Trying to predict what the 2011 Kansas City Chiefs are going to do next is just about as futile as trying to determine if Donald Trump’s hair is combed straight down and then back or just back.
We like things to be easy to understand, particularly in sports and particularly in sports media. The Patriots and Steelers are going to be good every year. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the league’s best QB’s. The Browns and Bengals will consistently stink.
Yet every year, there are a few stories that buck the norm and the media spends most of the season turning them into the stories of the year. What is wrong with Philip Rivers? Will Peyton Manning ever play football again? The Bengals are supposed to be our season long punch line, what gives?
The reality of the situation is that as much as we might like everything to be packaged in nice little easy to understand sound bites, matters are usually more complicated than that. As with many situations, clear answers tend to take a little while to emerge.
Earlier in the season, the Chiefs looked like a leading candidate to have the first pick in the draft, Todd Haley looked like a dead man walking and Scott Pioli was about to be put on probation by a fan base hungry for a title and tired of losing.
A month later, the Chiefs looked like a team destined to defy the odds and win the AFC West. They were on a four game winning streak with two very winnable games on the horizon. They were, with all due respect to the Green Bay Packers, the hottest team in the NFL.
Today the Chiefs are just a mediocre team trying to keep their heads above the water in the AFC West. They’re inconsistent, shallow on depth and fatally flawed.
So you see, trying to figure out who the 2011 Chiefs are is an exercise in futility. The Chiefs, like the rest of the teams in the league, are constantly evolving. The NFL season is a rollercoaster ride. That’s why we love it so much. Kansas City’s terrible loss to the Dolphins yesterday tells us absolutely nothing about what will happen to the Chiefs the rest of the season. It tells us only that we’ll have to take this ride one game at a time.
The winning streak was fun and the losses were incredibly painful. The zombie jokes, the beanbag game, Todd Haley’s beard and Monday Night Football at Arrowhead on Halloween were all good for a lot of laughs, thrills and chills in the first half of the season.
But that is all over now.
Todd Haley likes to break the season into quarters. Some people think that method is silly. By Haley’s system, the Chiefs are about to start the third quarter of their season. Haley’s logic is that if his team can go 3-1 in each “quarter” they will finish 12-4 and make the playoffs. Personally I don’t really care what methods Haley uses to motivate his team and keep them focused so long as they work.
It is doubtful the Chiefs will get to 12 wins this season but if they managed to achieve 3-1 records in the next two quarters, their 9-7 record just might be enough to win the AFC West.
If I were Haley, I’d scrap the quarter system and tell my team that they are about to enter an eight-game season. The Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers are all 4-4 and the Broncos are 3-5. The race is so tight that every team in the division can pretty much hit the reset button. Besides tie-breakers, nothing that happened in the first eight games of the season matters any more.
The team that plays the best over this eight-game season will win the AFC West. The Chiefs have just as good a chance as the other three teams in the division.
So do not despair my friends. The season is just beginning. It starts this Sunday, at Arrowhead.