Another Bold Prediction? Why Not?

I would like to open today’s post with a brief statement. This will just take a moment…

I TOLD YOU SO.

Sure, I’m not usually the type of person to say, “I told you so,” precisely because when I make a rare prediction, it usually turns out not to be so. But six weeks ago today, I posted the following:

The Kansas City Chiefs will beat the Green Bay Packers.

That’s right. You read it here first…

The Chiefs will beat the Packers. How do I know this? The same way I am able to evaluate every other question raised during this up-and-down Chiefs season: I have no idea. But they will. And the Packers may very well be 13-0 by the time they visit Arrowhead on December 18… They may even be resting some starters. In any event, I don’t expect the Chiefs will be playing the spoiler in terms of Green Bay’s cruise back to the playoffs. But at least [the Packers] will leave here feeling rotten.

Perhaps you infer from my giddiness that I did not have the most confidence in my own prediction. Like I said, I don’t often get these things right. Clearly, the Kyle Orton Era in Kansas City has indeed lasted more than one minute, and now the discussion is whether it should and/or will last more than one season.

I won’t say I expected Sunday’s shocker, but I felt it was really possible, a gut feeling loosely supported by historical data. I had been thinking back to the Chiefs’ triumph over the then-reigning-champion Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009—a year in which KC only won three other games—which led me to do a little research. I found that, since 1979, the Chiefs had been 6-2 (now 7-2) at home against defending Super Bowl champs. So there.

But I certainly didn’t predict that by the time this game arrived the Chiefs would have lost their starting quarterback and then ditched their head coach—the two major developments that made the difference in this upset. This changes everything. Or, rather, everything has changed. From the first drive forward on Sunday, this felt like a new team (with the same, but improved defense).

I’ll let others continue the discussion about what these new circumstances on the sidelines and behind center might mean for the Chiefs into 2012 and beyond. For now, I just care about next week and the week after that. That’s right. I’m feeling overly optimistic again.*

*It’s sorta, like, my thing.

So I will double down and offer one more “bold” prediction: The Chiefs will win the AFC West.

Why not?

Frankly, as Patrick already pointed out yesterday, it’s not that crazy a proposition, and seemingly much more possible than what we just saw happen on Sunday. The Chiefs may not control their own destiny, but with games against the Raiders and the Broncos, they will have a relatively large say in it. And if Tebow and His Disciples can just trip up in Buffalo and Norval Turner’s boys can have one bad day* in Detroit, then the Chiefs will, essentially, already be in the playoffs, starting with the AFC West Championship Game at INVESCO Mile High. (The whole Kyle-Orton-comes-back-to-claim-what-is-rightfully-his storyline will be a nice subplot.)

*I’m still annoyed at the Baltimore Ravens for putting up one of the worst defensive efforts in their post-Browns history this Sunday at San Diego; the Chargers should have already been removed from this discussion.

As I’ve shared this optimism with some family and friends, I’ve gotten a little pushback, mostly in one of two forms:

1) “Shhh. Don’t jinx it.”

Hey, I’m flattered, and I hold AA in the highest esteem, but “Quick Slant” ain’t the Sports Illustrated cover.*

*Sure was glad to see Tim Tebow on there this past week.

2) “There’s no point in making the playoffs at 8-8, because who wants another one-and-done playoff run.”

First of all, ignoring the recent example of the 7-9 2010 Seattle Seahawks (and the only fans wishing they hadn’t made the playoffs are Saints fans), the 8-8 2011 AFC West Champion Chiefs would host a playoff game. Who doesn’t want that?

And they wouldn’t be 8-8, really—they’d be 3-0 in this new “interim” phase, and one of the hottest teams in the NFL. This won’t be Herm’s “Let’s-don’t-get-this-thing-twisted-and-think-we-backed-into-this-deal” team from the 2006 season. No, Crennel’s Crew would be a dangerous sensation.

And the Chiefs’ most likely (in this unlikely scenario) Wild Card opponent would be the Pittsburgh Steelers, lead by a hobbled—and, of course, unattractive and foul-smelling—Ben Roethlisberger. This is a team that the Chiefs already almost beat with despite Tyler Palko masquerading as quarterback, and against Roethlisberger when he was merely banged-up, unattractive, and foul-smelling.

But…that’s all a couple weeks away anyway. Mostly, I’m just feeling grateful that with two games left in the regular season, the Chiefs are still playing for immediate dividends, no matter how improbable. The mission is clear. The Chiefs will take care of the Raiders—something, it must always be said, is a moral duty regardless of any other implications. Meanwhile, for one afternoon, we will put our hopes in the hands of the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions. It is somewhat poetic that the two teams that had all but ended the Chiefs’ season before it began, back in September, now hold the power to extend it.

Best of all, now that we’ve knocked off the defending NFL champs, we can sit back and enjoy football on these last two holiday weekends, since there’s really nothing to lose. And a division to win.

And when the Chiefs do, remember who told you so.

 

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