The buildup, the excitement, the expectations, the proof, "seeing is believing", all words that can be used directly for this young Kansas City Chiefs season so far, as we are 3-2, coming off a tough stretch of two road games that we had in our grasp but let slip away late, leading many of us to even more buildup, excitement, expectations, and the proof is in the pudding as we are seeing and believing in this team as they have won a tough away game, a tough home game, blew out a bad team, and played very well against two superior teams on the road. And now for my next trick, I will condense all of those phrases and words into one word to describe the other side of that coin: Letdown! TAAAA DAAAAA! Magic, magic, magic, magic.......
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It's really good to be talking about this team as being in a position to "let us down", so to speak, with our expectations now risen to a near atmospheric level (just saw a vote that had nearly 40% of 200+ votes saying we would win 10 games this year, wow!). However, this just opens the door for that possible let down game that could potentially sink our season. It's not impossible to think of this happening to this young, inexperienced team, and no one would rightfully expect it, but that's how it always sneaks up and catches you by surprise. A team playing at a very high level, coming off of showing the world that they are a legitimate contender for their division, conference, even league, championship, with all of the media picking them as their darlings after their repeated stellar performances. The team is going into a matchup against an overmatched and undertalented team that is double digit underdogs. No way they lose the game, far too much is going for them, and BAM!!!!!!!! Whoa! What happened? Did we even leave our homes today to play this game? Did I leave my pads and cleats in the locker room? How did this lowly underdog beat this team? It happens every season, and well-coached, strongly led teams can overcome it, look past it and get back that dominance after a shocking loss of this nature. But SOMETIMES, that let down game can ruin your season. It can set you back so much that the team seems to forget how to play winning ball like they were before that fateful game. The ball just stops bouncing their way, the plays just aren't working like they used to, the opponents may have figured you out.
In a quick glance back, in 2009, the Denver Broncos were flying high at 6-0, just coming off a big division win at San Diego and going into their bye week. Then the Baltimore Ravens lay waiting at a quiet 3-3, and just blew up that up-until-then stout Bronco defense, and the rest is history, as the Broncos went from surprise contender to expected pretender. Their defense allowed 11 points/game in the first 6 games, but allowed the Ravens to roll up 30 points on them and allowed 25.8 points/game for the final 10 games and finished at 8-8, becoming one of the very few teams in league history to start 6-0 and miss the playoffs. Painful let down for the first year head coach Josh McDaniels, as he experienced first hand how quickly a season can turn when the letdown is involved.
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In 2008, the Mean Green, New York Jets, were going into Week 13 at 8-3, coming off big road wins against the rival New England Patriots and a strong Tennessee Titan team, and sitting atop the AFC East division. And then those Denver Broncos came into the Meadowlands and hung a loss on Brett Favre and the Jets, as the Jets could only muster one more win in their final 5 games, going 9-7 and missing the playoffs. This effectively sent Brett Favre into re-retirement / sexting rehab as he couldn't stop himself from sending lewd photos over text messages to anyone within his contact list; apparently John Madden received a text of this nature from Brett and one thing led to another....
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Just a small sample of the most recent "let downs" in the NFL, not including maybe the all-time biggest let down, which occurred in a Super Bowl, and involved an undefeated New England Patriots team, averaging an all-time season record of points scored per game against an overmatched New York Giants team that was allowing 21+ points per game. But let's move on to our Chiefs, and their history of letdowns. I am utterly worried that the Chiefs are in for that let down game; saying that after two straight losses is a little odd, I know, but there isn't a soul on the planet right now that doesn't expect the Chiefs to just absolutely demolish at least our next two opponents, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Buffalo Bills, and possibly the Oakland Raiders following. These are arguably 3 of the worst teams in the league right now in terms of offense, defense, coaching, and anything else that has to do with football. The Jags have somehow stumbled into 3 wins, including an unlikely victory against the Indianapolis Colts and abig opening day road win against the Denver Broncos (with that said, did the Broncos have their letdown game in the first week this season? Let's hope so. But I digress....) The Buffalo Bills are about as bad as you can get right now, andthe Raiders aren't far behind them, or should I say in front of them? But these games have "letdown" written all over them for the Chiefs, as we come back home against the Jags and Bills and what should be absolutely terrible QB play from them, We've been down this road before, as the buildup for the team andthe expectations start to climb, they find a way to bring it alldown on top of our heads with a painful and nauseating crash.
