By Steven St. John
1) The Chiefs have whittled their active roster down to 53 players and there were only a few surprises as they made their final decisions. I mentioned last week that Zach Fulton had played well at center against the Rams and it might have cost Eric Kush his roster spot. And, that’s exactly what happened. Still, it was kinda crazy to see the guy that started training camp on top of the depth chart, end up not even making the team. However, the biggest shock was the release of defensive lineman Mike Catapano. After the cuts were made, Andy Reid mentioned to the media that Catapano would be a better fit in a 4-3 defense. That may be true, but it was still a surprise to see Catapano cut since he had such a good camp. It’s clear that some other teams thought highly of the two former Chiefs as Kush was immediately claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay and Catapano signed with the New York Jets.
2) If the Chiefs get an early lead against the Texans on Sunday, it will be very hard for Kansas City to lose the game. The Texans are built to run the ball and play defense. With Brian Hoyer at QB and a WR group learning to live without Andre Johnson, the Texans will have a tough time playing catch-up against anyone, much less a team like the Chiefs that can put tremendous pressure on the QB in obvious passing situations. Add in the fact that Arian Foster is hurt and you’ve got a recipe for an offensive disaster for the Texans. Get an early lead, feed Jamaal Charles, get some chunks of yardage with Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce, DO NOT turn the ball over, contain J.J. Watt (LOL!) and let the defense take you home. Chiefs win, 24-14.
3) The Drew Lock hype-train gained more steam with the freshman’s debut performance for Mizzou against SEMO last Saturday. Lock went 6/10 for 138 yards and a touchdown pass while Maty Mauk went 12/22 for 181 yards, 2 TD’s and 1 interception. This is still Mauk’s team, but Lock looked good. REALLY good. It’s a nice problem to have, but if this trend continues, Gary Pinkel finally just might have a real QB controversy on his hands. Mizzou plays at Arkansas St. this Saturday night.
1) During the broadcast of the final Chiefs preseason game, GM John Dorsey said that 4 or 5 spots are still up for grabs on the 53 man roster. It will be interesting to see how that plays out as the final decisions are made. Did Zach Fulton show enough while playing center to make Eric Kush’s roster spot vulnerable? If the Chiefs only keep 6 WR’s, who gets the final spot…the dependable Frankie Hammond or preseason star Fred Williams? Is Demetrius Harris healthy enough to be counted upon as the third tight end to start the season? Obviously, the health of Jeff Allen, Eric Fisher and Dontari Poe will have an impact on these decisions and how the Chiefs move forward in constructing the roster. And, remember, there is always a chance the Chiefs could make waiver claims based on cuts from around the league, so the final 53 may not be final for long. Dorsey has had success on the waiver wire before and he won’t hesitate to claim a player he believes can provide an upgrade to the roster.
2) Despite Mizzou’s lackluster opposition (SEMO) in the season opener, there will still be some intriguing things to watch during the first game of the season. The Tigers need to indentify playmakers in the passing game for Maty Mauk to trust and the list of WR candidates is long, but inexperienced. Nate Brown, J’Mon Moore, Keyon Dilosa, DeSean Blair, Emanuel Hall, Thomas Richard, Wesley Leftwich(injured). Lots of talent, but almost zero experience. The tight ends should be more of a factor this season, but Mizzou will need a few of these WR’s to blossom quickly or Mauk could struggle.
3) Another important thing to watch for during Mizzou’s first game of 2015 will be the debut of highly-touted freshman QB Drew Lock. Following in the footsteps of Chase Daniel, Blaine Gabbert, James Franklin and Mauk, Lock will serve as a back-up during his true freshman year as opposed to redshirting. There will only be so much fans can take away from the limited snaps Lock is expected to take, but the decision to burn his redshirt and elevate him above two older, talented QB’s (Eddie Printz and Marvin Zanders) on the depth chart suggests Gary Pinkel believes Lock could be something special. Now, it’s up to Lock to live up to all the hype.
Finally. Floyd Mayweather is fighting Manny Pacquiao on May 2 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand. At times, it seemed like this super-fight would never happen. There were so many obstacles that were preventing the fight from taking place. How would the money be split? What network would broadcast the fight? Would there be drug-testing and how would it be administered? There were too many questions and not enough answers. But, now, the questions have all been answered except for one…Who will win?
I think Pacquiao has a better chance to the win the fight than most people realize. I believe it’s a 60/40 fight in Mayweather’s favor. Styles make fights and I think Pacquiao’s style will give Mayweather some problems that he hasn’t seen before.
There are many boxing fans that are still angry about the lengthy wait we’ve all endured to see this fight actually become reality. Both fighters were better and faster five years ago, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the fight would have been better at that time. Five years ago, I think Mayweather wins a decision in a dominating, but boring performance. His speed and defense would have been too much for Pacquiao to overcome and Mayweather would have been able to coast to a decision victory without having to risk standing and trading with Pacquiao.
I think the 2015 version of this fight will be more entertaining because Mayweather has slowed down just enough to force him into more exchanges with the relentless . When you consider Mayweather’s performances against Miguel and Marcos , it’s apparent that he gets hit with punches now that wouldn’t have touched him earlier in his career. In fact, the right hand that hit Mayweather with at the end of the 3 round of their rematch was the hardest punch that’s landed on Mayweather since Shane Mosley rocked him in 2010. If would have landed that punch in the middle of the round, I think Mayweather could have been in real trouble. If lands that punch, it could end the fight.
Both fighters are a step slower and now get hit with more punches, but I think that means we’ll get a better product after what seemed like an eternal wait for the fight to actually happen. I will still pick Mayweather to win, but I think it will be an exciting and competitive fight and Pacquiao will have a legitimate chance to win. However, opinions no longer matter. All of the debates are over. That’s the great thing for fight fans. We will finally see this dispute settled the way it should be…in the ring. May 2 can’t get here soon enough.
By Steven St. John
· The Tom Brady/Peyton Manning debate is now officially over. Done. Dead. Buried. I’ve always believed that Brady was better than Manning and now my belief is fact. Brady went 13/15 for 124 yards and 2 TD’s in the 4th quarter of Super Bowl 49 to erase a 10 point deficit against the undisputed best defense in the NFL, erasing all doubts and arguments emanating from the pro-Manning contingent. Yes…the same Seahawks defense that made Manning look foolish in Super Bowl 48. Anyone who still thinks Manning is better than Brady is either completely misguided or unwilling to get past their hatred for Brady or the Patriots to admit the truth. But, most importantly, they are wrong. The debate is no longer Brady vs. Manning. What’s now left to determine is whether Brady is the greatest quarterback in NFL history. One more Super Bowl season and that question will be answered, too.
· There were lots of excited boxing fans watching the Super Bowl 49, hoping that the wild rumors of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao officially announcing their mega-fight during the game would be true. They were not. However, I do believe that the fight will still happen this year. It doesn’t really matter if it happens on May 2nd or in September. All that matters is that it finally happens. It almost reminds me of the waiting and the build-up leading up to the super-fight between Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard back in 1987. After what felt like an eternity for boxing fans, the fight finally happened and it was glorious. Except for the fact that Hagler deserved to win the decision 115-113. If Floyd fights Manny, everyone will watch, hundreds of millions will be made and it will be one of the biggest sporting spectacles in history.
· Not only was Super Bowl 49 one of the top 5 Super Bowls in history, the halftime show was also one of the top 5 I’ve ever seen. Katy Perry is a phenomenal performer and she lived up to all of my expectations. Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot were both very good, but Katy stole the show and my heart. I truly love her. As I’m writing this, I am now painfully aware that I have some serious issues and I need to stop typing immediately.
By Steven St. John
It’s such a great time to be a sports fan in Kansas City right now. From the World Series to the Chiefs in first place, the last couple of months have been a wild roller coaster ride that we won’t soon forget.
By Steven St. John
What Chiefs players are you most excited to watch this season? Yes, the pre-season was ugly, but hope still remains that Kansas City can figure things out in time for the regular season. So, here’s my list of the top 10 Chiefs players that I’m most excited to watch in 2014.
1) Jamaal Charles – JC is the best running back in football and he’s an absolute joy to watch on the field. The sky is the limit for #25 in Andy Reid’s offense and I can’t wait to watch how Big Red will use him in their second season together.
2) Travis Kelce – Kelce looked fantastic during the preseason, giving the Chiefs a game-breaking threat at the tight end position. If Kelce can stay healthy, he will provide Alex Smith with a huge target over the middle and in the red zone that the Chiefs were missing last season.
3) De’Anthony Thomas – How will Reid utilize the tantalizing skills that DAT offers? I’m sure that DAT will have an impact on special teams, but how many touches will he get from scrimmage? He might get fewer touches than Dexter McCluster did last year, but I think he will do more damage with his opportunities than Dex ever did.
4) Justin Houston – There are still some doubters out there that question whether Houston is an elite pass rusher. I think he is. It will be interesting to watch how Houston responds to not getting a new contract. Will it bother him? Or, will it drive him to have his best season, yet?
5) Alex Smith – Smith did get his fat new contract and now all the questions have been answered. This is Alex Smith’s team and he needs to show the Chiefs fan base that Reid and John Dorsey did not make a mistake by signing him to an extension. Smith got the money, so there are no more excuses. Play like a top 10 quarterback, lead this team back to the playoffs and win a playoff game. Because, that’s what franchise quarterbacks are supposed to do.
6) Dontari Poe – If the Chiefs defensive front seven is to play well enough to overcome a shaky secondary, Poe must be the anchor. The big man in the middle led all defensive tackles in snaps last season with over 1,000. I repeat…over 1,000! He should have more help in the defensive line rotation this season, so maybe that can help Bob Sutton can keep Poe fresher down the stretch.
7) Eric Berry – The secondary looked awful without Berry in the preseason. The secondary also looked awful with Berry during the second half of last season. Berry is one of the highest paid safeties in the NFL and he must play like it. He has to single-handedly make the secondary better. He needs to be a playmaker. Oh, and please stay healthy…Thanks.
8) Dwayne Bowe – Bowe wasn’t very good last season until the playoff loss against the Colts. Is that playoff performance more of an indication of what the Smith-to-Bowe connection is capable of in this offense or will we see more inconsistencies from #82? We won’t see anything from Bowe in week one against the Titans because he’s suspended, so he’ll have 15 games to prove to this team and this city that he can be Smith’s go-to man in this offense.
9) Dee Ford – The Chiefs could have picked a wide receiver or a cornerback in the first round of the 2014 draft and many fans would have been pleased. Instead, they selected Ford and many fans were perplexed. Ford didn’t do much in the preseason, so all eyes will be on the Auburn product once the games start to count. If nothing else, it should be entertaining to watch how Sutton chooses to utilize Ford, Houston and Tamba Hali when they’re on the field at the same time.
10) Albert Wilson – He was my favorite player to watch in training camp and the Chiefs could certainly use some speed and big-play ability from their wide receivers. He may be a boom and he might be a bust, but this kid was electric in St. Joseph. Hopefully, some of those skills he displayed in camp will translate to the field on Sundays.