Some will look at Sunday's game and shrug. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers 19-7, but still missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record. In some ways, the game was meaningless. In others, it was very important.
Kansas City is trying to establish itself as a winning franchise. Sunday's victory gave the Chiefs a winning record for the second consecutive year, something that hasn't happened since 2005-06. It's important to establish a base and a culture for the future, and this win helps that cause.
It also displayed pride and toughness. The Chiefs had a litany of starters out including Alex Smith, but rallied behind Chase Daniel for the win. San Diego had everything to play for, and mustered nothing. The defense was fantastic, time and again sacking Philip Rivers and forcing him off the field in visible frustration.
The season is over, but the momentum carries over. Sweeping San Diego and going 9-7 will help this team in 2015. It will also help that the Chiefs won six of their last seven at Arrowhead Stadium. In the end, this year was a disappointment because Kansas City isn't in the postseason, but it isn't a wasted campaign.
While there are clear holes on this roster at offensive line and receiver, many other issues coming into the season have been fixed. Travis Kelce is a legitimate top-tier tight end. De'Anthony Thomas is a nice offensive threat and a terrific returner. Ron Parker and Husain Abdullah are an excellent safety tandem. Allen Bailey went from zero to hero. Justin Houston went from great to the best linebacker in football by a mile.
All of those things and more lead us to the most offseason this team has had since the Carl Peterson era. The Chiefs are primed to become a Super Bowl contender. Kansas City proved it can beat the best, trouncing the New England Patriots and physically dominating the Seattle Seahawks. The Chiefs beat the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills on the road, and swept the Chargers. This team is no longer beating up on bad teams and losing to all the good ones.
In the next four months, general manager John Dorsey needs to clear cap space and get after it. Dorsey can easily create $25-35 million by cutting Donnie Avery, Chase Daniel, Tamba Hali and A.J. Jenkins, converting Smith's base salary into bonus, and either cutting Dwayne Bowe or having him accept a significant pay cut.
The great thing about this offseason is the obvious nature of the problem. Dorsey can attack the offensive line with a passion, knowing it's the biggest weakness. Beyond a fix there, what is a huge problem? A wide receiver can certainly be had either in free agency or the draft, so Dorsey should be able to get that accomplished.
The games are over and the lights are off in Arrowhead, but the Chiefs are still playing. Instead of on the field, the contests move into the front office, where the next five years will be shaped between now and May.
If Dorsey gets free agency right and hits on some of Kansas City's 11 picks, 2015 looks like a great place.