Pretty much whenever it comes to Kansas City fans and me, it hasn’t been a pleasant history. I don’t know why. Getting into hotly arguments with Royals fans over 10 years ago to arguing about how I can’t consider the Chiefs a legit Super Bowl contender over the past few seasons because of their holes on parts of the team and the whole “playoff futility” factor that has dated back to the mid 90’s or wasn’t high on Patrick Mahomes (yes, I was way wrong on that one), for some reason I bring out the “best” in Kansas City fans.
So needless to say, this post may not be an olive branch.
The Chiefs this year really proved me wrong in a lot of ways, notably through Mahomes who is a legit MVP candidate and perhaps the favorite to win it and I wouldn’t argue with the decision if he was (though right now his three losses were to the cream of the NFL-Rams, Patriots, Chargers…so it is somewhat of the Aaron Rodgers conundrum of not beating the top quarterbacks in the NFL). The offense is fun and exciting. Tyreek Hill is one of my favorite players to watch on TV and probably the most underrated receiver in all of football. Travis Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the game.
Did they hit their peak too early?
The history is there….recent and the past 20 years. In what feels like a same old song and dance, we see Kansas City jump to a hot start in the season, going 8-1, 9-1 10-2, etc. ending up 13-3, getting homefield throughout the playoffs or at least a bye, and then losing to a team really has no business being there (Colts in 1995, Steelers in 16, Titans last year).
But one thing I come back to is when the Chiefs get off to that red hot start, near the end, there is always “that loss” or that “small run” you go “how?” The Chiefs in 95 were 10-1 and then lost to Dallas and Miami in a three game window where they only mustered 18 total points in those games to where the Colts kept them to only 7 points in the Playoff. Or in 2003 when KC started off 9-0, but finished 4-3 with the final two losses (Denver, Minnesota) being games where the defense was shredded all over the place only for Peyton Manning to break out of his playoff woes. Or even in 2016 when the Chiefs took a rare home L to the Titans, where they could only put up 17 points and allowed nearly 400 yards; Pittsburgh a few weeks later followed suit by keeping the Chiefs to 16 points and shutting down all aspects of the Kansas City offense while the defense couldn’t get that needed stop. Or last year with the inexplicable losses to the Giants and Jets where they faced off against a depleted Giants squad but somehow couldn’t punch it in or a offensively-challenged Jets squad and gave up nearly 500 yards of total offense. And then Kansas City blows a 21-3 lead at home to the Titans in the Wild Card round.
This year we have seen an exciting Chiefs offense which prior to the Chargers game Thursday was one of the best in the NFL. And I honestly thought despite the defensive hiccups, Kansas City has a great pass rush that could really cover up some deficiencies in the secondary. However, in the NFL today, if your secondary is subpar, you won’t stand a chance. And while Eric Berry returning is a big jolt, it is still not enough to offset the Chiefs struggles on defense.
The one thing that differs from prior years of the Chiefs playoff woes is at quarterback. Mahomes is an MVP candidate-and a favorite (and despite the loss, I thought he played pretty well; it was just he wasn’t able to make those huge plays). It’s a different take than when Kansas City had the likes of Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac, Trent Green, and Alex Smith. All of those quarterbacks were fine and more than serviceable, but they weren’t that quarterback you felt when the game was on the line could take over like Elway did, Manning did, etc. Mahomes so far in his career hasn’t shown if he can, though the Ravens game was a “maybe it’s different this time” mentality for fans.
Kansas City has been snakebit/cursed with their football team since the mid-90’s. They are known as one of the best regular season teams and have held two great regular season winning coaches in Marty Schottenheimer and now Andy Reid (who is battling his own playoff demons). The first reaction I had to their loss to the Chargers is, “did they finally hit their peak and from now until the end of January will they be in free-fall mode?” The defense is suspect and the running game without Kareem Hunt who was released by the team for an off-field altercation really has soured the chances. Kansas City’s best hope now is to keep the Chargers off their backs as they go to Seattle for a big game before returning back home to the hated Raiders. But it has that feel of “here we go again” to Kansas City.”
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat