Sunday’s Season-Opening Significance

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The regular season is upon us and the Kansas City Chiefs are in preparation for Sunday afternoon’s showdown with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Sunday, September 8 has been circled on the organization’s calendar since Andy Reid was hired in early-January. It’s tough to characterize a Week 1 game as a must-win situation for the Chiefs, but that’s precisely what I believe Sunday’s game in northeast Florida to be. The season opener has special significance for this franchise. It’s the first stop on the team’s ‘Return-to-Respectability’ tour for veteran players like Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Flowers.

For rookies like offensive tackle Eric Fisher, it’s the first opportunity to offer the team that drafted him reassurances and a return on their investment. Sunday’s game creates the perfect challenge for the first overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. Fellow offensive tackle and the NFL’s No. 2 pick Luke Joeckel will be on the opposite sideline. There was raucous debate in the spring about which prospect would make for the better offensive lineman in the league. Some said Fisher, and some said Joeckel. I have to think this will be somewhere in the back of Fisher’s mind when the Chiefs take the field at EverBank on Sunday.

There’s even something at stake for Andy Reid. The opener is the start to his reestablishment campaign as one of the best head coaches in the National Football League. Qualifying for the NFL postseason would be a quick way for him to do that in Kansas City. Unfortunately, not everyone is sold on Reid as the answer for the Chiefs. The end of his tenure as head coach in Philadelphia is disconcerting to some. His refusal to take time away from the game after a tragic year in 2012 is also a concern in some NFL circles, but Reid seems to be rejuvenated in Kansas City and will want to prove that this weekend.

I’m also convinced that Sunday’s game is supremely significant for quarterback Alex Smith. It’s not much of a stretch to think he’ll want to get off to a good start in what may be the defining era of his NFL career. San Francisco traded Smith away to the Kansas City Chiefs after he lead the Niners to the NFC Championship game in 2011 and completed 70% of his passes in 2012. Being traded away, by the team that drafted, you may be the leading cause of an NFL player having a chip on his shoulder. Smith has never shown himself to be a self-serving, glory-seeking type of quarterback, but you’d be naive to think he doesn’t want to make a good first impression.

Sunday’s game also marks the first for a new regime in Jacksonville. The David Caldwell-Gus Bradley administration is just as eager to hit the ground running. The Jags were a bottom dweller like the Chiefs in 2012, finishing dead last in the AFC South at 2-14. They’ll certainly want to steal a game away from the 3.5-point favorite in their home opener.

Just how important is winning Sunday’s game with the Jacksonville Jaguars? I suppose it depends on how one defines success for the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs. If the NFL playoffs are the measure of success, the importance of this contest can’t be overstated. Since NFL realignment in 2002, over 50% of the teams that earned a berth in the NFL postseason won their opening game. The Chiefs have a brutal schedule to start the regular season. Kansas City will play their first three games in just 11 days. A win on Sunday helps the new-look Chiefs build momentum for a tough first quarter of the season.

This matchup won’t be anyone’s ”game of the week”, but it’s not without intrigue. Teams make worst-to-first transitions seemingly every NFL season.  Both of these franchises would like to become one of those stories in 2013. The Chiefs, on paper, appear to be in better position to actually make that happen. We’ll have some idea of which team is headed in that direction by the late afternoon on Sunday.

How important do you think this game is to the Chiefs’ 2013 regular season campaign? Is it just another Sunday at the office or a Week 1 must-win game? Use the comment section below to chime in. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.

Until next week, Addicts!

Topics: Kansas City Chiefs

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  • Norman Gunn

    This is without a doubt the most hardest team I’ve ever had to evaluate. Other than at WR we are oozing with talent yet that is exactly what I thought last year. I expect our defense to play like a top ten defense. For our running game to stay top 5 in the league. And to also win this game because I have the Chiefs going 10-6.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      We’re improved at the two biggest spots from a year ago (Head Coach & QB). Still… An 8-game improvement in one offseason is tough.

