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Arrowhead Report: Pro Bowl Reactions and Week 17 Rumblings

Posted Dec 29, 2010

Chiefs first-timers react to Pro Bowl invites, Cassel won't cry snub and notes as Raider Week continues

Todd Haley has declared the Chiefs approach for this Sunday’s rematch against Oakland. Simply put, the Chiefs will “play to win” despite already clinching the AFC West Championship.

The AFC’s third seed is still up for grabs, but clinching a higher playoff position isn’t the only source of motivation for Haley heading into the regular season finale.

“Like I said, the stage we’re in for this team, we’re still in the developing foundation-laying period for this team,” Haley reiterated on Wednesday. “There are some teams that can think like that, I don’t think we’re one of those teams, I know we’re not.”

But what Haley had yet to say leading into Wednesday was whether or not his starters would play Sunday’s game in its entirety. He hinted at playing KC’s regulars, but when asked directly, Haley left the door open on his handling of personnel.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Haley said of his substitution plan on Monday. “We’re going to do what we think gives us the best chance to win. That’s where I’ll leave at for now.”

Wednesday, Haley clarified the Chiefs personnel approach for Week 17 a more concrete statement. Sunday’s personnel script will mirror that of Kansas City’s previous games this season. Nothing more. Nothing less. The starters will start and the game will then dictate who is playing at the end.

 “We’ve gone through the whole year and we’ve had some games where we’ve had the game in hand and there have been games where we have got (substitutes) in there, but (the approach) won’t change,” Haley said.

Inside the locker room, many of Kansas City’s regulars are preparing for a similar workload this weekend as well.

“We are going out there to win this game,” RB Jamaal Charles said. “I might play a lot this week and I’m still trying to get the rushing title.”

Charles sits just 56 yards behind Houston’s Arian Foster for league’s rushing title. The last Chief to win the NFL rushing crown was Priest Holmes in 2001 (1,555 yards).

Bowe/Charles React to First Pro Bowl Invites

In the midst of earning his first trip to Hawaii, Jamaal Charles was talking team. Charles credited the influence of veteran RB Thomas Jones and what he believes to be a highly underrated offensive line as key factors in receiving his initial All-Star honor.

“You never know how it’s going to play out, whether you are popular or if you’ve been there before,” Charles said of the Pro Bowl nod. “I’m happy enough to be going to the playoffs. The Pro Bowl is a good individual award, but I want to go to the Super Bowl and keep pushing our team goals this year.”

Joining Charles on the flight to Hawaii will be fellow Pro Bowl first-timer Dwayne Bowe.

Bowe’s ride through 2010 has been filled with numerous ups and downs. Many questioned his future in Kansas City after two critical drops in a tight Week 5 loss at Indianapolis. After playing in four games this season, Bowe had totaled just 9 catches for 152 yards and a TD. In the 11 games since, Bowe’s line reads 58-942, 14 TDs.

Following that loss in Indianapolis, Bowe began a torrid streak of seven-straight games with a TD catch to set a franchise record. Once that record was broken in Denver (12/5), Bowe recorded just 3 catches for 56 yards over the next three games. He then rebounded once again on Sunday with a 6-catch, 153-yard performance with a TD.

“I still don’t think that it’s hit me yet,” Bowe said. “Everyone has been patting me on the back, but I figure if we go deep in the playoffs it will finally hit me. Right now, I’m just focused on getting to the next game and keeping on winning to get to the next. I’m happy for my family, but it’s like we’re so close to the ultimate goal that I’m not really looking at (the Pro Bowl) just yet.”

Through Bowe’s career season, he’s clearly shown the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity. He was named to the AFC’s Pro Bowl roster on Tuesday evening and was then named AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

“There’s not a guy more deserving than Dwayne Bowe to be in the Pro Bowl this year with the year that he’s had and the great catches he’s made, and the tremendous impact that he’s had for our offense.,” QB Matt Cassel said. “Not to mention just him, but the other two guys, it’s a great accomplishment not only for those guys, but for this team in general.”

Charles and Bowe pair to form just the third same-season 1,000-yard RB/WR tandem in team history.

Look for more from Bowe Thursday morning on KCChiefs.com

No Tears From Cassel

Matt Cassel’s TD/INT differential (27/5) ranks second only to New England’s Tom Brady. Those five INTs are also the second least thrown by any QB in the league as well.  Cassel’s 98.8 passer rating ranks third in the AFC and his 27 TD passes are good for the fourth-most in the conference. He also set a Chiefs record earlier this season by delivering 162 straight passes without an INT.

For now, at least, those numbers aren’t Pro Bowl worthy. Brady, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers currently make up the AFC’s All-Star QB squad, causing many Chiefs fans to cry “snub” on Cassel’s behalf.

Regardless, Cassel is refuses to complain about being left off the initial AFC Pro Bowl roster.

“I know that there is a lot of great quarterback in the NFL and in the AFC,” said Cassel. “For me, I’m just happy that our team is where they are and team goals come way before personal accomplishments. I think that our accomplishments made as a team this year go way beyond anything that anyone could ever give me in terms of a personal accolade.”

Raiders Potential Rarity

Remember a few weeks back when we took a look at two potential playoff firsts that might be in the making? The 2010 NFL Playoffs has the chance to not only host the first-ever 7-9 division champion, but also see a team miss the postseason with an undefeated division record.

Seattle can become the first 7-9 division champion with a win over St. Louis on Sunday night, while an Oakland win at Arrowhead pushes the Raiders AFC West record to a perfect 6-0. The 7-8 Raiders were eliminated from playoff contention following Kansas City’s 34-14 win over Tennessee last Sunday.

“Going to the playoffs is going to the playoffs and the fact that we’re not doing that disappoints you,” Raiders head coach Tom Cable said via conference call. “We have to do a better job of playing outside the division. That’s what it comes down to.

“Kansas City was able to play well in the division and then outside of the division as well,” Cable continued. “That’s why they have won the AFC West.”

With the emphasis placed on division games across the league, it’s still bizarre to think that a division champion could finish 2-4 while a potential third-place finisher would wind up 6-0. For the Raiders, a 6-0 division finish would have to feel like a season of missed opportunities, particularly with a blown second half lead in Jacksonville and a missed field goal at Arizona that highlight a string of close losses.

“In the process of turning things around, you have to win games in your own division first,” Cable said. “As you’re getting better, that’s one of the keys to becoming a playoff team. Next year, it’s going to be about winning each game every time out.”

Cable went on to say that the Raiders motivation this week rests in the team finishing 8-8 and carrying that as a springboard into the offseason. Finishing at .500 would break a string of seven straight losing seasons.

There’s something to be said for heading into the offseason with a positive Week 17 performance. Just look at how the 2009 Chiefs wrapped things up.

Injury Report

DB Donald Washington (ankle) was the lone player to miss practice on Wednesday. He missed all three practices last week and was put on the inactive list for Sunday’s game against Tennessee.

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