The Chiefs are 12th in this week’s rankings. They had climbed to No. 5 last week after winning five straight games.
The Chiefs deserved to drop after losing to the Raiders, who entered the game at 0-10. But seven spots are too many.
The Chiefs are ranked right in the middle, or fifth, among the NFL’s nine 7-4 teams. They recently beat one of them, the 7-4 Seattle Seahawks.
On the other hand, the Chiefs are a tough team to get a handle on. They easily beat New England, currently the No. 1-ranked team, early in the season. But they also have losses to Tennessee, No. 28, and Oakland, No. 31.
The Titans and Raiders have only one win against the rest of the league, that game being Tennessee’s victory over the No. 32 Jacksonville Jaguars.
"There are some similarities there," Avant said Tuesday. "But there are a lot of new things. I'm learning those things. I'd say about 65 or 70 percent I know and I'm refreshing and the other part I've got to learn."
His familiarity with Reid and his playbook is another reason the Chiefs need to get Avant on the field quickly. The Chiefs have already put one wide receiver, A.J. Jenkins, on the injured reserve list because of a season-ending shoulder injury. Another one of their receivers, Donnie Avery, hasn't played in two months after having surgery to repair a sports hernia.
Their main slot receiver, Junior Hemingway, left last week's game against Oakland because of a concussion. He will go through the protocol, making uncertain his status for Sunday night's game against the Denver Broncos.
It wouldn't be much of a surprise to see Avant show up in the slot against the Broncos. That's where he thrived while playing for Reid in Philadelphia.
"When you play there eight years, you definitely get comfortable with it," Avant said. "I'm pretty sure coach Reid is going to move me around as he sees fit for this team. Every team has different needs. Every team has different schemes and different thought processes. Whatever it is that he sees fit, I believe in what he's preaching. I believe in everything he's about so I trust him whatever that decision is."
Avant wanted to sign with the Chiefs when he was a free agent last spring, but then the Chiefs thought they were set with Jenkins, Avery and Hemingway to go along with Dwayne Bowe.
Bowe might be the only one of the bunch to play against the Broncos. That prompted last week's call to Avant, shortly after he was released by the Carolina Panthers.
"He looks at everybody as having an ability," Avant said of Reid. "Everyone has a strength and he's going to try to find that strength and use it to the best of their ability and also to the team's best interest.
"The Chiefs [were] always my No. 1 choice. Everything doesn't always work out the way you want it to work out. I was glad to come here on the second go-round. This is where I always wanted to be. I always wanted to play for coach Reid and [receivers coach David Culley] so this is a dream come true for me."
- Catches: 86, last in the NFL.
- Yards, 997, last in the NFL.
- Touchdowns 0, last in the NFL.
- Longest gain, 33 yards, last in the NFL.
- Targets, 141, last in the NFL.
- Percentage of dropped passes, 6.4, last in the NFL.
It's a mistake to consider Avant a savior. He won't be. His best season, from his younger days with the Philadelphia Eagles, had Avant catching 53 passes for 648 yards and zero touchdowns. That was in 2012, when he was 29. Avant has 13 career touchdowns in 127 games.
This season, in 11 games for the Carolina Panthers at age 31, Avant had 21 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown.
Still, the Chiefs are desperate for help at wide receiver. Dwayne Bowe, after a midseason surge, has slumped the past two games. Donnie Avery could conceivably play against Denver for the first time in two months, but in that case how much do the Chiefs have a right to expect from him?
Otherwise, the Chiefs are getting little in terms of catches and yardage from their wideouts. So get Avant in the lineup and let's see if he can make a difference.
All three passes went to tight ends, which highlights the problems at wide receiver. With the Kansas City Chiefs needing a touchdown on their final drive, Smith was just 1-of-4 on passes intended for wide receivers.
Smith averages 7.1 yards per pass attempt to a wide receiver this season. The league average is 8.0 yards. Meanwhile, Smith averages 7.0 yards per pass attempt to a tight end or back, which is slightly higher than the league average (6.9 yards).
The decision shouldn’t take long. Berry, who has what the Chiefs believe to be lymphoma, missed five games this season because of a high-ankle sprain.
The Chiefs not only survived but thrived without Berry. They went 4-1 in games without Berry and 3-3 when he is in the lineup.
Berry made the Pro Bowl in three of his first four NFL seasons, missing only in 2011 when he missed all but a handful of plays because of torn knee ligaments.
This has been perhaps his worst NFL season. He was bothered in the preseason with a heel injury and then had the high ankle sprain. Pro Football Focus has Berry with an overall negative grade for the first time in his career.
