Around this time last week I picked the 2-6 Broncos to defeat the 5-3 Chiefs because I believed Kansas City was walking into a perfect storm they simply wouldn’t be able to weather.
This week, the Arizona Cardinals had better batten down the hatches.
I am not a big believer that every loss an NFL team suffers will have an impact on the next game they play. When the Chiefs lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Oakland Raiders I did not believe they would be so devastated that they would take their frustrations out on the Denver Broncos.
You see, the Chiefs played a sloppy game in Oakland and they still nearly won the thing. Sure, the players were likely heartbroken over the loss but most of their frustrations had to be directed at themselves. It was their fault they couldn’t run out the clock and their fault they got stupid penalties. As angry as the Chiefs must have been after that loss they had to be equally pleased. Until they went to Denver, the Oakland game was the worst the Chiefs had played all season. They were absolutely awful, making more mental and physical mistakes than they had in all their other games combined. They were on the road in a hostile environment against a division rival and they still nearly pulled out the win. The message that week from the coaches was likely that the Chiefs merely needed to avoid shooting themselves in the foot. While this message wouldn’t necessarily be incorrect, it would not have provided the Chiefs with the fire they needed to go to Mile High.
No, the loss to Oakland was not going to be a wake up call to the Kansas City Chiefs. The loss to the Denver Broncos on the other hand, well that is something completely different.
I do believe there are, on certain occasions, losses that will spur an NFL team forward and make them better. Last season, the Tennessee Titans entered the year with extremely high expectations. Yet a tough schedule caused the Titans to stumble out of the gate, losing their first six games. The turning point came in the sixth loss. The Titans traveled all the way to England to get their behinds handed to them on a British tea tray by the New England Patriots, 59 to zip.
The Titans had been humiliated on a world stage. They were angry but not the kind of angry the Chiefs were after the Raiders loss. The Titans had spend the first six games being angry at themselves for not living up to their own expectations for the season. They spend six games knowing they were more talented than a lot of the teams they were losing to yet they were unable to do anything about it.
The humiliation at the hands of the Patriots instilled them with a different type of anger. They no longer had just themselves to blame. Now, they had the Patriots to blame. It is one thing to play poorly and get your butt kicked but it is another thing to have the smug New England Patriots run up the score on you and shut you out in front of the Queen of England.
It was righteous angry at the world that the Titans stewed during their off week following the shellacking and they came back in their next game and slaughtered the Jacksonville Jaguars 30 to 13. The would go on to win five straight and finished strong, winning eight of their final ten games. Their embarrassment helped them right the shop and their talent helped to keep it on course.
The Chiefs have the talent and the attributes to turn their sinking ship around but before they played the Broncos, there was kind of a feeling surrounding the Chiefs that they were exceeding expectations, that they were lucky to be atop the AFC West. While that may be true to a certain extend, my guess is that the Kansas City Chiefs have come to like the prospect of making a playoff run. I am willing to bet that maybe they felt lucky for their fast start earlier in the season but that now, they expect to be winners. If the culture of losing in Kansas City has indeed morphed into a culture of winning this season then the Arizona Cardinals had better watch out this Sunday.
The Kansas City Chiefs are likely to bring a reckoning with them when they return to Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday and the Cardinals are the perfect victim. Arizona is near the bottom of the league in nearly every category, they have no real quarterback and they are about to play a Chiefs team that is interested in more than just playing fundamentally sound football. They are about to play a Chiefs team that wants to kick the living crap out of somebody and prove to the NFL and the world that all they are no fluke.
Make no mistake, we’ll find out everything we need to know about the Chiefs on Sunday. If they happen to fall, we’ll know that while the arrow is still most definitely pointing up, that this team still has some work to do to make it all the way back.
Chances are, however, that it is the Arizona Cardinals who will be at the wrong place at the wrong time this weekend and they will likely be the unwilling victims in a lopsided statement game by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City 38, Arizona 9