  • Pealvin

    I’d rate this as a definite must win game. We are the better team and we need to come out and set the tone early in this one. We can’t come out soft and let them hang around in their stadium on opening weekend. I feel this is where we show we are serious about contending for the division.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I defintiely don’t want to go into that game with Dallas sitting at 0-1. That puts entirely too much pressure on the Chiefs in their home opener.

      • chiefridgy

        I agree

  • Twaters

    I hate to say it’s a week 1 must win, but it is. Then having the Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants is a tall order. Getting out of the first quarter 2-2 should be a reasonable expectation. For the most part, the Chiefs have avoided the injury bug and hopefully will continue. If they stay healthy, I say we’re looking at a 10-6 to 9-7 team. I think I speak for all Chiefs’ fans when I say we’re cautiously optimistic. 0-16 or 16-0, I’m in it for the long haul!!!! GO CHIEFS!!!!!!

  • chiefridgy

    The Chiefs need to come out and make a statement by stomping these fools into the ground! Pedal to the metal baby!

  • Michael Shaw

    Aren’t all games must wins??

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Technically, yes. Classically, no. We see teams throw games away at the end of the season every year.
      I get what you’re saying, but some games are more important than others.

      • Michael Shaw

        Sorry Stacy. That was my failed attempt to be humorous!! I agree 100% that we need and SHOULD win this game!! GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!

        • Stacy D. Smith

          I figured as much.

    • chief ken

      Some more than others . Opening with a win is HUGE at this point for The CHIEFS, Chiefs by 23 GOOOOOO CHIEFS

  • Bosco Cletus

    I believe it to be a must win, and really on paper it should be just that. I’m excited for one matchup in particular, I want to see what Joeckel can do against Hali/Houston, even though at this point only one is a house hold name, Joeckel cant be too happy to take on these two guys week one. Without Blackmon, MJD dinged up, and possibly Gabbert out, could be a rough day for the Jags offense.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Yep. They’ll also have a rookie playing opposite of Shorts. I bet he’ll draw Sean Smith and have a heck of a time getting off the jam.

      • Bosco Cletus

        I also want to see improved pass pro from our guys too, shots like that one Polamalu laid on in the game before need to stop, San Fran didn’t go light on the pass rush either, Smith got banged around in that game more than I like to see.

  • thabear04

    Luke Joeckel going up against the Team who they said was gonna draft him but found out he was not going number 1, And the match up of Joekel and Hail and Houston cant wait for Sunday. Go Chiefs

  • thabear04

    When was the last time Chiefs won its first game?

    • Stacy D. Smith

      The 2010 season.

  • Chris Tarrants

    It is a must win for Reid and Smith. They both have a point to prove, and I am going out on a limb here and my prediction sitting right now is a Kansas City routing of the jags and their new mustard dipped helmets. 31-6! Our new defense is going to be tough as nails, and MJD will not be his old self. Alex will lead the offense to 4 td’s and a field goal. Oh and make that 3 throwing td’s and a rushing td for Charles

  • Travis Vanessa

    I too think KC will rout the jags.

  • ccseifert

    Until you lock up home field advantage in the playoffs, every game of every week is must-win. It’s redundant every time a writer talks about how a game is must-win. There’s only 16 games in the season, of course it is.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      You’re nitpicking. We all know the connotative definition of “must-win game.” It’s just a game we really, really, really, really need to win. I could nitpick the definition further to exclude the one you settled upon. If you REALLY wanna get technical, NO game (save those in the single-elimination postseason tournaments) are truly “must-win” games.

      • ccseifert

        Yeah, I’m nitpicking… that’s what it is. Except that by calling a game “must-win”, there’s an inherent suggestion that other games are not “must-win”. To consider every game “must-win” is apparently nitpicking.

        So what games would we consider not “must-win”? Definitely not divisional games, those count for tie-breakers. Games against rivals or potential playoff opponents? No, those are pretty important. What game could we consider relatively unimportant then, if we’re not nitpicking? Probably a game against a team that is not in our division and is likely expected to contend for the #1 draft pick of 2014? That’s a possibility… hey wait.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          Calling one game a “must-win” doesn’t imply that the others are “mustn’t-win” games. That’s quite the stretch. You’re nitpicking… You’re being intellectually dishonest about the connotative definition of the phrase. The only games you MUST win are those that bring an immediate end to your season otherwise (id est, playoff games).