Moving Parker to safety will require some shuffling at cornerback, but the Chiefs have some options there. Jamell Fleming has missed the last several games because of a strained hamstring but could be ready to return.
Rookie Phillip Gaines has been working as the nickel back in place of the injured Chris Owens but could start at corner if Owens is available against the Broncos.
The Chiefs also have Marcus Cooper, who began the season as a starter but has been buried on the bench because of poor play.
Join us today at 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT for ESPN NFL Nation TV's Spreecast as episode No. 33 gives a Turkey Day preview, revisits Odell Beckham Jr.'s insane three-fingered catch, and discusses several teams' futures given the varying quarterback situations they have inherited this season.
Host Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and co-host Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) will be joined by Michael C. Wright (Chicago Bears reporter), John Keim (Washington Redskins reporter) and Phil Sheridan (Philadelphia Eagles reporter).
Plus, Rob Demovsky (Green Bay Packers reporter) and Mike Reiss (New England Patriots reporter) will debate in this week's "Main Event" about Sunday's big game at Lambeau Field that will feature MVP candidates Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Almost two years to the day of the Kansas City Chiefs’ most recent tragedy, team officials revealed one of the franchise’s best players and brightest hopes has, in all likelihood, lymphoma.
The Chiefs were hopeful the outcome for safety Eric Berry will be different. Perhaps they caught Berry’s illness early enough. Maybe his plan for treatment will make all the difference.
The Chiefs, and by extension Berry, are due that good fortune. The Chiefs, like all teams and families, have been touched by tragedy, but perhaps more than their share.
The career of one of the franchise’s best players, linebacker Derrick Thomas, was cut short when he died from complications after an auto accident. Promising running back Joe Delaney drowned while trying to save the life of some children.
Another running back, Mack Lee Hill, died shortly after having knee surgery. A third, Stone Johnson, died from a broken neck he received during a preseason game.
Then there’s head coach Andy Reid, who dealt with his son Garrett's death of a drug overdose while he was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles.
Perhaps all this experience will help the Chiefs deal with yet another situation more important than football. Chairman Clark Hunt flew in from Dallas on Monday morning so he could not only speak with Berry but also be available for other players, coaches and staff members.
“I don’t think you’re ever equipped necessarily to handle what life throws at you," Hunt said. “Certainly this was completely unexpected. I do think we have a culture where we respect and support each other and really that’s the most important thing at a time like this."
Berry was the Chiefs first-round draft pick in 2010. He reached the Pro Bowl in three of his first four seasons, missing only in 2011, when a torn ACL cost him all but a handful of plays.
More than that, Berry is one of the most active Chiefs in the community. Among his many projects: Sending underprivileged Kansas City students to school with fully loaded backpacks.
“When you have somebody who’s been with you for a number of years and I’ve had a chance to get to know him personally and he’s been such a leader for our football team, it probably does pull at the heart strings a little more," Hunt said. “Putting that aside, whether it’s an employee in the front office or someone on the football field, when they’re going through a tough time we want to be there to support them."
To that end, the Chiefs sent Berry off to Atlanta, where he will undergo more testing and treatment, with more than a few words of encouragement. They know from experience that at this point, that’s about all they can do.
“The important thing for us to do as an organization and as a family is -- tell Eric that we love you, we’re thinking about you and that we hope you have a quick recovery," Hunt said. “I had a chance to speak with Eric earlier today and I just told him that my family’s going to be thinking about you and praying for speedy recovery.
“He sounded upbeat actually and very positive. As you know he’s a very focused individual and his mindset was very much of tackling this and trying to get past it as soon as possible."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry has what team officials believe is lymphoma -- a form of cancer -- and has been placed on the season-ending non-football illness list. Berry will undergo further testing at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta to complete the diagnosis.
"At this point in time, we don't have a definitive diagnosis," Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said at a news conference Monday afternoon. "But the leading consideration for what he has right now is lymphoma.
"We first were alerted to something on Thursday night. It's now Monday. We still don't have a definitive answer. That's OK. We'll get to the experts and we'll get the answer. We'll get a treatment program and we'll go from there."
Burkholder said Berry complained of chest discomfort at the end of Thursday night's road loss to the Oakland Raiders. He was examined then by team physicians and returned to Kansas City with the team.
Berry was still experiencing discomfort on Friday, when he reported to the Chiefs' practice facility for regular day-after-game treatment.
"It just didn't quite add up to an orthopedic injury," Burkholder said.
Berry was given an X-ray, which was negative. Subsequent testing, including an MRI, revealed the mass in his chest.
