A win assures Andrew Luck and Co. a spot among the AFC’s top six teams. A loss, however, will have them scrambling for the outcome of the Cincinnati Bengals-Pittsburgh Steelers matchup played during the same time slot to determine if they will indeed be playing in January.
When the NFL released its schedule back in April, this game was circled—for many reasons—by those in and around both the Colts and Chiefs organizations.
This was supposed to be a late-season matchup featuring the league’s new crown jewel (Luck) in a place that was once considered the mecca (Arrowhead) of fanhood not only across the league, but the entire landscape of North American sports.
As the 2012 season has unfolded, Luck and the Colts held up their end of the bargain and have vanquished expectations. The Chiefs, on the other hand, are starting to resemble their neighbors at the Truman Sports Complex—although, even the Kansas City Royals are now trying to shed their longstanding label of mediocrity.
Instead of this being a trap game—one preceding Week 17’s heavyweight title bout, potential division-deciding matchup, rivalry-of-all-rivalries tilt with the Peyton Manning (the quarterback who rebuffed Kansas City in the offseason)-led Denver Broncos—the Chiefs are now left merely jockeying for draft position; coincidentally the same draft position that afforded the Colts the chance to select both Manning and Luck, albeit 14 years apart.
On Sunday, Chiefs fans were supposed to be cheering for Luck to fail. The only emotion left standing is to simply marvel at what could have been had their team not discounted the significance of developing their own quarterback through the draft.
Only three times since drafting Todd Blackledge with the seventh overall pick in 1983 have the Chiefs even taken a quarterback in the first three rounds (Mike —second round in 1989, Matt Blundin—second round in 1992 and Brodie Croyle—third round in 2006).
Kansas City’s failure to draft and develop a signal-caller has ultimately led to this season’s colossal blunder under center.
Neither Matt Cassel nor Brady Quinn has gotten the job done, and third-stringer Ricky Stanzi—a Scott Pioli guy—apparently isn’t capable of even sniffing first-team snaps either. All the while, the remaining 31 NFL teams have all at least tried—though some have failed—to employ this common practice.
Luck’s presence at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday represents a mirrored hyperbole of how each franchise has operated recently. Sadly, the collective eyes of Kansas City will be focused on the other sideline—the one doing things the right way.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy.