My emotions have wavered considerably since Sunday. Yes it's only Monday.
What are we, fans of the Kansas City Chiefs, supposed to think about Sunday's home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The records says the Chiefs were the better team. NFL analysts said the Chiefs were the better team. My own look at the rosters said the Chiefs were the better team. Yet as the two teams walked off the field on Sunday, the results were switched. It was a hard loss to take.
In the hours since the end of the game, I've found myself unsure of what to feel in a moment like this. On the one hand, there's frustration at the loss and anger at the performance. On the other side, it's just one game of 16 and the Chiefs are still among the AFC best teams overall. Where is the balance here?
The anger largely stems, for me, from the fact that this was a winnable game. Tampa Bay was, again for me, the worst team the Chiefs would face in this third quarter of the season. Besides the difference in quarterbacks (I'm a big believer in Jameis Winston's pro potential), the Chiefs have the coaching staff, the depth, the talent and impact players to win this game. They were also playing in Arrowhead.
It wasn't a complete gimme on the schedule, but something clicked in me watching the Chiefs last year under Andy Reid. With their backs against the wall, the Chiefs rattled off one win after another. In doing so, there was a growing sense that the best teams could still take the Chiefs, but that they took care of business when they were supposed to. They were disciplined, and even when they were bad, they could still get it done (e.g. recent wins over the Jags and Panthers).
The frustrating part watching this game unfold and seeing the score change to "Final" comes from knowing the team travels to Denver next week to face the Broncos (coming off of a bye, by the way) and then heading to the division-leading Atlanta Falcons after that. Are those opponents too tough for the Chiefs? Not at all, but they're certainly more formidable than the level of competition provided by the Bucs. Or at least, that's what we told ourselves.
At the same time, the bigger picture provides a reprieve. The Chiefs are 7-3 and are firmly in control of their own destiny with four more divisional contests on the schedule. Would you not have taken the Chiefs at 7-3 at this point before the season? I thought so. Me too. It's a wonderful record that nearly every other fan base would love to have.
In addition, the team is hurting right now and even those who are finally healthy will need time to get into game shape. The Chiefs had every opportunity to win this game even and really just beat themselves, gifting third down conversions like it was an early Christmas at Arrowhead. Give them enough time and things should really begin to gel and/or turn around. At least that's what we say to feel better about ourselves.
But then I think about it all over again, wondering why the Chiefs played sloppy once again. The weird game management miscues, the weird play calls in the end zone, the sputtering offense. The Chiefs, I believe, shouldn't be sneaking by such opponents. They should be making statements against them with one dominating victory after another. The talent level is that good, believe it or not.
Which brings me right back to where I began. How should I feel about this? Let's just defeat Denver and I'll be ready to forgive and forget anything that happened in the past.