Burkholder indicated that Berry, as well as his teammates, had a physical examination in June that includes a chest X-ray and blood work.
"Everything checked out then," Burkholder said. "I've obviously been with him a lot this season, and he didn't complain about anything until the [Oakland] ballgame."
Berry, 25, addressed his teammates before leaving for Atlanta and released a statement through the Chiefs.
"I am truly thankful for all of the support from family, friends, coaches, teammates and the entire Chiefs kingdom," he said in the statement. "At first I was in shock with the diagnosis on Saturday and did not even want to miss a game, but I understand that right now I have to concentrate on a new opponent.
"I have great confidence in the doctors and the plan they are going to put in place for me to win this fight. I believe that I am in God's hands and I have great peace in that.
"I know my coaches and teammates will hold things down here the rest of the season and until I am back running out of the tunnel at Arrowhead. I am so thankful and appreciative of being a part of this franchise and playing in front of the best fans in the NFL. I will be back!"
"He was upbeat and very positive," coach Andy Reid said of Berry's comments to the team. "He was awesome. He's not one that likes to do a lot of talking. But he felt like the team needed to hear it from him that he's OK and that he's going to get after this thing and get it fixed.
"There were some guys that were obviously shocked by the information and understandably so. These guys love him, and he's a big part of this football team not only as a player but also as a person and a leader. There were some guys that were shaken up. But I think with his strength and being able to talk to the players, they felt a comfort in that.
"When you get in these situations, you hunker down and you battle for your life is what you do. You have to be in a certain frame of mind. You have to have a certain support system to back you up, and Eric's got that, not only with family but also with the Chiefs."
Berry opted for testing and treatment at Emory because it is close to his home in the Atlanta area. He will be treated by Christopher Flowers, a lymphoma specialist.
"He's about 75 percent done with the testing," Burkholder said. "That evaluation will continue [Tuesday] and through the next couple days. We think we have Eric in a really good spot right now to have a really good outcome with this mass that's in his chest."
The Chiefs were off over the weekend but gathered Monday to begin preparations for Sunday night's game against the Denver Broncos
Williams may not ever develop into a player for the Chiefs but his signing can't hurt. The Chiefs have only five defensive linemen, plus two on their practice squad. It's never a bad idea to have a 309-pound body on the roster and working with coaches in the hope that some day he becomes a contributor.
The Chiefs have plucked a number of developmental players from other organizations since general manager John Dorsey arrived almost two years ago.
Five of them have started at least one game this season: tight end Phillip Supernaw, defensive lineman Jaye Howard, linebacker James-Michael Johnson and defensive backs Jamell Fleming and Ron Parker.
Where the Chiefs stand: They are 7-4 and tied for second place in the AFC West with the San Diego Chargers. The Denver Broncos lead the AFC West at 8-3. The other AFC division leaders are New England (9-2), Cincinnati (7-3-1) and Indianapolis (7-4).
If the season ended today: The Chiefs would be the second of the AFC’s two wild-card teams and the sixth overall seed in the conference playoffs. The Chiefs are one of four AFC teams not in first place to have a 7-4 record. The Baltimore Ravens can make it five by winning tonight against the Saints in New Orleans. Because of tiebreakers, the Chiefs would rank second among those teams, behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chiefs would be headed to play the Bengals in Cincinnati for their wild-card round playoff game. The 7-3-1 Bengals are in first place in the AFC North.
Chiefs this week and what it means: The Chiefs have a lot on the line in Sunday night's game against the Broncos at Arrowhead. A win moves them back into a tie for the division lead. A loss ends all realistic hope of winning the AFC West championship for the Chiefs.
Other games to watch this week: In games involving 7-4 AFC teams not in first place, Pittsburgh is home against New Orleans, Cleveland is at Buffalo and San Diego is at Baltimore.
Both moves make sense for the Chiefs. Bailey is playing well in his first season as a starter. Sherman is one of the league's best blocking fullbacks and plays well on special teams.
Those signings reduce the Chiefs’ list of prospective free agents, but it is still considerable. Potential free agents include outside linebacker Justin Houston, who leads the NFL with 12 sacks. The Chiefs should and will designate Houston as their franchise player, if they don’t get him signed to a long-term deal.
Six other regulars are also in the final seasons of their contracts. That list includes three offensive linemen (center Rodney Hudson, guard Mike McGlynn and tackle Ryan Harris), linebacker Josh Mauga, defensive back Ron Parker and nickel back Chris Owens.
