KC Chiefs, Texans meet from opposite ends of competitive spectrum

Sep 10, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) takes a snap during the first half against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 10, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) takes a snap during the first half against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chiefs and Texans could technically be further apart in the overall AFC standings, but they could not be further apart in franchise development. 

Think back to 2012. What were you doing back then? If you’re like me, you were probably jamming out to “We are Young” by Fun., voting Barack Obama into his second term in the White House, or LOLing at the cinematic remake of 21 Jump Street with Channing Tatum (he was so hot then) and Jonah Hill. If you’re not like me, you were likely all in on the One Direction invasion of the U.S., Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and the dance that accompanied it, the evolution of 50 Shades of Grey from novel to on-screen steam session, or Carly Rae Jepson’s Library of Congress-worthy smash hit “Call Me Maybe.”

No matter where you were or what you enjoyed, you had to have your finger on the pulse of the Mayan calendar. 2012 was the first “oh man, the world might end this year” year—at least of my lifetime. Of course, there have been doomsday estimators all throughout the course of history, but the mystique that the Mayans possessed with their calendars chiseled into adobe stone proclaiming the end of the world as we know it—even if we didn’t know how it would end—brought at least a minor sense of gloom and doom to most in the year 2012, and it was assisted greatly by the very creatively named John Cusack cinematic thriller 2012. It even spurred one of the greatest parties I’ve ever hosted in my life: the first and last annual “End of the World Ugly Sweater Christmas Bonanza.”

There was no place on the planet, outside of the landmarks that today represent the Mayan ruins, where the end of the world seemed more imminent than in Chiefs Kingdom. Woof. 2-12, We thought it couldn’t get any worse than drafting Jonathan Baldwin in 2011, but it certainly did.  Matt Cassel showing us who he truly was, Todd Haley bowing out with a sense of remarkable disgrace, and Romeo Crennel handling the fallout of a dumpster fire nestled next to a train wreck in the middle of a shitstorm. The most unforgettable moments from that season truly weren’t football related. It was an unspeakable tragedy, but there’s no need to spend too much time dwelling in the past.

It felt like the light at the end of the tunnel would never appear and that the franchise was actually falling down a well rather than finding its way in an NFL that seemed to be progressing around it and in spite of it. The league itself was flourishing with the beginning of Tom Brady’s second act, the greatness of Aaron Rodgers, and the arrival of Peyton Manning in Denver. Meanwhile, the Chiefs were mired in mediocrity—or worse.

Sure, a playoff appearance in 2010 aroused the senses, but what did that ultimately matter? We had an interim coach; the top draft pick (while in desperate need of a quarterback) in a draft where the top 3 QB prospects were EJ Manuel, Geno Smith, and Mike Glennon; and a general manager who had worn out his welcome and lost his luster away from the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium and the incubator provided by a Bill Belichick-ran franchise.

It’s always darkest before the dawn, though, and as we sit here today on a forced reminder of what could have been a permanently damaging period in Chiefs’ history, we rejoice as our first savior Andy Reid was delivered shortly after the conclusion of this nightmare 2-12 season. Then the sherpa to our second savior, Patrick Mahomes, in Alex Smith was delivered not long after. We all know where the Chiefs stand now—the class of the AFC and bordering on dynastic levels of franchise achievement—but we can’t forget where we came from. Where we were is very close to where the Houston Texans currently are.

When the Chiefs square off with the Texans in Houston on Sunday, we have to keep in mind what their fan base is going through. Trotting out a squad with Lovie Smith (an aging defensive coach) with Davis Mills at the helm (not the QB they want, nor the QB they will move into the future with) has to conjure up memories of Chiefs Kingdom past. The lowly Texans enter this weekend at a 1-11-1. The second-best moment of their season was a tie with the 4-8-1 Colts, which I guess they technically have over the Chiefs. Their only win sported only 19 combined points in a 13-6 affair with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, enter at 10-3 tied for the best record in the AFC and firmly in contention for the AFC’s top seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Should the Chiefs win this game? Absolutely. The only question here should be if they cover the 14-point spread or not. The Chiefs are better on both sides of the football and at nearly every single position in this game. That doesn’t mean the Texans will lay down and just take it, but it does represent one of the greatest disparities in current season performance that has occurred thus far in the 2022 NFL season. The Texans were the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention, while the Chiefs will likely clinch their seventh consecutive division crown this week while in the process of attempting to host their record-setting fifth consecutive AFC Championship game. They would break the previous record of 4 consecutive by, oh yeah, these Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs and Texans share quite a bit of history—franchise-altering history. The Chiefs traveled to Houston in 2016 and came out with a 30-0 win in the Wild Card round, their first playoff victory in 22 years. The following draft the Chiefs traded up to the tenth spot to select not Clemson’s Deshaun Watson but Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. Watson went two picks later to, you guessed it, the Houston Texans. Three years later in January of 2020—coincidentally another year that seemed like the end of the world—the Chiefs came back from a 24-0 first-half deficit to defeat the Texans in the Divisional Round of the playoffs at Arrowhead Stadium by a score of 51-31 en route to their first Super Bowl championship in 50 years.

But just like things turned around on a dime for the Chiefs, they can do the same for the Texans. Sure Houston may not have the best hand dealt to them now after the dramatic exit of the aforementioned Watson. Yeah, they may be working against the grain with their current QB/head coach combo. These things can change suddenly and drastically as we have seen before. But for now, the distinct and defined advantage in Sunday’s matchup lies with the Chiefs, who stand at or near the top of football’s highest peak from a formidability standpoint. While Houston currently resides in its valley, it only takes a little direction and a couple of good decisions to start the climb and scale it quickly.

Next. Why we want a Chiefs-Eagles Super Bowl. dark