Chiefs Kingdom's reminder: Ugly wins unite NFL's top teams

Sometimes, a victory doesn't feel like one. The article looks at Chiefs Kingdom's dissatisfaction with less-than-perfect victories and how it reflects the complexities and challenges of winning in the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers v Cleveland Browns
San Francisco 49ers v Cleveland Browns / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

It's easy to forget how difficult winning is meant to be in the National Football League.

When it comes to the Kansas City Chiefs, the last decade has created an expectation of weekly victories culminating in long postseason runs, year after year. Playoff tailgates are expected at Arrowhead Stadium on more than one weekend in January as fans have perfected their mid-winter grill set-ups. That's what happens when Andy Reid is your head coach and Patrick Mahomes is your quarterback.

But it's funny how quickly we forget that not all wins look alike. In fact, many of them look like losses—or at least that's what you'd think when listening to fans criticize the team after a close victory.

At least once a year, Chiefs Kingdom should realize the team will lay a complete egg on the schedule. The Indianapolis Colts' game from a year ago should ring a bell. The season-opening loss to the Detroit Lions looked like this year's version. These are games in which the Chiefs might win or lose, but ultimately it becomes a comedy of errors on both sides of the ball—turnovers, penalties, miscues, overthrows, drops, odd play calls.

Sometimes, a victory doesn't feel like one but it doesn't need to, and that's something Chiefs Kingdom would do well to remember week to week.

Beyond that, there are too-close-for-comfort games given the talent differential on paper. Last year the Broncos were within a single score both times despite being a last place team. Zach Wilson looked like Aaron Rodgers against the Chiefs despite their defense making the leap to an elite unit this season. You get the idea. After such games, fans are seemingly unhappy with the victory itself. They want it to feel like a win, too.

But here's the rub that we all forget, so we'll say it again: winning is difficult in the NFL. Every team plays down to some opponents. Every franchise lays that egg. Every owner scratches his head at the on-field product at times. Even superstars have a frustrating day at the office.

This is important to bring up because the two teams largely placed in front of the Chiefs and everyone else in any NFL Power Rankings both lost in Week 6—and they weren't exactly playing another powerhouse. The San Francisco 49ers lost to the Cleveland Browns, who were playing P.J. Walker under center with Deshaun Watson out. Then those same pesky Jets got the best of the Philadelphia Eagles.

This isn't to knock the Niners or the Eagles. They're still first-place teams with first-rate talent. It's just that they're not immune to the overall difficulties of winning in the NFL week after week. It's why the Dolphins ran into the buzzsaw of the Bills a week ago who, by the way, lost to the Jaguars who were beaten by the Chiefs who were defeated by the Lions who fell to the Seahawks who lost to the Bengals who were nearly shut out by the Titans who were whipped by the Colts who fell to the Rams who have lost to several teams we've already named. Again, you get the idea.

Basically, Chiefs Kingdom would do well (and I am very much including myself in this picture) to remember that winning is a beautiful thing and is far more difficult than it often appears and that what's on paper rarely matters. Ugly or not, a victory is the goal. If you can win points for style along the way, then more power to your favorite team.

Seeing the Niners and Eagles fall isn't a sign that something is wrong or that they aren't as talented as we thought. It's simply a reminder that ugly is common—far more than we'd like to admit.