I’ll get more into what the free agent strategy for the Chiefs should be when the season is over. For now, it’s safe to say they must retain Houston and Hudson. Mauga and Parker have played well and could have a role depending on price, too.
Other potential unrestricted free agents are running back Joe McKnight, offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach, defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson, safety Kurt Coleman and long snapper Thomas Gafford.
Wide receiver Junior Hemingway, linebacker Dezman Moses and safety Kelcie McCray are scheduled to be restricted free agents.
The Broncos and Chargers won close games at home and each picked up another half-game on the Chiefs, who lost to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night. The Broncos are in first place at 8-3 with the Chiefs and Chargers tied for second at 7-4.
Much has to play out before the division race is decided. The Chiefs play against the Broncos on Sunday night and on Dec. 28 against the Chargers, with both games at Arrowhead Stadium. The Broncos also have to play against the Chargers in San Diego on Dec. 14.
Otherwise, the teams face difficult schedules. The Chiefs also have games remaining at Arizona and Pittsburgh and at home against Oakland. The Broncos will play in Cincinnati in the season's final Monday night game. The Chargers have a brutal finishing schedule that also includes games against the Ravens, Patriots and 49ers.
While it certainly looks for now like the Chiefs ruined any realistic chance of winning the division title by failing to beat the previously winless Raiders, the race figures to take some more unforeseen turns. The Chiefs are still in position to take advantage, as long as they don't have any more slip-ups similar to the one they had in Oakland.
@adamteicher: The run defense has been disappointing all season, though it didn't cost the Chiefs a game until Thursday night. Remember that the Chiefs have played virtually the entire season without three of the players they were counting on to be run-stuffers -- end Mike DeVito and linebackers Derrick Johnson and Joe Mays. Another one of those players, Eric Berry, is back, but he missed five games with an injury. Still, the Chiefs should be better than this against the run. The Chiefs made great improvement from last season with their pass defense, but it happened at the expense of their run defense.
@adamteicher: The Chiefs have been getting next to nothing all season from the starting wide receivers other than Dwayne Bowe. First Donnie Avery, then A.J. Jenkins and now Frankie Hammond is practically zero. Albert Wilson is an undrafted rookie who has some potential, but he is not ready for a full role yet. Wilson also is better suited to playing as a slot receiver than on the outside.
@adamteicher: This is in reference to the pass interference call on Chiefs cornerback Ron Parker in the fourth quarter Thursday night. I do think it was a bad call. Parker was grabbed and thrown from position by the Oakland receiver.
@adamteicher: Alex Smith is doing what he's coached to do. As far as the final drive Thursday night, the coverage Oakland played dictated that Smith try to take the underneath stuff instead. The Raiders were ahead by four points and therefore not defending field-goal range, but instead taking away the deeper routes.
@adamteicher are we ever going to see Alex smith take us to a last minute victory?— kiA ebadat (@KEbadat) November 21, 2014
@adamteicher: You saw it earlier in the season out in San Diego against the Chargers. But it certainly hasn't happened often.
@adamteicher: Dee Ford has disappeared. Didn't play on defense against Oakland for the second straight game. Because he plays the same position as Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, it was obvious he wasn't going to play a lot this season. But it's very disappointing the Chiefs can't get their first-round draft pick involved even as a situational pass-rusher.
@adamteicher: Marcus Cooper wasn't playing well early in the season and was benched. I can't say I blame the Chiefs for that. He was hurting them. Cornerback play improved when they used Jamell Fleming, Phillip Gaines and Parker in that spot.
@adamteicher not quite a chiefs q, but do you think Thursday night games really need to exist?— Jon (@obeyyourbrain2) November 21, 2014
@adamteicher: The NFL is in the entertainment business. The league is catering to its customers with a Thursday night TV package. I enjoy watching those games, and I know I'm not alone.
@adamteicher: It's possible the Dec. 21 game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh is flexed, but only if the Chiefs and Steelers win most of their games between now and then..
The Chiefs could use help at wide receiver. Kansas City played recent games without injured wide receivers Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins, and then lost Junior Hemingway to a concussion during Thursday night's loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Avant, 31, was signed to bolster the team's numbers at the position. Avant should be a quick study, as he played the first seven seasons of his career for the Philadelphia Eagles, who were coached by current Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
Avant remained with the Eagles one more season after Reid moved on to Kansas City. Avant then signed this season with the Carolina Panthers. He caught 21 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown this season before being released earlier this week.
Avant had three straight 50-plus catch seasons for the Eagles and Reid from 2010 through '12.
The Chiefs placed receiver Jenkins on injured reserve with a shoulder injury on Friday.