Mighty mites

The Kansas City Chiefs are getting unbelievable production so far from their class of rookies, two of whom are 5-foot-9 and among the shortest players in the National Football League.

Of the 255 players chosen in the 2010 draft, Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas are two of only eight who stand 5-9 or shorter. Former LSU player Trindon Holliday, at 5-5, was the shortest player taken in the draft.

McCluster and Arenas, both second-round choices, have made a huge impact on the Chiefs, whose 3-0 start is among the NFL’s biggest surprises. Fellow rookies Eric Berry, a starting safety, and Tony Moeaki, an emerging tight end, also have come up large for KC.

McCluster and Arenas have invigorated the Chiefs’ return game and McCluster was a huge weapon as a receiver during Sunday’s surprisingly-easy win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Don’t look now, but the Chiefs might be for real. I mean, really real, as in real enough to win the AFC West and get a home game in the playoffs. Think I’m crazy? First, you’re not alone. Second, check out Kansas City’s schedule. I’ve been talking about how soft it is for weeks now and if the Chiefs can maintain confidence after a bye week and road games against Houston and Indianapolis, the season is there for the taking.

Matt Cassel looked like a real NFL quarterback Sunday against the hapless 49ers. Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles are the perfect complementary running backs because of their different styles. And who cares if Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers aren’t the best wide receivers in the world; McCluster and Moeaki are more than picking up the slack.

I was sad to read about the death of NFL Hall of Famer George Blanda, whose career really takes me back to the early days of my interest in football.

Blanda, incredibly, played from 1949 through 1975 and not once did he do a Wrangler jeans ad or hold his team hostage while he mulled over his future – for the umpteenth time.

Yes, that’s yet another blow to the body of my favorite quarterback, Brett Favre.

Blanda was the Favre of his day, without all the indecision.

This from the Associated Press:

blandaBlanda is remembered most for his heroics in the 1970 season when at age 43, he threw three touchdown passes and kicked a field goal in the Raiders’ comeback victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In that same season, Blanda also kicked a 52-yard field goal to defeat the Cleveland Browns, threw a winning touchdown pass against the Denver Broncos and booted a last-minute field goal to defeat the San Diego Chargers. The Raiders ended up losing to the Baltimore Colts in the 1970 AFC title game, but Blanda became the oldest player ever in a title game.

What a truly amazing player from a totally different era. There is no one like Blanda today and there never will be. He’s the truest of throwbacks to another era.

There are 25 unbeaten teams remaining in college football as we continue to learn where this season is headed.

Right now, it’s Alabama and Ohio State who are on a collision course to play in the national championship game, but one or both have plenty of time to falter. Boise State is poised to step in should one of the favorites fall. And Oregon – the Ducks – are right there, ranked No. 4 with a huge game this Saturday against No. 9 Stanford, in Eugene.

The winner of that game is a serious national championship contender. And it’ll be part of a great Saturday of football viewing pleasure for yours truly.

It’ll start at 11 a.m. with Kansas at Baylor, a highly-intriguing match-up. Kansas really needs this one in its quest to get to six wins. Then again, so does Baylor. And the Bears are at home, which gives them at edge. KU is treading water at best, even after a good showing Saturday night in its easy win over New Mexico State, one of the worst teams in the country.

There are still more questions than answers when it comes to the Jayhawks.

At 2:30, I’ll watch Texas-Oklahoma, although some of the shine is off that game thanks to the Longhorns’ complete meltdown at home in their loss to UCLA. If Texas wants to be the king of the new and restructured Big 12, then Texas needs to not lose games like this at home. The king isn’t exactly dead, but its in critical condition.

Finally, I’ll be watching Stanford-Oregon. That’s a good Saturday, folks.

My conference power rankings as of this moment are:

1) SEC. I’ll get back to you when this changes. Alabama, Florida, Auburn, LSU and Arkansas all are ranked in the top 15.

2) Pac-10. Who would have thunk it? But with Oregon and Stanford leading the charge, this conference is showing well. Arizona (14) and USC (18) also are ranked.

3) Big 10. Ohio State is the conference’s only top 10 team, but five schools – Wisconsin (11), Iowa (17), Michigan (19), Penn State (22) and Michigan State (24) are making noise.

4) Big 12. Did I mention how Texas really blew it? Nebraska is for real, I think. But Oklahoma has not put it all together.

5) ACC. Two ranked teams, Miami (Fla.) and North Carolina State, neither of which is guaranteed to stay.

6) Big East. Or, as I call it, the Small Least.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with “Who Is the Opinion Line Caller?”