You may not want to hear it but there is a distinct possibility that the Kansas City Chiefs will not win another game this season.
The though occurred to me during the third quarter of the Chiefs’ 56-31 thrashing of the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. I had just watched the Raiders score three unanswered touchdowns on the once considered “elite” Chiefs defense.
I turned to my dog Zelda, who is experiencing her first Chiefs season in the Allen house. She was the only other living being in the room. My wife was barricaded in the bedroom wrapping Christmas presents.
“These guys are in serious trouble,” I said. “I don’t think they’re going to lose this game but this crap isn’t going to fly against decent teams. I am worried they might not win another game.”
Zelda’s indifference to my concern is likely to be the kindest response I will get to this theory. You see, I wrote for this site daily for over three years. I know the kind of passion Chiefs fans bring loving their team. Doubting the good guys is high treason, punishable by internet comments of “you’re an idiot” and “go cheer for the Raiders, then” and even sometimes the ever-ironic “your and idiot.”
Perhaps years of heartbreak has me jaded. Perhaps, as a die-hard fan it is my duty to give the boys in red the benefit of the doubt. Fans believe in their teams, isn’t that how it works?
The problem is, I am more than just a Chiefs fan. I’m also the managing editor of this site and that means that some people spend a good amount of their free time on this site paying no good money to hear my opinion on the team so they can tell me I’m wrong. I know I’m going to get torn apart for even suggesting this. I’ve seen the kind of comments poor Adam Teicher gets over at ESPN.com and all of his comments are usually right on the money. The problem is, Teicher points out the obvious flaws that Chiefs fans don’t want to hear and they eviscerate him for it.
Will the Chiefs win another game this season?
I believe it is a fair question. The Chiefs just recently lost three games in a row. Two of those games were to the playoff-bound Denver Broncos and the other was to the inconsistent, yet talented, San Diego Chargers.
The Chiefs are only guaranteed three more games this season. They get the playoff-bound Indianapolis Colts next week, the inconsistent, yet talented, San Diego Chargers in the regular season finale and then, more than likely, they’ll meet the Colts again in the first round of the playoffs.
For the first nine games of the season, I defended the Chiefs against their detractors. Despite the fact that the team had played an incredibly light schedule against a slew of backup Qbs and even backup QB’s backups, I maintained that what mattered was that the Chiefs were finding a way to win, which is something all good teams do. The real feather in the cap of my argument, was that although the Chiefs had been struggling on offense, the team featured what appeared to be sporting a championship caliber defense.
And the Chiefs did have a championship caliber defense…until they played an actual championship contender.
I feel I should interrupt this ramble for a reality check. The Kansas City Chiefs are a very good football team. Winning 11 games in the NFL is really, really hard. KC has a good QB, a terrific running back and an excellent head coach. Those three things, combined with a pretty talented roster, is good enough to help the Chiefs beat the NFL’s worst and the NFL’s mediocre.
So far, however, it hasn’t been good enough for the Chiefs to beat the NFL’s best.
The Chiefs don’t have a signature win. Their best wins of the season came against a Cowboys team that is an 8-8 squad that can’t get out of its own way and an Eagles team that at the time of the game, was being led by a totally different QB.
Through the first nine games, the Chiefs’ defensive weaknesses were slowly exposed. KC’s aggressive scheme allows for huge plays down the field. Case Keenum, Jeff Tuel and Jason Campbell all made big plays against the Chiefs. As the weeks went by, the formula to beat the Chiefs’ D became clear:
1. Get the ball out quickly
2. Throw it deep and throw it deep often
3. Pick on the rookie
Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers did just that and sent the Chiefs on a three-game losing streak that likely cost them the AFC West.
After the Chiefs beat the Washington Redskins 45-10, I started reading articles about a “revived” Chiefs defense. Folks saw the fact that KC only gave up 10 points and sacked RG3 and Kirk Cousins six times as proof that the Chiefs dense was back.
I never bought that. The “resurgence” had more to do with the fact that the Redskins are a dumpster fire posing as a football team than it did with the KC defense fixing their issues.
The last two games against the Redskins and Raiders reminded me an awful lot of the Chiefs’ December 26, 2010 victory over the Tennessee Titans. The easy win was KC’s tenth victory of the season and it ended up being the win that clinched the AFC West for the then Todd Haley-led squad. QB Matt Cassel has probably his best game as a Chief, shredding the Titans secondary to the tune of 314 yards and three touchdowns. Dwayne Bowe had a monster day too, snagging six passes for 153 yards and a TD. The Chiefs looked prime for the playoffs.
They never won another game.
Just like the 2010 Titans, the 2013 Redskins and Raiders are finished and their playing like it. The holidays are right around the corner and while some teams around the league with nothing to play for are playing like they’re in the playoff hunt (see the Matt Cassel-led Vikings), other also-rans are clearly throwing in the towel. It happens every season.
The fact that Washington and Oakland are a mess doesn’t take away from what the Chiefs have accomplished this season. They’ve engineered one of the most remarkable turnarounds in NFL history. The entire organization, from Clark Hunt all the way down to the hot dog vendors, should be incredibly proud.
And so should the fans.
But that doesn’t mean the Chiefs are going to do damage in the postseason.
The Chiefs defense is struggling mightily. They looked absolutely horrid at times on Sunday and don’t let the fact that they picked off rookie QB Matt McCloin four times trick you into believing that it was a good day for Bob Sutton’s crew. The Chiefs gave up 331 yards passing, 130 yards rushing and 31 points to the Raiders. They recorded zero sacks. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Oakland defense absolutely refused to chase Jamaal Charles with any sense of urgency, the Chiefs very well might had lost the game.
If the Chiefs give Andrew Luck seven seconds to throw in the pocket next week, like they did to McCloin on one occasion, he isn’t going to stand there and calmly throw the ball to Frank Zombo.
The San Diego Chargers are not going to play so poorly as to allow the Chiefs to run the exact same screen play to Jamaal Charles over and over with the same result.
And in the playoffs, if the Chiefs defense plays like they have since the Bye Week, the KC offense had better keep finding ways to score 56 points a game.
I realize this all sounds rather harsh. It hasn’t all been bad for the Chiefs since the Bye. The offense seems to have found its footing. The special teams continue to be extremely dangerous. The team has managed to stay mostly healthy and Branden Albert, Justin Houston and Anthony Fasano all should be back in time for the playoffs. Heck, the Chiefs even still have a shot (albeit a small one) to win the AFC West should Denver stumble against Houston or Oakland. If the Chiefs can put it all together, 2013-2014 could absolutely be the year they break their long and embarrassing playoff losing streak.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs have failed their three most important tests this season and until they show they can beat the big boys, they’re going to continue to have to face the doubters.
Kansas City have two excellent opportunities to show it is for real in the coming weeks. Next week’s contest agains the Colts is likely a warmup game agains their future playoff opponent. The Chiefs can erase a lot of bad playoff memories by finally enacting revenge against the team that has caused them so much postseason heartbreak over the years.
In the season finale, the Chiefs get another chance to go up against Chargers QB Philip Rivers. The KC defense didn’t have an answer for the San Diego passing attack a few weeks ago. Taking down the Bolts out in California in Week 17 will be a great way for the Chiefs to show the NFL that their defense is ready to face playoff QBs.
The Chiefs have a real chance to accomplish something very special in the playoffs…but first they have to grow up. It is time for Andy Reid’s team to go from a cute story to a legitimate Super Bowl threat. They failed to do it during their three game losing streak. Thankfully, they get another chance to prove themselves in their next three games.
Hope for the best, Chiefs fans.
But prepare for the worst.