Every individual game is crucial when a team is in the pursuit of the playoffs.
There is very little hype building up for this Sunday’s matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. It’s not a very lucrative game. Thousands of seats at Arrowhead Stadium will be empty. The Chiefs, 5-4, are tied in the standings for first place with the hated Oakland Raiders (though the tiebreaker right now would give Oakland an edge). With Oakland playing the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the best teams in the AFC, this game should be the talk of the town. Kansas City has a good chance to regain first place in the AFC West. You should be nervous about this game. You should be excited.
So why are we not freaking out about this game?
The Chiefs are coming off a horrendous road trip; they lost at Oakland in a close game that should have been won, and got destroyed by the Denver Broncos in an embarrassing blowout loss. Many Chiefs fans thought this trip could yield two wins, which would have essentially locked up this division.
Instead, this team will have to fight and claw if they want to find their way into the postseason. The schedule is getting easier but the importance of the games played is mounting each week. If the Chiefs hadn’t started the season 5-2, the season would probably be lost at this point. That fast start allowed the Chiefs to stumble these past two weeks. They lost two crucial games on their schedule, both to divisional opponents, and guess what? They aren’t out of it. Not by a long shot.
There are certainly obstacles in the way. Tony Moeaki, Jon McGraw, and Dexter McCluster are all struggling with injuries, and rumors continue to swirl of bickering between Todd Haley and Charlie Weis. But a good team overcomes these things. Here’s to hoping we are one.
Let’s be honest: Arizona is not a good team. If the Chiefs can’t beat the Cardinals on Sunday, I don’t want to say the season is over… but it won’t be in very good shape. Look for Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones to rack up the yardage this week. Other than that, there really isn’t much of a clear strategy to beating the Cardinals. If the Chiefs play decent football, they should win this game easily.
With a win, the Chiefs likely regain a one-game lead on the AFC West with six weeks to go. But with a loss, the Chiefs will squander yet another opportunity to move closer toward the playoffs. You only get so many chances at this, folks, and you have to capitalize when you are given them.
If this team was ever worthy of playoff discussion, now is the time they need to show it.