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An Analysis of Franchise Momentum: The Chiefs' Dow Jones Average

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chiefs dow jones
chiefs dow jones

While checking the usual cadre of Kansas City Chiefs sites, I came across this post by long time Chiefs Planet poster Rain Man. It was so good, I asked him if we could publish it on AP and he (thankfully) agreed. Many thanks to you Rain Man. -Chris

Many of us speak of the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s and warn you young bucks that it could be worse.

Well, it's pretty bad, and I started wondering just where we stand relative to the Dark Ages. So I developed an algorithm.

Here's how it works. Starting with Day 1 of the franchise, I looked at every regular and post-season game in our history. Each week I did the following:

A win is worth 1 point and a loss is worth -1 point. I then add it to 99 percent of the score of the previous week.

In this way, it creates a long tail showing the momentum of the franchise, because a win or loss shows up the next week at 99%, the following week at 99% of that, and so on. So it more or less traces a path of the long-term goodwill or badwill built up by the franchise over time as every single game in history continues to ripple through the Chiefs' space-time continuum.

I made a couple of adjustments, too. I made a playoff game worth 3 points for a win and -3 for a loss, and I also added or subtracted 1 point at the end of each regular season depending on whether or not we made the playoffs. These points get tossed in with the rest of the scores.

The Chiefs Dow Jones can thus be positive or negative, with a positive number indicating more good times than bad, and negative representing, of course, times like now where we are killing our pack animals for food and the dead are carted away in wheelbarrows.

What I found is shown in the accompanying graph. The numbers don't really mean anything but are more of an abstract measure. Some key elements of the timeline include:

1. After some early positive and negative fluctuations, the Chiefs found themselves with a positive Dow of 0.08 in Week 2 of the 1962 season, after a 26-16 win over the Raiders to go 2-0. The Dow would remain positive for the next 15 years after that win. Go, Lenny!

2. With significant assistance from the AFL championship win in 1962, the Chiefs Dow Jones passed +10.0 for the first time in Week 1 of the 1963 season as the Chiefs blasted the Broncos 59-7. However, by Week 5 the Chiefs were 2-2-1, having just lost to the Buffalo Bills 35-26, and they wouldn't see the 10.0 point mark again until a 32-24 win over the Jets in Week 12 of the 1966 season, on their way to the loss in Super Bowl I. So the 1962 championship more or less created the little spike you see in the early days.

3. The Chiefs' star rose rapidly after that, with with the Dow surpassing +20 on Week 12 of the 1968 season. A 24-10 win over the Houston Oilers put the Chiefs at 10-2, and they went on to a 12-2 record but a humiliating playoff loss.

4. 1969 was of course a banner season. After ending 1968 with an index of 19.49, the Chiefs blew through the season with an 11-3 record and three postseason wins, including Super Bowl IV. We ended the season at a then-record Dow of +33.48.

5. We actually beat the Dow record briefly in 1970, though as you can see from the graph, we were topping out and struggling to stay at that level. At the end of Week 12 of the 1970 season the Dow stood at 33.61. We were 7-3-2 at that point, having just beaten the pushover Denver Broncos 16-0 and with the Super Bowl win still fresh. However, losses to Oakland and San Diego the following two weeks kept us out of the playoffs.

6. The team was still strong, though. I'm girding myself for neg rep from milkman, but the high water for the Kansas City Chiefs franchise actually occurred not upon the Super Bowl win, but rather at the end of Week 14 in 1971, as we prepared for a playoff game. The Dow at this point was at 33.63 and the Chiefs were a powerful team of winning veterans. We were 10-3-1 and had just beaten the Buffalo Bills and their young running back O.J. Simpson by a score of 22-9. While we'd missed the playoffs the previous year, we'd made it the two years before that and of course still had the Super Bowl in recent memory.

Of course, we would have our beating hearts ripped out and eaten the following week on Christmas Day, starting a horrific multi-decade decline that is the curse of Garo Yepremian.

7. From that high point of 33.63, we began a terrible, terrible decline, both long and rapid. A 23-16 loss to the Bengals in Week 5 of 1972 dropped us below 30 for good, and a 14-7 loss to the Chargers in Week 9 of 1974 dropped us below 20 points for the first time since Week 3 of the 1969 season. A 28-20 loss to Oakland to end the 1975 season dropped the index below 10.0.

8. In Week 4 of 1977 the Dow actually fell below zero, meaning that the franchise's cumulative memory was now negative. On that day, the Chiefs fell to 0-4 with, ironically, a 23-7 loss to the Broncos.

9. The fall did not stop there. In Week 6 of 1978 we fell to an index below -10 with a loss to the Buccaneers, and the low point of that era occurred with a loss to San Diego in Week 4 of 1980, when our index fell to -18.64.

10. Marv Levy stabilized the franchise a bit, temporarily pulling the index above -10.0, and then Mackovic came in. He didn't do quite as well as Marv as the Chiefs started sliding again, but his playoff spot in 1986 got the index to -10.28 before the playoff loss.

11. Mackovic was fired, and Gansz came in and started digging. An ugly loss to Seattle in Week 2 of 1988 took the index below -20.0 for the first time ever. By the time he left, the index was at a then-record -23.35 as 1988 drew to a close.

12. In 1989 a holy trinity came to town: Carl Peterson, Marty Schottenheimer, and Derrick Thomas. It took a few games to catch fire, though, and the low point of the Chiefs franchise occurred when a 21-17 loss to the Bengals took the index to an all-time low of -24.41. However, things began looking up, and by the end of 1989 the index had risen to -19.74.

13. Bam, bam, bam. Faster than Derrick Thomas beating a left tackle, the Chiefs' fortunes rose. As they headed into a heartbreaking playoff loss to the Dolphins in 1990, the index was up to -10.14. In Week 7 of 1993, a young Will Shields and an old Joe Montana had resurrected the franchise, getting above 0 for the first time since 1977 with a 17-14 win over the Chargers as part of a 5-1 start to the season. Two playoff wins would push the index to 9.30.

14. In Week 8 of 1995, a 21-7 win over the Broncos would push the index above 10 for the first time since 1975.

15. The high water mark of the Peterson/Schottenheimer/Thomas era was the end of Week 16 of the 1997 season, when the index stood at 19.07. However, the theft of the playoffs the next week by a salary-cap-cheating team signalled the fall of Rome and its helmet-haired emperor.

16. In Week 1 of the 1999 season, coach Gunther Cunningham lost to the Bears and their "high-fangled trickery" and the index fell below 10.0. The index was at 5.43 when Gunther got his walking e-mails.

17. Dick Vermeil took over a team in crisis, and the index actually fell below zero three times in his early years, Week 13 of 2001 and Weeks 3 and 17 of 2002 as he struggled to stay above zero. However, he then assembled the greatest offensive show in Kansas City history and things looked up.

18. The high point of the Vermeil era was a 9.29 index at the end of the 2003 regular season, just before we entered the puntless game in Indianapolis. When Vermeil left, the index was back down to 4.98.

19. Enter Herm. He actually managed to increase the index for 16 weeks, rising to 7.16 before the embarrassing playoff loss to Indianapolis that dropped his first-year index to 4.08. From there on out it was downhill, with the index dropping below zero in Week 13 of 2007 after a 24-10 loss to the Chargers. A 30-27 loss to the Buccaneers in Week 9 of 2008 dropped the index below -10.0, and when Herm's work was finally done in 2008 the index stood at a frightful -16.60.

20. The trend downward continues with Haley, and the loss today puts the index at -20.68. Week 7 of 1988 through Week 12 of 1989 is the only period that had lower indexes than the current index, so yes, we are now cumulatively worse than we were in the 1970s.

The bottom line? If we lose the next 5 games in a row, it will officially be the lowest point of Chiefs civilization.