Going into Week 17, the Chiefs were on a roll. They had won five of six games, with the only exception being the debacle in San Diego while Matt Cassel recovered from emergency appendectomy surgery.
They were finally being recognized outside of Kansas City, Bleacher Report and some blogs. Though Tom Brady had sewn up the MVP, Matt Cassel was named as a candidate. Todd Haley was a consistent Coach of the Year nominee. Scott Pioli was, and still is, assumed to be Executive of the Year.
Then came the last game of the season, at Arrowhead. The Chiefs were undefeated at home going into Week 17. Only one other team, the Patriots, could also lay claim to that fact.
Additionally, they were playing their division rival, the Oakland Raiders. One of the circumstances surrounding the game, however, was that the Chiefs had already won the division the week before. So, the question was being asked, should they play their starters?
For various reasons that have already been reviewed over and over again, they did. Also, we certainly aren't going to rehash the details about how they got taken out behind the woodshed by the Raiders in that game.
That is not the point of the article.
Since then, most of what I have seen on television, listened to on the radio and read in regard to analysis of the playoffs refer to that last game.
What if the Chiefs didn't lay an egg that day and played a good, tough game? Would everyone view the Chiefs differently?
My guess is they would and that makes no sense to me. The Chiefs made the mistake of having a very bad game the week before the playoffs started. They showed everyone their weaknesses and none of their strengths.
Every one of the teams in the playoffs have had a very bad, ugly loss, with one exception: Baltimore.
What would people be saying if the Jets were going into today's game following a 45-3 beatdown by the Patriots? How about if the Packers' last game was a 7-3 loss to the Lions?
The Ravens would still be favored because they are a better team than the Chiefs. The perception, however, would be completely different.
Yet, this is still the same Chief team that went from worst to first and won the AFC West.
Note to anyone who feels compelled to comment on this: Spare me the schedule the Chiefs played. That subject has been beaten like a red-headed step child or dirty rug, and clubbed like a baby seal. Drop it, leave it alone. The Chiefs played the schedule they had. Move onto the next subject.
If the Chiefs play anything like they did against the Raiders, the results will be the same.
Earlier in the year, they went on the road and lost close games to Indianapolis and Houston. They should have won both games, but inexperience and a couple very inopportune mistakes cost them both games.
What if they had won those? The perspective of the Chiefs would be completely different. A dropped pass in Indianapolis and a blown coverage at the end of the game in Houston, and they lose by four points. They did, however, lose.
The first meeting against the Raiders in Oakland was a hard-fought, ugly contest won by the Raiders in OT. A very classic Raiders vs. Chiefs contest. If that had been the last game, people would have a different perspective.
I expect the Kansas City Chiefs team that has worked hard all year to come out on Sunday and fight hard against a more experienced, battle-tested and tough Ravens team.
Finally, yes, the Chiefs can win the game. Guess what will happen if they do? Perhaps a trip to New England?
All you will have to do is listen and read, and you'll find out. Everyone's perspective of the Chiefs will change, all because of one game.
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