Let's turn the clock back all the way to 2003. Wow, what a start for the Chiefs, going 9-0, scoring points, playing some strong defense to compliment that potent offense, only allowing 16 points/game. Then Chad Ochocinco (or Johnson as he was called back then), got in front of the camera, and started doing what he does so well: talking up himself and his team; he "guaranteed" his Cincinnati Bengals would beat the then undefeated Chiefs in Cincy. The Bengals were only 4-5 at that time, with the incumbent Jon Kitna as their starting QB, no one in their right mind thought that the Bengals had anything for us. I mean, come on, they're the Bungles for pete's sake! Then, in something right out of a recent Monday Night Football game in Kansas City, the weather turned bad, the ground was muddy, the temperature was frigid, the rain was coming down, and right there in Cin City, the Bengals gave the unstoppable Kansas City Chiefs their letdown game for the season, and it ruined our season. The Chief's defense went from giving up 16 points/game, to giving up 26 points per game the rest of the season, and jumped from allowing 122 rush yards/game to 177 rush yards/game, which is downright disgusting. The Bengals went on to finish 8-8, as the Chiefs rolled to an AFC West division, the 2nd best record in the conference, a 1st round bye, and a prompt exit at the hands of the Colts in the "no punt" game as our defense went down the toilet after that letdown game in Cincinnati.
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Now could this massive let down game in 2003 possibly affected the following season? I propose that it ultmately did, and may have affected several following years of defensive ineptitude as we all remember the embarrassing jokes of defenses that the Chiefs fielded from 2003-2009. Consider that after a spectacular offensive season in 2003, being top 3 in points and yards, but being bottom 3 in total defense and rush yards allowed, it was clear what we needed going into 2004. The defense was the only priority going into the draft for Carl Peterson, Dick Vermeil, and the scouting team, but who did we decide to draft? We traded out of the 16thpick with the Pittsburgh Steelers anddrafted Larry Johnson in the late 1st round, while the Steelers used our original pick on a little player named Troy Polamalu. We were so
horribly bad apparently good on defense that we passed up on him, along with other future starting defensive players including Calvin Pace, Nick Barnett, Nnamdi Asomugha, Charles Tillman, EJ Henderson, and Osi Umenyiora. Incredible. Going into the 2004 season, we had very high expectations and we started very slow, losing our first 3 games, but got it back together as we win the next 3 out of 4, with our offense putting up yards and points no problem, and simply covering up for our defense's shortcomings. Up until we head to Tampa to face a 2-6 Buccaneers team that had been averaging 15.5 points/game to that point, and they dropped 34 points on our head, as we can't outscore them, losing 34-31. We go on to lose our next 3 games, dropping us completely out of playoff contention by Week 12 a year after going 13-3. Major letdown that could be traced back all the way to the year before, but definitely was felt as we tried to pick up the pieces to be consistent contenders, only to get donkey punched back to reality.
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So does this mean I am expecting the worst for our Chiefs and them to crash back to reality? No, but it isn't out of my mind yet. This is familiar territory for the Chiefs, as they have built up expectations a few times just in the last decade, only to have that letdown artistically suck all talent, luck, and intelligence out of the team. The Chiefs will be favored against Jacksonville, Buffalo, andpossibly Oakland, which puts us in the position to be upset by a team that has no business beating us. Luckily, I would say we have a better coaching staff than we had in those years of the letdown, so we have that going for us, and after two losses in a row, how much more could we be let down? But with the eyes of the nation upon us, I am here to say that the sign of a good team is to beat the teams you are supposed to beat but the sign of a great team is to bounce back after tough losses, no matter who they are to, and get back to what made you great in the first place. Don't let us down, Chiefs.