The halfway mark for this season is a sad point for Kansas City Chiefs fans.
This season hasn't been just bad; it's been demoralizing. The Chiefs brought in the NFL's premier executive as their GM. They hired the players' choice as head coach. "Elite" veterans and gifted draft picks litter their roster.
This should be a team demolishing a subpar AFC West. Instead, Kansas City sits at the bottom of the NFL with a 1-6 record. They have yet to lead in a game this year or score a touchdown in the first quarter. Five of their six games were already lost before the fourth quarter even started.
To steal an Archer quote, "There's not enough liquor and therapy in the world to undo that."
The sad part is that it's not going to get any better. Division rivals and improving teams dominate Kansas City's remaining schedule. Unless Kansas City can start capitalizing on their talent and stop turning the ball over, these last nine games will likely be as miserable as the first seven.
For an upside, Kansas City should hold one of the top spots in next year's draft. Too bad fans have to suffer through the rest of this season to get there.
If Kansas City couldn't change its ways between games with a bye week, how difficult will it be to travel to the west coast and win on a shortened week?
That's the spot the Chiefs find themselves in for Week 9, traveling to San Diego to play the Chargers on a Thursday night. The Chargers don't have much to hang their hat on, with a 3-4 record following a pair of miserable losses to the Broncos and Browns.
An advantage for the Chiefs in this game comes from the quarterback position. Matt Cassel threw the ball well against Oakland after Brady Quinn went down with a head injury. Crennel could go with either player, assuming Quinn is cleared to play by Thursday. San Diego won't know until game time which quarterback it's facing.
Unfortunately, Kansas City won't know either. Neither quarterback looks like an upgrade over the other at this point, and it doesn't matter if Ryan Lilja can't improve as a center in a hurry. Lilja is working hard in a bad situation, but the bad snaps are as much to blame for the Chiefs' turnovers as anything else.
All that and a short week will make a long game for the Chiefs and their fans.
Prediction: Kansas City 12, San Diego 38
This game will hurt.
It's bad enough that the Pittsburgh Steelers are regularly caught in a tight race with the Cincinnati Bengals and/or Baltimore Ravens. And that the Steelers currently rank second in the league on defense while Kansas City cooks the books on their offensive numbers with junk time touchdowns.
No, the worst part is that Todd Haley will come into this game looking for vindication.
In the span of the last few years, Haley went from NFC Champion offensive guru to imbalanced madman, chased out of Kansas City after alienating franchise players, arguing on the sidelines and running a revolving door at offensive coordinator. Shortly after the Chiefs fired Haley, the Kansas City Star released an article that reported Haley thought the Chiefs had bugged his phone.
Haley found a new offensive coordinator job afterwards but had to go to his father's old team to do it.
To top it all off, Romeo Crennel stepped in as the interim coach and beat the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers the following week.
Things don't look so cut and dry now with the Chiefs fully entrenched at the bottom of the league while the Steelers rank sixth in passing.
Ultimately, the worse the Chiefs do, the better Haley looks at this point. Don't expect the Steelers to take their feet off the gas on this one.
Prediction: Steelers 45, Chiefs 20 (with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter)
Things can't be all bad for the Chiefs. After all, at some point they'll have to take the lead in a game.
Of course, this might just be wishful thinking since I should actually be at this game.
The Bengals aren't doing nearly as well as they did last season; at 3-4, they're already two games out of the division lead and in third place. What's more, their losses came at the hands of teams that weren't supposed to be very competitive this year, like the Browns and Dolphins.
Passing the ball seems to be the one thing the Bengals do well, ranking 11th in the league. If Kansas City can ratchet things down in the secondary and contain A.J. Green, the Chiefs might just come up with their second win of the season.
Prediction: Chiefs 23, Bengals 17
Few things in professional sports compare to a good old-fashioned rivalry. And while it's best when said rivals are evenly matched, there's a guilty pleasure to be found in completely dominating a hated opponent.
Similarly, there isn't a feeling much lower than being the team completely outclassed.
While the Broncos may only hold a tenuous lead in the AFC West, the Chiefs aren't the ones who'll be challenging for the top spot anytime soon. Denver ranks among the best in passing offense and holds its own on defense.
Kansas City, on the other hand, has spent most of this season justifying why Peyton Manning wasn't even interested in visiting the Chiefs on his free agency tour.
The Chiefs might bring their A-game to bear when the Broncos come to town. But if they couldn't muster up enough enthusiasm to beat the Raiders at home, there's little hope that the outcome in Week 12 will be any better.
