOULD LOMBARDI DO?

It’s first-and-goal at the San Francisco 4. You’re down by 6, and it’s getting late. You have Eli Manning at quarterback, but he’s thrown four interceptions. You also have Rashad Jennings back at running back for the first time in six weeks. So W.W. L.D.? Well, hammer the San Francisco defense at least once … maybe twice … with your running game. The Giants did not. They threw four straight times, including three fades that, well, faded away. “Inexcusable,” said losing coach Tom Coughlin. That’s a big 10-4. “In hindsight,”he added,  “we should have run the ball.” Right again. Ben McAdoo, please report to the principal’s office.

FIVE GUYS ON THE HALL-OF-FAME RADAR

1. Houston DE J.J. Watt — He sacks the quarterback. He forces a fumble. He recovers a fumble. He catches a touchdown pass. OK, so he committed two roughing-the-punt penalties … on the same drive. Nobody’s perfect. But this guy is close.

2.Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. That’s nine touchdowns and no interceptions the past two games, both blowouts, but it’s 29 straight TD passes with no picks in his last nine starts at Lambeau, too — all of them victories. As I’ve said, as long as this guy is standing everyone else in the NFC North plays for second.

3. Arizona CB Patrick Peterson. He covered Calvin Johnson, and while he didn’t shut him down he did neutralize him. Only five of 12 passes aimed at Megatron landed, for 59 yards and no scores. Score one for Peterson.

4. San Francisco LB Chris Borland. Time for him to collect his bonus. The 49ers’ rookie linebacker leads the team in tackles with four starts and one half vs. St. Louis and just produced a two-interception performance vs. the Giants, including his second game-clinching takeaway in two weeks.

5. Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton. I give up with this guy. One week after producing the worst passer rating of his career (2.0);the next, he produces the best (143.9).

THIS WEEK’S HALL-OF-FAME NOMINEE

New England RB Jonas Gray. Undrafted and unwanted, he goes to New England and puts up 199 yards and four TDs on a defense that this season hadn’t allowed more than 136 rushing yards by any team. But that’s not all. In one evening, he produced more yards than he had his entire career. Plus, he never let up — carrying 38 times. It’s tough enough to defend Brady and the Patriots’ passing attack. But now they add fresh legs behind an offensive line that’s vastly improved over the past two months? It’s downright unfair.

THIS WEEK’S HALL-OF-FAME QUOTE

“In order for us to start winning we have to stop losing.” — Oakland coach Tony Sparano.

WALL-OF-FAME NUMBERS

0-6 — Atlanta outside the NFC South

4 — Times Saints scored no more than three points in the first half in the Sean Payton era

5 — Straight games with a Jamaal Charles TD

6 — Peyton Manning interceptions the past three games

7 — Straight games with a Cam Newton interception, tied for most in team history

7 — Straight games for DeMaryius Thomas with 100 or more yards, a Denver record

322 — Consecutive passes by Aaron Rodgers at home without an interception

1948 — Last time a defensive lineman had four TDs in one year

1972 — Last time Philadelphia surrendered 53 points.

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