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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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Harbaugh defends Kaepernick's right to protest anthem

Harbaugh defends Kaepernick's right to protest anthem

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that regardless of whether he agreed with Colin Kaepernick’s actions, he defended Kaepernick’s right not to stand for the national anthem, as the protest by the 49ers quarterback continued to draw significant attention.

“We are talking about a free country,” Harbaugh said following Monday’s practice. “I’m grateful for the right to express my displeasure, and that is what Colin chose to do. It is certainly his right to do it.”

Harbaugh’s brother, Jim Harbaugh, coached Kaepernick with the 49ers for four seasons.

“I know Colin through Jim,” Harbaugh said. “He comes from a great family. He has been brought up the right way with good people who care about him and love him. He reflects that in how successful he has been. I know Jim really likes him a lot, so I respect him. I respect his choice for whatever it is.”

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Harbaugh said if a Ravens’ player decided to take a controversial stand, he hoped the player would take great thought before doing so.

“As far as our players go, it becomes about respect,” Harbaugh said. “I think you respect the opinions of everybody in the room and respect their right to express their opinion. Voltaire (French philosopher) so eloquently stated, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend until death your right to say it.’

“That is the principle our country is founded on. I don’t think you can deny someone the right to speak out or mock or make fun or belittle anyone else’s opinion. You stand on your opinion, and when you state your opinion, it takes a little bit of courage, and there are going to be people that disagree with it. I tell our guys, ‘If you are going to say something publicly, think about it. Make sure you really believe that, because when you speak out there, it is out there, and it belongs to you now.’

“The other part of it is that we are a team. Anything that we do should never…You respect our team, our organization and the other players, and you respect the mission that were are on and what we are trying to accomplish. None of us ever want to do anything that is going to detract or disrespect the efforts of all the other players on the football team. I think that is the balance that all of us have to strike when we speak out about something like that.”

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Ravens must decide between John Urschel and Alex Lewis at left guard

Ravens must decide between John Urschel and Alex Lewis at left guard

OWINGS MILLS – The competition between John Urschel and Alex Lewis to be the Ravens’ starting left guard Week 1 remains close.

Lewis has played well the past two preseason games, while Urschel has been sidelined with an undisclosed “contusion” injury. Urschel’s return to practice could be imminent, because he was on the field post-practice Monday with offensive line coach Juan Castillo.

However, Harbaugh had praise for Lewis following Monday’s practice. The fourth-round draft pick from Nebraska has been a physical presence, and has looked comfortable playing with the starters.

“Really impressed,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, when asked to assess Lewis’ performance Saturday night against the Lions. “He made some mistakes. He was late, passed off a couple of twists and games. But he’s a quick learner.”

Does Urschel’s missed practice time make the decision on which player to start more complicated?

“That’s a great question,” Harbaugh said. “We’re probably considering that right now, but we haven’t had that discussion yet. That’s something we have to address here very quickly.”

Even if Urschel starts the season, Lewis is showing that at worst, he can be a reliable backup. The coaching staff believes Lewis will be an NFL starter one day. It remains to be seen if that day will be Week 1 against the Bills.

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Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman could make NFL debut in preseason finale

Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman could make NFL debut in preseason finale

OWINGS MILLS – Wide receiver Breshad Perriman could finally see his first game action with the Ravens on Thursday, during the preseason finale in New Orleans.

“If the doctors clear him, he’ll be out there,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said following Monday’s practice. “If he can play, he will play. I do want to see him playing before he gets in a regular season game. That’s something we would want to see him do if he can. But that will be up to the docs.”

Perriman has not played for the Ravens since he was a first-round pick in 2015, due to two separate knee injuries. However, Perriman was activated off the PUP list Aug. 23 and has been practicing since.

If Perriman played Thursday without any physical setbacks, it would increase the likelihood that he would dress for the regular-season opener against the Bills on Sept. 11.

Even if Perriman’s snaps were limited, he could be utilized in some packages as a downfield threat. The presence of Perriman could also open up opportunities for other receivers to work underneath.

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