Photo: Denny Medley USA Today Sports
With the AFC Wild Card games upon us, the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts enter the playoffs with something to prove. In the post season, talent generally wins out in January. However in this game, fate may ultimately intervene.
Much can be said about the Indianapolis Colts 23-7 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks ago. But why go there when on Saturday, in the AFC Wild Card round, the two combatants are set for a rematch that sends the winner onto the divisional round and the other into the NFL off-season abyss.
But as one who covers the NFL and the Chiefs, it’s not so easy to forget what happened at Arrowhead two Sunday’s ago. But in reality, that game has no barring on the outcome of Saturday’s Wild Card match up.
Sure the Colts offense took advantage of virtually every mismatch they could find against the Chiefs lackluster defense. On the flip side of the ball, Indy was far more physical at the line of scrimmage as their defensive line had their way with KC’s offensive line.
In the rematch on Saturday, that might not be the case. One the Chiefs are rested and as healthy as they’ve been since opening day. Secondly, the Colts have some defensive injuries that may not put some of their starters on the sidelines but they won’t be at their physical best.
In the playoffs, I’ve always maintained Head Coaches don’t lose post season games. In my book, it is the players on the field who decide wins and losses. After all the NFL playoffs generally birth future stars.
A decade ago, until he stepped into the playoffs, nobody knew much about New England Patriots Quarterback, Tom Brady. Now he’s an NFL legend with a trio of Super Bowl rings on his finger.
Granted neither the Colts or Chiefs have a quarterback the caliber of Brady but that doesn’t mean Andrew Luck or Alex Smith can’t deliver a big win for their respective teams on Saturday.
The Chiefs enter this road contest with a large amount of confidence playing away from Arrowhead. After finishing the regular season with a 6-2 mark, that should have been 7-1 after the officiating gaffe that guided the Chargers into the playoffs last Sunday, Kansas City seems to enjoy playing on the road.
Still as well as Kansas City has played on the road this year one has to wonder if that success will lead to road playoff victories. If the Chiefs want to keep playing in January, they’ll have to win on the road. That aside, the Chiefs home or away have not won a playoff game since they left Houston 20 years ago that led to their only AFC Championship game since the 70’s.
In the NFL, there is a high probability trends stay the same. The Chiefs though are hoping to start a new trend that turns repetitive losses into winning consistently in the month of January.
The Colts despite the fact they’re playing at home also have something to prove. They were one and done a year ago in the playoffs losing to the future Super Bowl Champion, Baltimore Ravens.
Under the guidance of Luck, he must prove he can be a successful January quarterback. As a franchise, even with the great, Peyton Manning at the helm of the offense, the Colts proved to be a far better regular season team than a perennial post-season champion.
Yet the history in Kansas City the past three decades has been blank, dry and dismal in regards to post season success. All this franchise has known since then is losing, losing and more losing.
To win Saturday’s contest against the Colts, the Chiefs not only have to exorcise the demons of their past failures in the playoffs against Indianapolis but also must change the losing culture that’s rotted the foundation and thwarted their aspirations to reach another Super Bowl.
I don’t know about you but I’m tired of paying homage to the Super Bowl IV squad. Yes they do represent the only championship this franchise has celebrated in its rich 50-year history.
In reality, I’m not sure this will be the year that Kansas City gets back to a Super Bowl or even wins it’s first playoff game in forever. But I do know at some point, their post-season failures have to turn into successes if they’re ever going to break the January losing grip that will ultimately lead to another Super Bowl appearance.
So if the NFL Gods, who gave the Chiefs a solid nod in 2013, feel they’re worthy to turn their fortunes around with a fresh winning trend, then Kansas City will defeat the Colts on Saturday.
If not, a familiar ‘next season’ anthem will play within the Chiefs nation until next January, when perhaps Kansas City might actually be poised for future post season success.
This year it’s far too difficult to predict what will end up being the Chiefs fate. But like the Ravens a year ago, who entered the post season with so many question marks, the Chiefs have a chance to become the AFC darlings.
And if history does mean anything for this post season starved franchise, the last time the Chiefs finished the regular season with an 11-5 record, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback (Joe Montana), led them to the cusp of the Super Bowl.
So will that be the case for the Chiefs after the ball has dropped on the New Year?
On Saturday, we’re all about to find out.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Will a reversal of fortunes be in the post season cards for the Chiefs?
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