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Chiefs rise up, fall down to level of opponent

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Chiefs rise up, fall down to level of opponent

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Chiefs have been something of a rollercoaster this season, though not in terms of wins and losses. They've been quite consistent at losing.

It's their performance that's been uneven, and it's often dictated by their opponent.

When the Chiefs have played one of the league's top teams, such as the Steelers or Broncos, a motley bunch that's lost eight consecutive games rises to the occasion. But when they follow with a game against a similarly downtrodden team, well, the results are fairly predictable.

They've lost, many of the games not even close.

``If you look at the games what we've played our best in, they've been against the `good teams' at the time,'' Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. ``And then the following week, for whatever reason, we haven't been able to play as well and finish.''

The Chiefs' margin of defeat in games played against teams with losing records is 12 points, while they've lost by an average of 13.3 to teams with winning marks.

But when you eliminate the games played against teams within one game of .500, the numbers tell a different story: They've lost by an average of nine points to the Falcons (10-1), Ravens (9-2) and Broncos (8-3), while losing to teams 4-7 or worse by more than 13 points per game.

That doesn't bode well with Carolina (3-8) coming to town Sunday.

``We played good against teams that I guess people don't expect us to win, and then I guess a game like this, people expect us to win because they're not as good a football team as other teams we've faced,'' defensive tackle Shaun Smith said. ``But we can't let down.''

Is that it, though? Are the Chiefs simply letting down against lousy teams?

``I'd like to think we come out every week, regardless of the opponent, knowing that at any given Sunday, any team can beat anyone,'' quarterback Brady Quinn said. ``This is an extremely competitive league. The difference from team-to-team and player-to-player is very minimal.''

Surely the Saints, who have won five of their last seven, are still scratching their heads at how the Chiefs managed to overcome a 24-6 deficit to force overtime at the Superdome, and then had the gumption to finish off the biggest comeback in franchise history for their lone victory.

The Ravens probably wonder who they were playing two weeks later when they visited Arrowhead Stadium and managed to grind and slog and fight their way to a 9-6 victory.

Just last week, the Broncos came to town riding a five-game win streak. Peyton Manning was shut down most of the afternoon, and Kansas City hung around until late in the fourth quarter, when Denver kicked a field goal to help wrap up a 17-9 victory.

On the flip side, the Chiefs were routed 31-13 by struggling San Diego, ambushed in a 38-10 loss at Tampa Bay, and blown out 35-17 by Buffalo early in the year.

``It's been brought to our attention, so I don't think it will be a concern,'' linebacker Derrick Johnson said, ``but we have had that pattern throughout the year.''

Johnson didn't get into the details of how it was addressed, but he did say the coaching staff has tried to get the message across in several different ways.

``Human nature says, `I played the Denver Broncos and they're the best team in the AFC West, so now here's a team that is 3-8 and they're not as good as the Denver Broncos.' So, human nature says, `Relax a little bit. I can relax a little bit,''' Crennel said. ``So, that's what you have to fight. You have to fight human nature. That's what we are focusing on, is not letting down and being able to put forth the same kind of effort we put forth last week.''

Notes: Chiefs LB Tamba Hali (knee), LT Branden Albert (back) and C Ryan Lilja (knee) have not practiced this week. ... The Chiefs claimed OL Hayworth Hicks off waivers. They also released K Matt Szymanski and signed LB Quan Sturdivant to the practice squad.

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Weddle added to AFC Pro Bowl roster to replace McCourty

Weddle added to AFC Pro Bowl roster to replace McCourty

Ravens safety Eric Weddle has been added to the AFC Pro Bowl roster to replace Patriots safety Devin McCourty, who will be playing in the Super Bowl instead. It will be the fourth Pro Bowl appearance for Weddle, who played his previous nine NFL seasons with the Chargers before signing with the Ravens as a free agent.

Many thought Weddle was deserving of a Pro Bowl selection when the rosters were originally announced.  Weddle had an outstanding season with 89 tackles, four interceptions, a sack, and a forced fumble, serving as the leader of the Ravens’ secondary.

Five other Ravens were also named to the Jan. 29 Pro Bowl game in Orlando – long snapper Morgan Cox, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, inside linebacker C. J. Mosley, kicker Justin Tucker, and guard Marshal Yanda, who will not play due to a shoulder injury.

Related: Ravens could take a cornerback in the first round of the NFL Draft

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In a draft deep at CB, taking one early could be Ravens' best move

In a draft deep at CB, taking one early could be Ravens' best move

The Ravens may need to rethink their draft strategy regarding cornerbacks. They haven’t drafted a cornerback in the first three rounds since 2011, when they took Jimmy Smith with the 27th overall pick.

Smith is still the Ravens’ best corner. However, he has been plagued by injuries in recent years, and lack of cornerback depth has become a glaring weakness for the Ravens, in a league that features many explosive wide receivers.

Related: NFL Mock Draft 1.0

According to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., this year’s draft is loaded with talented corners. With the 16th overall pick, the Ravens can address their need at cornerback with someone who might be talented enough to start as a rookie.

“There’s a lot of corners in this draft that are going to go in the first round,” Kiper said during a recent conference call.

Many believe Marshon Lattimore of Ohio St. will be the first cornerback off the board, and will likely be gone before the Ravens can grab him. In his first mock draft, Kiper had Lattimore going No. 6 to the Jets.

However, the list of top-rated corners that could be available for the Ravens at No. 16 includes Marlon Humphrey of Alabama, Sidney Jones of Washington, Jourdan Lewis of Michigan, Teez Tabor of Florida, Cordrea Tankersley of Clemson, and Quincy Wilson of Florida.

The Ravens grabbed a promising corner in the fourth round last year in Tavon Young, who had a strong rookie season. But the Ravens may not have the luxury of waiting to take a cornerback this spring. Instead of taking the best player available at No. 16, the Ravens will have to consider taking the best corner available.

Related: Depth at running back reduces need for Ravens to trade up in draft