Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, September 30, 2017 at 7:00 AM
Not many pundits or handicappers were expecting the Kansas City Chiefs to make a championship run this season. This head coach (Andy Reid) and this quarterback (Alex Smith) are supposedly incapable of such a thing! Sure, they can get to the playoffs…but are they capable of taking that next step?
Nobody though Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons were going to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl a year ago at this time. Heck, nobody thought the Dallas Cowboys were going to go 13-3 either. The NFL is a league full of surprises. And, Kansas City could very easily be this year’s Atlanta Falcons in terms of making the leap to February football.
Kansas City hosts the Washington Redskins Monday Night, in a game that could tell us a lot about whether or not they’re the real deal or just an illusion so far this season. With Washington coming off an impressive road win against the Los Angeles Rams, and a dominant home win over the Oakland Raiders…the visitor is hoping to make a MNF statement of its own.
Why should Kansas City be taken seriously for the Lombardi Trophy?
*They’re more explosive than they used to be. This isn’t a team that’s just going to punt all day and hope the opponent commits turnovers. The Chiefs gained more than 500 yards in the season opener at New England…a win that could ultimately have tie-breaker implications for home field advantage come playoff time. And, it wasn’t just one good offensive game. Kansas City has gained 8.3, 6.7, and 6.1 yard-per-play this season. Nobody else has done anything like that.
*They’re already battle tested! This isn’t a team that’s 3-0 out of the gate because they drew an easy schedule. Sure, beating the Chargers in a soccer stadium isn’t that difficult. But, winning at New England is huge…and the home win over Philadelphia came against a possible playoff team as well.
*Reid and Smith are so much on the same page that they might as well be thinking with the same brain. How many teams can you say that about in the NFL? There are a few…and those few are all very good!
*Most importantly, New England may be nearing the end of its AFC and NFL dynasty. They showed vulnerabilities in the playoffs last season until Tom Brady bailed them out. Tougher to do in your 40’s! And, the Pats are lucky not to be 1-2 already because they won in the final seconds against Houston last week. Super Bowls aren’t won in September…and the Chiefs don’t get a trophy for dominating the Pats in Foxboro in the first game of a season. But, the door in the AFC may be more open than people were thinking given New England’s trend direction.
Keep all of that in mind as you watch the Monday Nighter on ESPN. Will Kansas City keep hitting on all cylinders? Or, was their hot start just a case of a smart, veteran team being more ready to start the season than their opponents. Coach K is known for doing that in college hoops…his Duke teams often dominate in November because of great preparation, but then disappoint in the Dance because of soft inside defense and poor tournament rebounding.
Maybe the Chiefs will disappoint again. Maybe the Chiefs will disappoint Monday Night! Washington just routed the AFC title threat Oakland Raiders this past Sunday evening…and can’t possibly be any more confident about their outlook than they are right now. Kirk Cousins can make this a game if he avoids turnovers. That’s always a key issue when you’re handicapping his matchups.
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