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Defensive lineman Jared Allen retired from the NFL in 2015 and wasn’t ready to give up on the competition he’d come to enjoy as a five-time All-Pro.His solution: The Olympics.The problem: He didn’t compete in any Olympic sports.Less than a year later Juan Thornhill Jersey Mens , Allen and three other former NFL stars — none with any prior experience — are attempting to qualify for the U.S. national curling championships against players who have been throwing stones for most of their lives.It would be the first step toward competing in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.“Every team in the NFL — whether you’re hot garbage or the defending Super Bowl champions — every coach come August says the same thing: ‘We’re trying to win the Super Bowl,'” Allen said. “We come from that mentality, where we set lofty goals.“Our short-term goals are continually to get better: fundamentals, strategy, sweeping. We know if we master these little things, it will take us a long way.”A 12-year NFL veteran who spent most of his career with the Chiefs and Vikings, Allen was lamenting the end of his playing days when a friend dared him to try an Olympic sport. Allen toyed with the idea of badminton but rejected it as too taxing.“We thought about curling: It was chill, and the winners have to buy the losers beer,” he said. “We thought it was a win-win.”He rounded up former Rams quarterback Marc Bulger and Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck and tackle Michael Roos to form a team; all were Pro Bowl selections during their NFL careers, and living in the Nashville, Tennessee, area.Adopting the name All-Pro Curling Team, they started from scratch in March and kept their plans under wraps until they felt like they had made enough progress.“We wanted the reaction when we got on the ice to be, ‘Oh, how long have you guys been doing this?” Allen said in a telephone interview after practicing on a converted hockey rink in Nashville. “We were serious. We didn’t want it to seem like it was just some media hype Bashaud Breeland Jersey , or just trying to stay relevant.”The first test was in November, when Allen and Bulger — with two “regular” curlers — competed in the Curl Mesabi Classic in Northern Minnesota. Their first opponent: The gold medal-winning team from Pyeongchang led by four-time Olympian John Shuster.They lost 11-3, giving up five points in the sixth end.“Honestly, they were a little better than I had expected,” said Matt Hamilton, the second on that team. “All in all, Jared was technically pretty sound. But at the end of the day, I’ve seen thousands of curling shots and situations, and that is ultimately going to win us more games.”Although curling matches are often conceded when they are out of reach, the Olympians kept playing through the eighth (of 10) ends, to help the football players gain the experience they will need if they are to be more competitive. (If it’s any consolation for Allen’s crew, Shuster’s rink also scored a five-ender against Sweden in the gold medal match.)“We had one bad end, and we just kept playing with them. We just wanted to be a sponge,” Bulger said. “The key was they knew we were taking it seriously. It wasn’t just us saying, ‘We’re going to take over curling Anthony Sherman Jersey ,’ kind of as a gimmick.100<button class="view-gallery">View Gallery</button> Gallery:View from the sidelines: NFL cheerleaders 2018Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports | Raj Mehta“We hope to play them again,” he said, “when we’re better.”The All-Pros are back at it at the USA Men’s Challenge Round in Blaine, Minnesota, this weekend, where they are competing for one of four remaining spots in next month’s national championships. (Top teams such as Shuster’s have already qualified.)They got off to a rough start in their first match, falling 10-1 to Steve Birklid’s Seattle-based rink on Thursday night. But, by hopping into the sport early in the Olympic cycle, they have almost three more years before the team for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing is chosen.Hamilton confessed that he was put off at first about newcomers thinking they could go to the Olympics after four years in a sport he has worked at to master his entire life. But he also realized that the publicity will be good for curling, which has struggled to break out of its niche as an every-four-years curiosity.“If I really think I’m that good, I should be like, ‘Bring it on!'” Hamilton said in an email to The Associated Press from a competition in Japan. “How much they respected the game, though, is what made me realize they aren’t making a mockery. We just have some extremely athletic individuals who respect sport but have a need to compete in their blood. Can’t disrespect that!”All four football players agreed that the reception they’ve received from lifetime curlers has been decidedly different than the one that might welcome a curler who tried to break into the hyper-competitive NFL.“Oh, he’d get smashed Dustin Colquitt Jersey ,” Allen said. “We’d go out of our way to test his mettle, for sure.”Instead, the ex-NFLers found that the tight-knit but friendly community of curlers was eager to accept them. In their match against the Olympians, there was trash-talking — or banter, depending on whom you ask — and Hamilton even gave them some of his old curling gear.“I looked at their broom heads and I was disgusted. I was wondering why these former pro football players couldn’t afford new broom heads,” he said. “So I went into my curling bag and gave them some gently used ones before the game. That really surprised Jared, claiming nothing like that would ever fly in football.”Like many of those who experience curling only every four years, on TV, the football players saw the sweeping and the shouting and underestimated how hard it is. “We played football, but it’s a lot of muscles we didn’t use,” Bulger said.Sliding on the ice was also an adjustment, but the biggest challenge has been the strategy.When he first started watching, Bulger said, he would see curlers setting up protective stones called guards and thought they were missing their shots.“We just assumed that you throw to the button every time, and we learned that is not the game Rashad Fenton Kansas City Chiefs Jerseys ,” he said. “It’s like a novice chess player going against” a grandmaster.But their NFL experience did help in other ways, priming them with not just physical fitness, but also good practice habits, the ability to make decisions on the fly and to improve through film study and coaching.“Like any other sport you have to learn, try to figure out how to get better,” Bulluck said. “Playing football at a very high level, being one of the best at the position once upon a time, to get to that level in anything you do you have to be able to take coaching.”And, of course, they’re competitive.“The message is: We want to bring attention to it. We want to have fun with it,” Allen said. “But we’re dead serious about what we’re trying to accomplish.” On Monday night, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 24-17, advancing their record to 7-4 — and 3-0 in the AFC West.After the 2-4 stretch that had preceded Monday night’s win, more than a few analysts (and many fans) had given up on the team repeating last year’s success — that is, to secure the top seed in the playoffs.Some were even questioning whether the Chiefs would even make the playoffs.But with Monday night’s win in their pocket Kansas City Chiefs Jerseys 2019 , the Chiefs are actually well-positioned to make the postseason.I spent some time with the New York Times NFL playoff odds calculator — which has become my favorite postseason prediction tool — to see where the team stands.Assuming nothing about how the rest of the season plays out, the Chiefs presently have an 87% chance to make the playoffs, a 79% chance to win the division and a 16% shot at a first-round bye. If the Chiefs lose their games to the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears — but win against the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos and Chargers, they’d have a 99% chance to make the playoffs— almost certainly with at least one home game as the AFC West champion.There’s a 7% chance they’d land the second seed and get a first-round bye.But that Bears game doesn’t look as tough as it did at the beginning of the season — while the Raiders have been looking better than expected in recent weeks.If the Chiefs have losses to the Patriots and Raiders — but win the rest of their schedule — they still have a 97% chance to make the dance.There would still be a teentsy-tiny chance at a bye week, but the most likely result (75%) would be a home game as the AFC West winner.Otherwise, the Chiefs would be on the road to start the playoffs.I could find no scenario where the Chiefs finish the season at 10-6 and aren’t extremely likely to make the playoffs.The worst outcome would be losses to the Raiders and Chargers, which give them a 94% chance at the postseason and a just-above-even chance (54%) to win the AFC West.In short, the Chiefs can afford two losses and still have an outstanding chance to make the postseason.But the team still absolutely controls its playoff destiny.If the Chiefs finish with only one more loss — to any team — they clinch a playoff berth.This opens the possibility that should the Chiefs win the next four games, they could rest starters in Week 17 against the Chargers.But unless circumstances align in their favor over the next few weeks — for example, if the Baltimore Ravens or Patriots drop their games to the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys in Week 12 — this is unlikely; winning the Week 17 game will substantially increase the probability the Chiefs will get a bye week.If the Chiefs win their last five games, they have about a one-in-three chance to get the top seed — and an excellent chance (86%) for a bye.With two more not-so-unreasonable events added in — the Cowboys defeating the Patriots this week and the San Francisco 49ers defeating the Ravens the week after that — the team’s chance at the top seed rises to about two-in-three.And their chance at one of the top two seeds would be around 97%.So regardless of what anybody is saying around the water cooler, this thing isn’t over.