So, are the Kansas City Chiefs Good Again?
Nov 15, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Ron Parker (38) celebrates after intercepting a pass during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Chiefs won 29-13. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The Kansas City Chiefs have played five games rather poorly, and four games very well.
That is not particularly headline worthy news. Or at least it would not be if it had not happened in such an odd manner.
After a strong first week showing in Houston, we were pretty sure this team had turned the corner. After five straight weeks where they did almost everything humanly possible to find a way to lose, we were pretty sure that these Chiefs were going to be picking at the top of the draft. And then everything changed again.
There has been so much let down in the history of this franchise that a win against a diminished, but still respectable Steelers team was nice but did not do too much to dispel skepticism. A complete pounding of the Lions raised a few more eyebrows. But it was also the Lions – a team who sits at 2-7 and has looked like they deserve that record during this season. The real test was coming this past weekend in the rematch against the Broncos.
And boy, did K.C. ever pass that test with flying colors. I mean, just look at the boxscore from pro-football-reference.com. Near the top of the page you will see a win probability indicator. And you will notice that Denver entered the second half of the game with a win probability of almost zero. Yes, by the time we got to the half, the game was practically over. By the time we made it to the third quarter, the broncos were still scoreless and Peyton Manning was well on his way to being benched after a five completion and four interception performance.
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It was an awesome thing to behold. And I bet it would be pretty hard to find a Chiefs an who was not grinning from ear to ear at finally defeating Manning. And in such a relentlessly dominant fashion on his own home field. And it certainly was nice to have a much more realistic shot at the playoffs now that Kansas City is only a game under .500.
But all this brings me back to the titular question of this article: So, are the Kansas City Chiefs good again?
We thought they were worth the hype after Week 1. Have they earned it now?
I desperately want to believe the answer is yes. And it makes sense. During that horrific five game losing streak I wrote multiple times that the Chiefs had way too much talent to have played like they did. And I was certainly not alone in that sentiment. K.C. had too many returning pieces, and too many improvements from last year to have that kind of implosion this season.
After all, three of those five losses were against teams that were undefeated until well into the season (and the Bengals just had their first lost on Monday night). The others were a hangover from the fumble fest in Week 2. So the real Chiefs, the good team we all expected before the season kicked off, have finally come back out to finish the year strong and get back in the post-season.
Hopefully, the truth is what Justin Houston and Jeremy Maclin alluded to after the last Sunday’s win in the Mile High city: the heart breaking way that the first game against Denver ended destroyed the Chiefs’ momentum for the month that followed.
At least, that is one narrative. And the one we all hope is accurate. Based on the quality of K.C.’s remaining schedule, that narrative may well play out. Over their last seven games, Kansas City plays five different teams. Those teams have combined for a less than stellar record of 15-31. The only team above .500 is Buffalo, sitting at 5-4. And when the Chiefs and Bills face off in a couple of weeks, it could very well be for a Wild Card slot.
So if you want to get excited about this team, now is a good time. As Lyle Graverson put it earlier this week, you might as well go all in on 2015.
The only problem is that I feel like I have seen this story before. Higher preseason expectations, followed by an underperforming start to the year, and then leading into an incredible mid-season resurgence and winning streak. If that sounds really familiar it is because it was how the Chiefs started the first nine games of last season too. Only instead of having a five game losing streak to make up, they were four games into a five game winning streak after Week 10. And then the wheels fell off and they dropped four of their last seven games.
Now, K.C. faced off against six different teams over those last seven games in 2014, and five of them had winning records. Four ended up in the playoffs. And one ended up almost winning the Super Bowl. So comparing the last seven games of last year and this year is not exactly comparing apples to apples. At the same time, Kansas City’s winning streak was snapped by the worst team in that stretch of schedule – a Raiders team that was winless to that point and ended the season with the fourth overall pick in the draft.
So while I am ecstatic that these Chiefs have redeemed at least part of their season, beating the pants off Manning and the Broncos, and still have a shot at making the playoffs, I am not ready to say my beloved team has turned the page just yet.
Here’s hoping my skepticism is completely unfounded.