We Are Who We Thought We Were

Not Anchorman. Well that escalated quickly.

Just when you thought it was safe to explain to innocent bystanders exactly who the Chiefs are Sunday happened. I don’t know about you but the team I expected to show up Sunday against Oakland was not the one that did. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing one bit – a win is a win is a win. And while I expected a win (it is the Raiders, after all) I did not expect the Chiefs to completely embarrass Oakland the way they did…mostly because I didn’t think they could.

Oakland is not a bad team.

Dang – I _almost_ said that with a straight face. Let me try it a different way.

Oakland has some talent on their team, and while their chances of winning the game were about as good as the chances of me winning the Mega Millions jackpot this week they’re still a professional football team (as opposed to, say, the Houston Texans). I expected a hard-fought battle to ensue, with a score that totalled somewhere in the 30s or maybe low 40s. Something like 23-10 or 27-14 or something like that. Heck, the over/under on the game was sitting between 41 and 42 on Wednesday, suggesting the majority of people who put money on games seemed to think this was going to be a low-scoring affair. So it wasn’t just me.

But that’s not what happened. At all. Instead of a down-and-dirty battle fought in the trenches with rushing yards highlighting the day Alex Smith and the Chiefs decided that rather than hand the ball off to the best back in the NFL they’d throw it to him. All day long.

Fool me once: shame on you. Fool me twice: shame on me. Fool me again and again and again (and again and again and…): call me the Raiders.

The Chiefs must have thrown a hundred screen passes to Jamal Charles (OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it felt like that many), and every other one he seemingly broke for a touchdown. First and 10? Let’s throw a screen pass for a score. Second and 3? That seems like a good time to add six points to the board. Third and 17? Sure, why not just pick up a few yards by doing a screen pass to JC? And by “a few yards” I mean “a touchdown”.

At some point the game almost bordered on boring – even my 10 year-old who doesn’t watch football could have called the outcome of the next play because it involved a touchdown for the Chiefs. If it weren’t the Chiefs playing I wouldn’t have even watched the entire second half; I would have made like the fans in the stands at the Washington game last week.

But that was last week.

This week brings a new challenge to Arrowhead. It’s time for Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts to head into the snow and wind here in KC and take on the Chiefs in what might be a preview of the first round of playoffs but regardless promises to be a good game. Luck’s not used to playing in the cold weather and he sure as hell isn’t accustomed to the Arrowhead crowd. It’s the last home game and at least at the time we kickoff we still have a shot at the division title (I recognize we’d have to win out and Denver has to lose to Houston or Oakland, but still – there’s technically a chance). It’s going to be C R A Z Y.

I’d really like to absolutely dominate this game, honestly, because I’m tired of hearing two things that I’ve been hearing for a couple of weeks (apparently even the national media overlooked the Raiders last week):
1. The Colts own the Chiefs, and
2. The Chiefs will win only because Reggie Wayne is out.

First, historically-speaking the Colts have pretty much owned the Chiefs for quite some time. That’s a fair statement and the record over the last several years reflects that. But projecting that into this game is a fallacy of the grandest scale because a) those teams had this guy named Peyton Manning running their offense, and b) neither of these teams is the same as they were even last year. So to suggest that teams in the past will win simply because they’ve always won is, well, stupid. If that were the case Pittsburgh wouldn’t be praying for divine intervention for a playoff spot, and the Houston Oilers wouldn’t be the Tennessee Titans.

The second one gets me more, though. The statement implies that if only Reggie Wayne were healthy and playing the Colts would win. “If only” is something you can apply to any game you watch. If only Tamba Hali wasn’t injured for the second half of the Chargers-Chiefs game. If only Justin Houston played against Denver at Arrowhead. If only Todd Haley were never the Chiefs’ head coach. If only, if only, if only.

Welcome to life in the freakin’ NFL. Stuff happens. People get injured. Balls bounce in odd ways (technically a football bounces in a predictable way based on the velocity at and angle of impact – which my buddy Paul who’s a math teacher would validate – but it requires a lot of thinking and when there are eleven 200+ pound guys with high velocity headed toward you seeking an impact you’d prefer to avoid, not much else really enters the thought process). The good teams are the ones that can take that stuff and make something of it – or at least minimize the damage from it. Vonn Miller makes a bad decision? You don’t see the Broncos using that as a crutch. Tom Brady loses Wes Welker? You don’t see him using that as an excuse to not win the division. Jacksonville has no talent? They’ve managed to win a few games even with that gap.

The NFL is a 21-week battle for supremacy. Life throws things into that blender just to see how you’ll respond, and you either do (and continue on) or you don’t (and go home). Is it wrong to wish that things didn’t happen the way they did? Not at all. I really did wish Justin Houston was healthy against Denver because I think it would have been a much different game. But he wasn’t and we didn’t compensate effectively and we lost. Period, plain and simple. There wasn’t an excuse heading in that Denver was only going to win because Houston was hurt – we still had every intention and belief we were going to show Peyton the Arrowhead stadium turf up close and personal and walk outwith a win, because this is the NFL.

But enough – I need to save my energy for the game this weekend. It’s going to be an absolutely incredibly time – and I can’t wait.


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