The Kansas City Chiefs are the 2010 AFC West Champs, and it’s not even 2011 yet. Before Sunday, so many of us still agonized over whether this moment would come at all, let alone with a game left to play in the regular season—and a week left to contemplate the potential implications and complications of the team’s fortunes.
Like Big Matt, I woke up Monday wondering if indeed it had all really happened. I picked up the morning paper and there it was: “Chiefs Clinch AFC West.” Even then, for a second, I worried that I had mistakenly grabbed a copy of The Onion, especially when I opened the sports section and read “Toledo Stunned in Pizza Bowl”—which, as it would turn out, was also an actual headline.*
*Heartfelt condolences go out to those Toledo alums and fans who had been dreaming since childhood of a Little Caesars Pizza Bowl championship.
Yes, it’s real. But since we are Chiefs fans, we only allow ourselves a few moments of stress-free celebration, followed immediately by ohmigod ohmigod—now what are we going to do about this? Do we rest Matt Cassel and Jamaal Charles on Sunday? Do we put Brodie Alabama in for a strategic “cleanup call?”* Do we just punt out of bounds every time we get the ball? When is a good time to pull the defensive starters and how soon do we suspend Shaun Smith’s Twitter account?
This fretting, of course, is silly. The Chiefs must play all out and win on Sunday, and I have heard many good reasons why: To guarantee that #3 seed. To ensure K.C. hosts the New York Jets, a team everyone has deemed to be the Chiefs’ least intimidating potential opponent. To avoid a possible divisional-round match-up at New England. To preserve the “Arrowhead Mystique”—that aura of invincibility that breaks the will of any visiting team.*
*And, based on Sunday’s attendance figures, the will of many potential ticket-buyers.
But for all the analysis, it seems we are too easily overlooking why a win is needed most of all: To beat the Raiders. Period.*
*This asterisk is here only to drive home the point that no asterisk to this statement is necessary.
How quickly we have forgotten the pain of that rainy day in Oakland just half a season ago. How willing we are to suppress half a century of rage.
Yes, it’s damn exciting that the Chiefs have their first division title in seven years, and a shot at the Super Bowl—but let’s not forget that the Chiefs and Raiders have been clashing since long before the Super Bowl even existed. May I remind you that while the attendance at Super Bowl I—between the Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers—was a paltry 61,946, the first meeting between the Chiefs (Texans) and Raiders several years earlier was witnessed live by more than 250,000.*
*That would be an all-time record, if it were true.
The point is, the Chiefs were not necessarily created with the Super Bowl in mind, but they have always existed to beat the Raiders. The only numbers that matter Sunday are 0-1 (yes, you know—the Chiefs’ season record vs. Oakland) and 5-0 (the Raiders’ unblemished record in the division, which sorely deserves blemishing).
For my first ever post on this blog, it was a great honor and pleasure to register some of the many reasons to hate the Raiders. We must remember those reasons now. And we must not forget what they did at Arrowhead 11 years ago to the day this very Sunday.
And if you’re looking for even more motivation, consider the little-reported piece of information that there is still a way the Raiders can steal the division…
THE OAKLAND RAIDERS CAN CLINCH THE AFC WEST IF:
· Sebastian Janikowski invents time machine
· Travels back to Raiders-Cardinals game, subs in for then-self, kicks otherwise-missed field goal to win game
· Gets traded to Bills, makes overtime field goal at Arrowhead to beat Chiefs
· Gets traded back to Raiders
· Gets back into time machine
· Arrives by Sunday to rejoin now 8-7 Raiders for Arrowhead showdown against now 9-6 Chiefs, with tiebreaker favoring Oakland—winner takes the division!
In fact, there are numerous other potential scenarios, though they do all involve a time machine.* Improbable, yes…but impossible? In a world with Coke Zero, who can say?
*Except for one outcome involving a scoreless Seahawks-Rams tie—finally disqualifying the NFC West from postseason participation—that is just way too complicated to explain here.
If for no other reason, the Chiefs need to win Sunday because they have not yet truly “won” the division—it was awarded to them hours after they had left the field as the result of another team’s loss. Yes, this is merely a technicality of scheduling that had the Chargers playing later in the day, but I believe it was either Abraham Lincoln or Herman Edwards who once said: “Let’s don’t get this thing twisted and think we backed into this deal.” No, let us not.
Let us go out against the Raiders—and into the playoffs—like champions.
Just win, baby.
Topics: AFC West News, Arrowhead Addict, Arrowhead Stadium, Brodie Croyle, Chiefs, Herm Edwards, Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs, Matt Cassel, NFL News, Oakland Raiders, Patriots, San Diego Chargers, Victor Wishna