Prediction: Broncos 34, Chiefs 13
The Chiefs might be stinking up the AFC West, but at least their general manager wasn't fired partway through the season... yet.
The same can't be said of the Panthers, who fired Marty Hurney and have head coach Ron Rivera on the hot seat. Cam Newton looks to have regressed from his record-setting rookie season, while Carolina's defense ranks in the lower half of the league.
But while the Chiefs consistently lose in grand fashion, the Panthers stay competitive even in their losses. Five of Carolina's six losses were decided by six points or less, and they nearly upset the Bears in Chicago.
This game could be one of the deciding factors in the Chiefs' future. Unfortunately, it's not about the Chiefs' potential to go to the playoffs, but rather their position in the 2013 NFL Draft. A win against Carolina could push them out of the running for the top two picks and force them to consider second-tier options for a quarterback rather than guarantee them a shot at Matt Barkley or Geno Smith.
But until the Chiefs show they can even gain the lead in a game, the odds favor the team who's at least had a shot at winning games in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Panthers 27, Chiefs 22
The teams playing in the last four weeks of the season aren't usually the same team who took the field in the first few games.
Which is why the Cleveland Browns should find themselves on top of the Chiefs in Week 14.
With Trent Richardson banged up in the first part of the season, the Browns found themselves lacking the dominant rushing attack they hoped for when trading up to take the former Alabama standout.
But Richardson looks like he's trying to put that behind him now. His 122-yard performance against San Diego helped Cleveland pull out its second win of the season in a defensive standoff.
The Chiefs will need to hammer Richardson to keep him contained and force the Browns to beat them in the passing game. However, Brandon Weeden should similarly start improving as the season progresses.
The Chiefs should find more success against the Browns than they have against most opponents, but the Browns held the Chargers to only two field goals in their Week 8 matchup. Four weeks prior, the Chiefs allowed that same team 37.
Prediction: Browns 17, Chiefs 10
One of the few things that hurts more than getting beaten by the Oakland Raiders is getting beaten by them twice.
The Chiefs spend three of their last four games on the road, including this last-season matchup in the "Black Hole." Considering the Raiders still know what a home field advantage looks like, Kansas City's performance on the West Coast should look little different than what fans saw the first time around.
Prediction: Raiders 27, Chiefs 16
Not that it's terribly surprising, but Andrew Luck looks like he might be as good as advertised.
The Indianapolis Colts enjoyed over a decade of outstanding quarterback play with Peyton Manning and tanked in just the right year to draft someone who won't have any problems dealing with that legacy.
In fact, he might do something Manning couldn't his rookie year: win.
While the Colts went 3-13 in Manning's first year, Luck has his team with a winning record and in the playoff hunt. Donald Brown is helping provide a passable run offense while their defense ranks in the middle of the pack.
Luck is only going to improve as the season continues, as will his receiving options outside of Reggie Wayne. Kansas City won't be able to match the momentum this team will bring to Arrowhead Stadium at the end of the year, especially if there's a chance for a postseason appearance.
Prediction: Colts 34, Chiefs 20
Finally, the Chiefs reach the last game of this craptastic season.
Kansas City will venture off to Mile High to try saving some face in Week 17 but will face a playoff-bound Denver team fighting for a better seed in the postseason.
The Chiefs will have no such aspirations. If Clark Hunt hasn't fired Scott Pioli by this time, Romeo Crennel should be safe for at least another year, much to the displeasure of many fans on both counts. But jettisoning your head coach after one miserable year doesn't help entice quality successors. Just ask any Raiders fan.
That's not to say that there shouldn't be some changes. The offensive line has looked lost all season, while the rest of the offense looks meek and inept. Kansas City completely lacks the ability to stretch the field and need to find someone with a proven record to coordinate the offense.
Fortunately for Kansas City, Norv Turner should be out on the market after years of decline in San Diego, never mind their complete attrition of talent over the years. And the Chiefs will need him dearly as they go into the off-season looking to draft their first quarterback in the first round since Todd Blackledge.
As for Week 17, the goal here shouldn't be so much winning as it should be about staying healthy. Ricky Stanzi should get some time under center if he hasn't already, while the Chiefs close the books on one of their most miserable seasons to date.
Fans will complain and rant about a lackluster end to the year but will come back around when Kansas City drafts Geno Smith at the top of the draft.
And maybe next year I'll write a much more hopeful season forecast.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Chiefs 9