Why winning ugly is a good sign for the Chiefs’ playoff chances - KCTV5

Why winning ugly is a good sign for the Chiefs’ playoff chances

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Travis Kelce (AP) Travis Kelce (AP)
KANSAS CITY, MO (FOOTBALLKC) -

The Kansas City Chiefs could finish the 2017 season 14-2, with Kareem Hunt as Rookie of the Year and Alex Smith as Most Valuable Player.

But if the Chiefs lose in the divisional round of the playoffs, the season will go down as a disappointment.

The bar has been set, fair or not, for this franchise to reach the AFC Championship game.

Some fans may say Super Bowl or bust for a team that started 5-0, but at minimum, reaching the AFC title game for just the second time since 1970 is progress and should be an expectation for a team of this caliber.

However, the beauty of football, or frustration, is that the regular season can only do so much in determining your fate when the all-important month of January comes around. The regular season is a fair measuring stick for who the best 12 teams are and gives the very best teams an extra week of rest.

But really, when it comes to the Chiefs over the past 52 years, the regular season has meant very little when it comes to postseason success.

Since 1970, Kansas City has been good enough in the regular season to pile up seven division titles, 15 playoff appearances and four seasons with a first round postseason bye.

That’s led to a grand total of four playoff wins in 52 years, two home playoff wins, one trip to the conference championship and zero trips to the Super Bowl. It’s no secret that the franchise Lamar Hunt owned, and son currently owns, has yet to win the actual Lamar Hunt trophy.

In 1995, 1997, 2003 and 2016, all years in which Kansas City earned a top two seed, the Chiefs were good enough in the regular season to warrant at least one playoff win. But each year, the team lost in the divisional round, at home, to a lesser seed.

Nothing the team does in the 2017 regular season will stop Chiefs fans from fearing that same outcome again. The regular season has simply failed to be a strong indicator toward postseason success for this franchise, and until that changes, Chiefs fans have every right to fear the worst.

However, wins like Monday night’s 29-19 victory over Denver should give Chiefs fans more optimism than the stat line, or final score, may indicate.

It was an ugly game. The Chiefs offense couldn’t score in the red zone, the defense couldn’t stop the run, Hunt was bottled up, Smith missed receivers and Tyreek Hill even threw an interception. But the Chiefs still won, and that outcome was never really in doubt.

Over the past 50 years, the Chiefs have had plenty of blowout wins, where the offense clicks on all cylinders and puts up 40 points, or the defense dominates with seven sacks and five turnovers. But when January rolls around, something is always off.

On Monday night, something was off. The team had 11 days to prepare, Denver came in limping, Arrowhead was rocking, all signs pointed to a blowout win. But the Chiefs still let Denver hang around, outgain them and left with a victory many fans felt should have been closer to 45-6.

But unlike past postseasons when the team wasn’t totally clicking, on Monday the Chiefs still won. No, a win on October 30 does not mean the team is more likely to win in the divisional round. But if you take anything away from the regular season, it’s that the Chiefs have shown the ability to win a variety of games in very different ways.

This isn’t a Dick Vermeil team with all offense, no defense, and it isn’t a Marty Schottenheimer team with all defense, no offense. It’s a team that has proven in 2017 the ability to win games through the air, on the ground, with a ball-hawking defense, coming from behind and on the road. All tough games to win.

Odds of winning a playoff game in blowout fashion, where everything goes right, is slim. If the Chiefs want success in January, they must win ugly, - something they haven’t been able to do for the bulk of 52 years. But on a Monday night, when nothing went particularly great, maybe this is a strange sign of things to come.

Because when the Chiefs eventually win their second divisional game in 52 years, it probably will look a lot like Monday night.

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