Entering the season, there was no team more exciting than the Kansas City Chiefs. Led by the reigning MVP and the best offense in the NFL the Chiefs dominated headlines and were a must watch product across the country.
Through the first month of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs lived up to the hype, putting on a show every time they had the chance. When the calendar flipped to October, however, the nightmare began.
Injuries, poor play, and untimely turnovers struck Kansas City at every moment, driving down their record and with it, the Chiefs became the forgotten team in the NFL, fading to new stories like Baltimore and San Francisco.
Entering last Sunday against Oakland, the Chiefs were primed to reemerge. They were playing a game for first place in the AFC West that was on TV almost everywhere in the country. Despite a tepid offensive showing, the Chiefs did everything they were supposed to, dominating the Raiders and shattering any hopes they had at the playoffs.
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Even with that strong showing, however, the Chiefs have been mostly ignored in the media for other teams like the Ravens and Titans. This shouldn’t be a cause for concern though, an even better opportunity is about to present itself.
While the Kansas City Chiefs spent the first half of season battling an endless line of playoff hopefuls, the New England Patriots spent their fall bullying the league’s bottom feeders.
To those in Kansas City, this seemed about right. The team that only beat the Chiefs in the playoffs with an offsides and coin flip now gets an easy schedule as the media fawns all over them.
Slowly, but surely, the cracks have started to emerge in the Patriots dynasty. Injuries have eroded the Patriots offense and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady is looking a little more mortal than he did even a year ago.
Even the defense, one that was once called one of the greatest ever, has struggled on multiple occasions against other AFC rivals. Now on national television, the Chiefs get their chance to do more than get revenge on the Patriots, but reemerge as a national story.
For the Chiefs, this game holds massive implications.
This is a must win game if the Chiefs have any hope of getting a bye. Even if that dream is out of reach, the Chiefs still need help to pass the Texans and get the three seed.
While the Chiefs battle the Pats, the Texans get a defacto bye against the hapless Broncos. A Chiefs loss and a Texans win would put them a game and a half behind, thanks to the tiebreaker. Even with two games against the suddenly dominant Titans, that’s still a large gap for the Chiefs to climb in one month.
A win this week though would give the Chiefs a very clear shot a 12-4 with nothing but bad teams to end the year.
Beyond just seeding though this represents a test the Chiefs need to pass. The other two top teams in the AFC have handled the Patriots in their match-ups jumping out early and not looking back.
For Kansas City to be put back in that top conversation, they need to show they can do the same. Maybe most importantly though, this week is a hurdle that the Chiefs must get over if they want to end the year in Miami.
The Ravens might be the new favorites and the Texans might have beaten the Chiefs earlier in the year, but if one is being honest, the greatest threat is still the Patriots. The Ravens MVP caliber quarterback still struggles to be consistent in the pocket and the Texans defense might be weaker than the Chiefs’ defensive unit.
The Patriots, on the other hand are the Patriots. Every year they find a way to put it together and make a deep run usually going into February. Standing in front of the Chiefs is a chance to exorcise their demons and silence the Patriots.
Entering this year, we all believed that the Kansas City Chiefs were a Super Bowl contender. Despite all the drama and disappointment this season has brought, the Chiefs have a chance to prove they are right at that spot.
This is the chance for the Chiefs to go into New England, play in front of a hostile crowd, and prove they belong at the top. So can Kansas City do it? Can they stay healthy, not make mistakes, and play their best on both sides?
I don’t think anyone knows that answer, but we’re going to find out Sunday in Foxborough.