Chiefs’ playoff woes continue as Ravens advance to Pittsburgh

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel (R) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Kelly Gregg during the second half of their AFC Wild Card NFL playoff football game in Kansas City, Missouri January 9, 2011. REUTERS/Dave Kaup (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Here are six quick-hit observations from the Ravens’ 30-7 trouncing of the Chiefs in Sunday’s Wildcard Round.

1. Baltimore’s defense once again comes to play.
What’s the quickest way to quiet a hostile crowd? How about giving them nothing to celebrate. Outside of Jamaal Charles’ 41-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, the Chiefs could do nothing offensively. The talk coming into this game was how KC could take advantage of Baltimore’s secondary but all the Ravens did was shut down the Chiefs’ vertical passing game (did anyone tell Dwayne Bowe what time the game started?) and force five turnovers. Matt Cassel’s protection wasn’t great but it’s not like he had anywhere to go with the ball either. Every time he looked downfield, a Baltimore defender was blanketing one of his outside receivers. How dominant was the Ravens defense on Sunday? They held the Chiefs to eight first downs and only 53 yards passing. Unreal.

Bonus observations:

– What a hit by Ed Reed on Dexter McCluster in the second quarter to force a punt after the Chiefs had reached midfield. That hurt me on my couch.

– The Ravens’ defenders have to stop trying to lateral the ball back to teammates after interceptions. I know sometimes they wind up getting more yards and it makes for a nice highlight, but Haruki Nakamura almost cost his team points by foolishly trying to flip the ball back to a teammate after a pick on the first drive of the second half. Talk about a momentum killer.

2. This loss isn’t on the Chiefs’ defense.
Kansas City may have given up 30 points but it’s hard for a defense to stop any offense when it’s on the field for the entire game. By the time the Ravens put together that 10-minute scoring drive in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs’ defense was gassed. KC’s offense couldn’t sustain drives and even worse, they turned the ball over five times. In the second quarter, the Chiefs did a nice job by forcing a three-and-out following a turnover. In the first half, they also did well taking away the Ravens’ vertical passing game because Joe Flacco really didn’t have anyone to throw to down field. But as the game wore on and as they got more tired, the Ravens were able to methodically drive up the field and take time off the clock. Romeo Crennel’s unit did all it could but in the end, it needed more help from Charlie Weis’ offense.

3. Speaking of which…Weis’ announcement hurt the Chiefs offensively.
In two games since news broke that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was leaving Kansas City for the same position at the University of Florida, the Chiefs scored a total of 17 points in back-to-back home losses. Even though Todd Haley and the players said otherwise, the news proved to be a distraction. It had to be. No matter if your team won the Super Bowl or lost in the first round, your playcaller was gone. All the credit in the world goes to the Ravens for completely taking away the Chiefs’ vertical passing game and forcing five turnovers. But it makes you wonder whether or not Kansas City’s offense would have had more success had everything been status quo with their offense heading into the playoffs. Obviously Weis isn’t the reason the Chiefs lost, but his offense certainly didn’t help their cause.

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Can Stallworth make an impact for the Ravens?

Desperate to give quarterback Joe Flacco more weapons in the passing game, the Ravens signed receiver Donte’ Stallworth to a one-year, $900,000 contract. The deal also includes $300,000 in playing time incentives, according to

Baltimore is obviously hurting at receiver. Two of the Ravens’ top three leaders in receptions last year were Ray Rice and Todd Heap. Kelley Washington and Mark Clayton finished with only 34 receptions last year and neither receiver cracked the 500-yard mark. In his seven-year career, Stallworth has averaged over 42 receptions a season, which would have placed him second in that category last year behind Derrick Mason among Baltimore receivers.

That said, Stallworth didn’t play a down last year after being suspended for striking and killing a pedestrian with his car in Miami. Plus, the last time he was even semi-productive was three years ago in New England when he caught 46 passes for 697 yards and three touchdowns. He caught just 17 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown in 11 games with Cleveland in 2008.

Stallworth probably won’t make much of an impact in Baltimore this year and chances are the team isn’t done trying to upgrade the position either. But at the very least, it’s hard not to like this signing more than the Bengals’ decision to ink Matt Jones earlier this week. At least Stallworth still has something that resembles speed.

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Start, Bench or Cut: Is it time to part ways with these guys?

Now that we’re a quarter the way through the fantasy football season, some owners are wondering if it’s time to start benching their early round picks or if it’s appropriate to cut bait on a disappointing middle-round pick. Here is a list of 20 disappointing fantasy players, along with my take on their prospects over the next four games.

I’ve included the player’s Antsports ADP in parenthesis (for the month of August) along with their drafted and current rankings within their position.

1. Randy Moss (1.08)
Drafted: WR1
Currently: WR43

There’s no doubt that the loss of Tom Brady for the season has had a significant impact on Moss’ performance and prospects. He was a stud, but now there are owners who are (justifiably) starting to bench him for better options. He is averaging three catches for 24 yards and zero TD in the two games that Matt Cassel has started. The upcoming schedule (SF, SD, DEN and STL) looks pretty good from a matchup standpoint, and it seems like the bye week would be a good opportunity for Bill Belichick and Co. to figure out a way to use their most dynamic weapon. Unless you have a clearly better option, Moss is still worth starting.

2. Braylon Edwards (2.05)
Drafted: WR4
Currently: WR57

Edwards has looked out of it from the start, dropping a few balls against the Cowboys in Week 1. Through four games, he’s averaging 2.8 catches for 24 yards and 0.3 TD. He did catch a TD in Week 4 and his schedule gets a little easier over the next two weeks with the Giants and the Redskins, two teams that have allowed plenty of fantasy points to wideouts this season. Like Moss, unless you have a clearly better option, Edwards is still worth the start, though he’s on bye this week.

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Fantasy Fallout, Week 4: Monday Night Football

Ravens 20 @ Steelers 23
Ben Roethlisberger (191 yards, TD, INT) didn’t finish with great stats, but he played pretty well against a tough Ravens defense and his numbers would have been better had his receivers not dropped the ball a couple of times…Santanio Holmes (3-61-1) had a nice game which included a wonderful 38-yard catch and run for a score…Hines Ward (2-57) was rather quiet but almost scored on a 49-yard pass where he just needed to make one Baltimore defender miss to hit paydirt…Heath Miller (2-8) was a disappointment…Rashard Mendenhall (10 touches, 36 yards) left the game with an injury…Willis McGahee (16 touches, 51 yards) looked pretty good until he left the field gingerly with what looked like a painful chest injury. He returned for a single carry, but didn’t play after that…Le’Ron McClain (19 touches, 89 yards, TD) took over and looked strong, especially on his 2-yard TD run. He should be picked up in all leagues; he’s clearly the RB2 in Baltimore, not Ray Rice…Joe Flacco (192 yards, TD) looked pretty sharp all night, connecting with Derrick Mason (8-137) numerous times…Neither Mark Clayton nor Todd Heap caught a pass. Heap has been a huge disappointment this season and I can only assume that he slept with Flacco’s girlfriend…Both defenses looked strong and should be owned in all leagues.

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