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October 25, 2004

What To Think? « Kansas City Chiefs »

I really don't know what to think about the Chiefs right now.

I had written off their season after the loss to the Jaguars. I was all set to write a piece titled, "Kansas City just isn't that good this year." I was going to go from there and talk about how despite all the criticism for KC not improving their defense, it was the offense that was losing games for KC, that despite the doubts and naysayers, the addition of Gunther Cunningham and the development of players from within was enough, because the defense was doing fine and improving every week.

The Ravens game seemed to bring it all together. The offense stopped trying to be so cute and really started to kick butt. We still missed Kris Wilson and Mark Boerigter on offense, but Jason Dunn and Chris Horn looked like they could do nearly the same thing. I was waiting for a win against the Jaguars before giving in to hope and thinking maybe the Chiefs could make the playoffs. It didn't happen, and the way it happened was both bad and good for the Chiefs. Good, because Leftwich is probably going to be one of the greats, showing John Elway levels of ability, strength of character, and comeback talent, so, no shame, right? Bad, because the offense could have iced the game with a first down, but they didn't. Losing like that isn't good for a team that started the season with Superbowl aspirations and now must scramble to make the playoffs.

But now, arguably the two best offensive performances of the season were both turned in by Kansas City, and one of the best defensive performances was also given by the Chiefs this last week. It took some time, but this was the defense we expected KC to have with Gunther in charge. Can mediocre-to-bad players absolutely shut down Michael Vick?!? Of course not. This is a good defense with good players.

But have they arrived?

Has the offense arrived?

I thought so after they dominated the Ravens defense, but they didn't show it against the Jaguars.

So what to think?

I guess I think Kansas City let too many games get away from them. They could have won any of the four games they lost this year. They led and were in control at some point in the second half of each of the games, but let them all slip away. There's reason for each, perhaps.
Denver: It was in the Mile-High Zone, and the refs refused to call a Defensive Pass Interference call on any of the muggings. But I hang the loss on Vermeil for not keeping Chris Horn on the roster for the opener. We were simply undermanned at the WR position. One extra WR and we might still have pulled it out.
Carolina: The turning point was clearly when Delhomme flung up a prayer while being thrown to the turf, a toss that usually gets intercepted, a toss that usually only Denver QBs get lucky enough to complete...and it went for a touchdown. But I still don't think there's much shame to lose to a team that contended in the Superbowl only a few games before.
Texas: David Carr is going to be one of the greats, also, just like Byron Leftwich. Kansas City should have been able to put it away, and didn't. We could have taken it out of Texas' (and Jacksonville's) hands, but didn't. But you have to hand it to those QBs, they are good.

As such, those four losses could be 4 of the 5 toughest games KC plays in all year. Looking at the schedule, the only teams that look to match up so well against KC are the Patriots and the Colts, and we should be able to win at least one of the very least, if we have any hope of winning a playoff game, we'll have to prove it by winning one or both.

And if the true Kansas City Chiefs team is the one we saw this week against Atlanta, well, then they have an outside chance of sweeping the rest of the season. And that would be what it would take to have a chance for home-field advantage, or to convince me we could be the favorite to make/win the Superbowl.

At this point, however, I'd be satisfied with a strong 9- or 10-win season, I'd be happy with a blow-out win over Denver at the end of the season, and I'd be ecstatic if we overtook the Broncos and won the Division. Going deep into the playoffs would just be icing.

So. Will they reach any of those hopes? We'll have to see, and the first test will be to see how they react to such a dominant win. If they become overconfident and lose another close game, that says something. If they get it done, that says something else. I really hope KC has learned to win the close battles, but at this point I have no such confidence. We'll see.

Posted by Nathan at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)
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