As the Chiefs have proven in the last seven weeks, wins of any kind are far from a guarantee in the NFL. It’s why each victory, especially those against division rivals with playoff implications on the line, should be celebrated.
The Chiefs 26-15 win over Oakland could have, and probably should have, been even more of a blowout. Kansas City dominated both sides of the ball without playing close to the best of their abilities.
This should be a sign of things to come for Chiefs fans, that the team finally crawled their way out of the rut they got themselves in and will regain their aura from earlier this season.
However, Kansas City’s drastic downfall cost the team all the built-up fan equity gained in the first five games. It will take more than just one win to earn back trust and confidence in this year’s team.
It’s for this reason that when the season ends, it’s incredibility hard to extract just what Sunday’s win means. Regardless of how the season went, beating the Patriots would have gone down as a major win and losing to the Jets would have gone down as a major loss.
In this case, Sunday’s game will be grouped with how the final four games end up, specifically the three against the AFC West. A win against Oakland, coupled with a Saturday night victory over Los Angeles, would show that with their backs against the wall with all three teams sitting at 6-6, Kansas City had what it takes.
But if Kansas City loses Saturday and gives Los Angeles the division lead, then it’s easy to mark the win over Oakland as a game where KC capitalized on lackluster quarterback play and a very beatable defense.
It’s been impossible to predict how this Chiefs team will perform from week to week, as Kansas City has dominated good opponents and looked overmatched against some of the league’s worst teams. Sunday’s win doesn’t change that unpredictability, but it is the first time in more than a month that both sides of the football have clicked at the same time.
The defense held Oakland to zero points in the game’s first 45 minutes and Derek Carr to just 69 passing yards in that time. The offense totaled 408 yards and averaged five yards per rush, and could have put up many more points with better play on Oakland’s side of the field.
It was a complete team effort with solid contributions from quarterback to running back to receiver, with a pass rush that showed life, a run defense that revealed newfound toughness and a defense that forced more turnovers in one game than in the last month combined.
The same level of play will be needed to beat the Chargers and win the division, and an even better level of play is necessary if Kansas City hopes to advance in the playoffs.
But for Sunday, there was actual reason to celebrate at Arrowhead, something that has not been the case of late. Fans should enjoy the win and players should regain some of their confidence and mojo heading into Saturday’s game.
Just as Sunday was the team’s biggest game of the year for Kansas City, now Saturday is the team’s biggest game of the year.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for the Chiefs. Just like a kid’s first trip on the Mamba at Worlds of Fun where they don’t know what’s next or just how’ll they’ll respond, the same can be said for the end of this ride that we call the 2017 Kansas City Chiefs season.
Only time will tell whether or not Sunday was just the final plateau of a ride nearing its end, or instead the start of the most thrilling drop yet. Either way, Chiefs fans better fasten their seat belt for these final three weeks.
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