It’s been three years since the Kansas City Chiefs began the NFL season 2-0. Sunday’s win over the Dallas Cowboys gives the team a share of 1st place in the AFC West (with the Denver Broncos). Unfortunately, a truncated week leaves Kansas City with little time to celebrate a great start to their 2013 campaign. The Chiefs will face the Philadelphia Eagles before a national television audience on “Thursday Night Football.” Week 3 could prove to be the biggest challenge of the young NFL season for the Chiefs.
Thursday’s matchup with the Eagles will be Kansas City’s third game in just eleven days. Monday and Tuesday will be regular workdays for the team. Having a short week to work with is one thing (the Philadelphia Eagles have the same three days to get ready for the game). It’s quite another thing to have to travel with only four days between games.
Beating a good football team last Sunday suggests that the new-look Chiefs are resilient. Winning this coming Thursday will require yet another intangible — mental toughness. Players are likely to be a bit more banged up than normal (due to having less recovery time). They’ll also have to contend with jetlag. The team is slated to depart for Philadelphia early Wednesday morning. The Chiefs are traveling east and “losing” time, so it may take a day for them to recover.
Adversity never calls ahead in the NFL. More often than not, it shows up on your doorstep unannounced. In Kansas City’s case, it could come in the form of their third regular season game. The Chiefs-Eagles contest will be the NFL center of attention on Thursday night. Is this football team ready for a high stakes road game? Their first road win came against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, who are currently averaging just 5.5 points per game. Philadelphia is at the other end of the league spectrum. The Eagles boast the 3rd-highest scoring offense in the NFL (31.5 points per game).
This game will reveal the mental makeup of this football team. Elite teams in the NFL handle adversity. The Chiefs proved they can win a big game when they held the Cowboys off to secure their second win of the season. Kansas City will now need to prove they can win a big game, on an even bigger stage, without the help of their “12th man.”
The Chiefs don’t want a repeat of their last nationally televised game (a 2012 road loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers). Kansas City wasted a stellar defensive effort that night by posting a mere 290 yards of total offense and just 13 points. I’m sure they’d also like to forget their last TNF appearance where they were routed by the Chargers (another 13-point scoring effort). Chip Kelly’s Eagles have scored 30 or more points in each of their last two games. Offensive ineptitude on Thursday figures to make winning a third straight game unlikely for the Chiefs.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of all this week will come for head coach Andy Reid. He’ll return to Lincoln Financial Field to face the only other NFL team he’s ever known. Reid received the ouster from Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie immediately following the 2012 season. I can only imagine how difficult it will be for him to call the shots from the opposite sideline. The Chiefs need Reid to be sharp. He’s wearing two hats, the most important of which is being at the helm of this new offense.
Road teams won only five of thirteen Thursday night games in 2012. Each of the those teams played a game the previous week (just four days prior). Of those five teams, three of them would go on to qualify for the NFL playoffs (Denver, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis). I think that says something significant about the dividends that being mentally tough can pay in this league.
Are the Kansas City Chiefs the strong-willed bunch that Thursday night’s stage won’t prove too big for? Will a short week of preparation followed by a travel day sap the team’s focus? The Chiefs have proven they can execute. Come Tuesday of next week, we’ll also know if they’re ready to answer the bell, above the shoulder pads, despite unfavorable conditions in a given week.
Here’s your chance to answer those two questions now. Feel free to use the comments section below to weigh in. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.
Until next time, Addicts!