Football is back. You’ve heard it all week on everything from Arrowhead Addict to the NFL Network. The preseason is over and football is back. As has been tradition for the last few years, the opening game of the year is Sunday Night Football on Thursday night. It features the previous year’s Super Bowl champs against a high profile opponent. The only difference this year is that the home team is the “high profile opponent,” not the reigning champs. Thanks to a scheduling conflict with fellow Baltimore team, the Orioles, the Ravens open their quest to repeat on the road in dreaded “donkey country” against the Denver Broncos.
So, Addicts, why should we care about tonight’s game, beyond the obvious fact that it’s the first real football played since the night the lights went out in New Orleans?
Because, believe it or not, the Kansas City Chiefs have a legitimate shot to come out of opening weekend in the lead of the AFC West.
Let me give you a chance to let that sink in.
Yes, you read that right.
Are the Broncos the team to beat this season in the AFC? Yes, I still think they are. However, they’re going up against the defending NFL champs. And, they’re doing it without their best defensive player – dare I say the heart of their defense – Von Miller who was suspended for six games for a repeat violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Add to that, they’re playing without their second best defensive player, Elvis Dumerville, who was released in the off season due to the most ridiculous technological faux pas anyone could imagine. Faced with a deadline to restructure his contract or be cut, Dumerville’s agent couldn’t figure out the 1993 tech of a fax machine and flubbed getting the signed contract into the Bronco’s head office in time. Of course, this led to John Elway cutting the defensive star, who then signed with the Ravens and will be coming after Peyton Manning tonight.
But, the Broncos aren’t the only other AFC West team playing this weekend. The Oakland Raiders – who aren’t really sure who their quarterback for the season is – face the Indianapolis Colts – who know who their quarterback is for the next decade. If you think the Raiders have a snowball’s chance in hell at beating the Colts, you might be dipping into a little of what got Miller suspended.
The AFC West matchup this weekend is the final game of opening “weekend,” and that’s the San Diego Chargers against the Houston Texans. The Texans are an all around better team, and I look forward to watching J.J. Watt terrorize Phillip Rivers to the point he curls into the fetal position and starts sucking his thumb.
But, I digress.
The Raiders don’t have a chance and neither do the Chargers. The Broncos are good and Manning and his offense can put up the points. But, the Broncos are able to win when the defense is good enough to stop the other team from keeping pace during the “score-fest.” Without the aforementioned Miller and Dumerville, I don’t think that’s going to happen. You add to that the fact that the Broncos pro bowl cornerback, Champ Bailey, will also be out tonight with a foot injury, and you lessen the chance the Broncos have to get redemption against the team that beat them for the “Lamar Hunt Trophy” last season.
Am I saying that if the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders lose that the Chiefs are going to walk home with the AFC West crown? If that’s what you got from this, I need to reassess my future as a writer because I obviously can’t make myself clear.
I said the Broncos are the team to beat in the AFC and I still think that.
But– having a taste of being in first place would be sweet for a team that didn’t even smell the backside of third place all last season.
If the Chiefs can start fast and the other three AFC West teams can stumble coming out of the gate, they might just have the chance to turn some heads this season.
But either way, tonight is much more than “just a football game.”
Enjoy, Addicts! And go Ravens…errr…I mean, Chiefs!