Chiefs prove stats can lie

The Baltimore Sun

In one of the most bedeviling statistics of the NFL's first half, the Chiefs are demonstrating that a strong turnover margin doesn't always equate with winning.

Kansas City has 18 takeaways, second most in the league, and is plus-seven in turnover margin, which ranks third in the NFL. The Chiefs also lead the NFL with 11 recovered fumbles. Yet, they are a woeful 1-7.

The past two weeks are symptomatic of their struggles. They had seven takeaways against the Jets and Buccaneers and lost only one turnover themselves. Still, they lost both games, blowing a 24-3 lead against Tampa Bay last week.

In this case, bad defense overrides takeaways. The Chiefs' defense ranks last in the NFL in yards per play, rushing average and sacks per play. But it is interesting to note that of the top 10 teams in turnover margin in the league this season, three have losing records and three are 4-4. Curious.

Around the league

Edgerrin James, the NFL's leading active all-time rusher with 11,987 yards, had a streak of 135 consecutive starts halted last week and didn't play a snap in the Cardinals' 34-13 rout of the Rams. Tim Hightower (Richmond), who like Joe Flacco played in the Colonial Athletic Association last season, started and gained 109 yards for Arizona. J.J. Arrington got six carries and even WR Anquan Boldin had two. The Cardinals are ready to turn the page on James, 30, who has rushed for 380 yards on a 3.5 average this season.

James' former team, the Colts, has been struggling with the run as well. Indianapolis is averaging an NFL-worst 70.1 rushing yards and hasn't had a 100-yard rusher in 16 regular-season games. RB Joseph Addai (32 yards on 17 carries against the Patriots last week) hasn't lived up to his first-round draft status, even though he helped the Colts win the Super Bowl as a rookie. Indianapolis has just 11 runs for as many as 10 yards, fewest in the NFL, and two of those were scrambles by Peyton Manning.

If the Eagles are going to get back into the NFC East race, they have to find a way to contain Giants WR Plaxico Burress tonight in Philadelphia. Burress has scorched the Eagles for 36 catches and six touchdowns in seven games the past three seasons. He's averaging 17.6 yards per catch and has four 100-yard receiving games. This, of course, is why the Eagles signed CB Asante Samuel (seven years, $56 million) in the offseason.

Vikings coach Brad Childress might face a watershed moment today at home against the Packers. He is 0-5 in three years against Green Bay, and he starts his fifth quarterback in that time in Gus Frerotte. Childress likely needs to get a playoff berth in the soft NFC North to keep his job.

Childress would be wise to turn Adrian Peterson loose on the Packers, who rank 28th in the NFL in rushing defense and have been shredded for 178 rushing yards (Titans), 217 (Cowboys), 178 (Buccaneers) and 176 (Falcons) already this season. Despite the aura of the frozen tundra of Green Bay, the Packers have turned into a finesse team.

QB Kerry Collins hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in four games for the Titans, or since he threw the game-winner to TE Alge Crumpler with 1:56 left at M&T; Bank Stadium in Week 5. Unbeaten Tennessee is so run-reliant that Collins has thrown for only three touchdowns in seven starts since replacing Vince Young in Week 2.

Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell has completed just 40.4 percent of his passes (21-for-52) the past two weeks and has been under 50 percent five times in eight games so far. Makes you wonder what coach Lane Kiffin was coaching before he was fired.

If the Browns thought Kellen Winslow talking about staph infections was bad, what did they think when WR Joe Jurevicius came out last week and talked about his staph infection? Jurevicius, who has been on the physically unable to perform list this season with complications from staph in his left knee, said he will have a seventh knee procedure soon. His staph started with a routine arthroscope in January to clean up a previous surgery.

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