          “Must-win”, put simply, means “really, really important game.” You can pretend you don’t know that, but that doesn’t help your argument. Because again… The Chiefs could drop the opening game and later win a game they won’t be favored in to make up for it.

          You can either acknowledge that the term clearly indicates a really significant game or we can tumble to the bottom of the hill and you can admit that the only games you ever HAVE to win are those that happen in the postseason tournament. Your choice.

          • ccseifert

            See now I can’t decide if you’re intentionally being facetious or if you just really don’t understand what I originally said.

            You do realize that the game that you win in week 16 to lock up a playoff berth has exactly the same weight (tie breakers not withstanding) as a game you win in week 1, right? They both are a win and both get you to whatever record you need to have in order to have a better record than those below you.

            So when I said that until you lock up home field advantage in the playoffs, every game is a must win game because every game gives you the opportunity to get where you want to go, it’s not nitpicking, it’s reality. That’s why the old cliche of “only looking head to the next game because that’s the one we have to win” is a cliche.

            The only intellectual dishonesty here is that you evidently think that using the phrase “must-win” on only some games doesn’t suggest that other games aren’t “must-win”. Or do you plan to write an article every week this season about how the next game is also “must-win”?

            I fully understand what you mean about the connotative definition of the phrase “must-win”. My original point, which seems to have been missed, is that phrases like “must-win” now have that connotative definition because lazy writers use it for articles about games that almost always AREN’T “must-win” (if we use the assumption that some games aren’t “must-win”).

            You know what are must-win games? From the connotative definition point of view? Games that you don’t have to tell people that they are must-win. It’s already obvious.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            You’re right. Overstate my reliance upon the term, ignore the nuances that the two instances of the phrase are surrounded by, impose arbitrary criteria for how connotative definitions can be applied and yeah…I suppose it is lazy writing. Or… I could just wish you well in your trolling endeavors. #gooddaysir

          • ccseifert

            How am I overstating your reliance on the term when it’s literally the thesis of your analysis?

            Our differences of opinion on this particular topic aside, the end of your column asks people for their views on the subject you just wrote about. If your plan is to dismiss the comments of people who disagree with you and call them trolls, then why bother asking in the first place? If you just want an echo chamber, just put it out there.

            In the past, AA hasn’t been about that but if it is now, I’ll be happy to look elsewhere for Chiefs news.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            You have every right to be reductive in your view. You have every right to be disagreeable. I’m but one writer on this staff though so don’t make a martyr of yourself and project that onto the entire site. We’re talking about football here not institutionalized racism in America. It’s not that serious. We can agree to disagree and keep the line moving.

      • chief ken

        No must win Game is one that keeps me from jumping off a bridge, however I did Survive. 8 must wins last year. GOOOOO CHIEFS

  • kcpauly

    I too think this is a must win game, we need to come out and set the pace for this season

  • ArrowFan

    I would say that 99.999% of us have them winning this game, so it is a must win.

  • Danny W

    It’s going to be nice to finally get the season back that’s for sure. I think it’s a really crucial to get a win and start out fast would be paramount.

  • chief ken

    Any CHIEFS FANS in Arizona Need to know about Club Rock at 8005 E. Roosevelt in Scottsdale AZ. It’s the only bar I’ve found in metro Phoenix that is full on barCHIEFS only

  • oldchiefsfan

    I just want to get this going and get the bad taste out of my mouth from the last couple of seasons. I want to see this team for a whole game when it matters. I think it is as much of a must win as any game. I want a win and I think Chief’s fans really need a win.I was at the last pre-season game and the crowd WANTS to get loud and it seemed we were all just waiting for a reason to start that stadium rumbling again. If we can get a win in Jacksonville Arrowhead will be back to it’s old self for the Cowboys game.

    I am just so ready for this season!!! I want my Chiefs back and I want to have a reasonable expectation that we can win on any given week. We have missed that for a few seasons now.
    Oh and I really want Alex Smith to be the QB we all want him to be!

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