So... the Chiefs have a playoff game today.
Let me say that another way: the Kansas City Chiefs host a playoff game today.
Not quite there.
One more time: today, it’s win or go home for the Chiefs as they take on the Tennessee Titans at legendary Arrowhead Stadium in a game where the team motto is “fear nothing, attack everything.”
Man, still not doing it.
What is wrong with me this year? Normally at this time of the season (the day of the playoffs) I’m so amped I can hardly stand it. I spend the entire day prior to the game stumbling through work and fatherhood and husbanding (I know, I know... Mrs. MNchiefsfan is a lucky lady) as I consider all the things that could go right or wrong the next day. I’m almost jittery I’m so hyped.
This year? Not so much.
I keep waiting to get buzzed about this game, and for some reason I’m just ... not.
I don’t have bad feeling about the game. That’s not it.
I’m definitely excited as a fan to watch the Chiefs play. It’s not that I don’t care.
I’m definitely optimistic about the Chiefs’ chances to win this game, and make a deep playoff run this year (the team is playing their best ball of the season overall). So it’s not that I think there isn’t a chance for something amazing to happen this season.
No, there just feels like an absence of ... something.
This feeling, I’ve found, is not unique to me. I took to Twitter to share my feelings (because that’s what Twitter is for, right?), and I found out that a whole bunch of other people feel the same way. In fact, our fearless leader talked about a similar feeling (characterizing it as a “lack of buzz,” which isn’t a bad way to put it).
So what’s the deal?
Since it’s my job to examine every facet of the Chiefs in utterly painstaking detail, I took it upon myself to figure out EXACTLY what my feeling (and the feeling of so many other Chiefs fans) really is. And so I did something that I dread doing... I sat down and really thought about my feelings.
Gross, right? Now you know the utter depths to which I will go to serve you, loyal reader. We’ve been through too much together for me to not be willing to do something as vile as actually give thought to what is going on in this mess I call a mind. So I did it... I pondered my feelings, and I came up with an answer.
The feeling we are missing is ... nervousness.
Nothing gets you amped like nerves, right? Nothing really gets you jittery and fired up and moving around and unable to stop thinking as a good old fashioned case of agitation to get you going, right? THAT’S what’s missing for me. I’m not at all nervous.
It’s not that I don’t think the Chiefs can lose (I do, though I doubt it). It’s just that I’m not NERVOUS about them losing. So after a bit MORE thought (it’s been a tough day, guys), I figured out why.
Normally, the playoffs mean the Chiefs are a game away from being done for the year. One game away from the utterly unbearable wait for next season to begin. What’s worse (and this is the crucial part here), a loss means that the Chiefs have displayed a fatal flaw for yet another season and go into next year looking for answers.
Every loss in the playoffs means an opportunity has been missed. It means the Chiefs missed a “window” to win a Super Bowl. Then it’s time to worry about players leaving, or regressing, or somehow shoring up the weaknesses that led to the loss.
In short, a loss in the playoffs means being done having exciting thoughts about football, and with only concerned thoughts about the team moving forward (since playoff losses inevitably expose a team’s weaknesses). The excitement is gone, not to be rekindled again until draft season (an unbearable several months away!).
Not so this year.
Because no matter what happens today, I’m excited about next season, not worried. Now that we’ve seen Patrick Mahomes in action, the very WORST scenario for me doesn’t take away from my excitement for next season. Because I think that dude can P-L-A-Y, and the idea of him with these weapons and Andy Read coaching him makes me want to freak out.
In the past, whenever we’ve lost in the playoffs, it left me with a “how is next year supposed to be any different?” kind of feeling. Well, with Mahomes waiting in the wings, there’s a certain feeling that next year (whether better or worse, we don’t know) will almost certainly be different.
I haven’t hidden my optimism regarding Mahomes’s ability, and the brief glimpse we got against the Broncos only served to further fuel my belief that he’s going to be a very, very good quarterback. I’ve made it no secret I believe his time will start next year (with what SHOULD be a fond farewell to Alex Smith, a player who deserves my respect, and yours too. None of this has to do with disliking a fine player who has had a career year), and I think it’s going to be incredibly exciting.
As I’ve said, in the past, the worst case scenario was a horrific loss and a long, dreary offseason of wondering how on earth the Chiefs were going to turn things around. That possibility literally doesn’t exist for me this year. Not only are the Chiefs a (in my opinion) good team with a good chance at making some serious noise in the postseason, but even if they lose... well, I’m still excited about them.
I’m playing with house money this year, folks. If the Chiefs win, that’s AWESOME, and we’re one step closer to the dream as fans (a Super Bowl trophy). If they lose, well... next year is shaping up to be one of the most exciting of the last 30 years. I literally can’t lose from an emotional point of view.
Of course, all of these feelings may well fade away if the Chiefs advance to play the Patriots and Steelers, or get all the way to the Super Bowl. But for right now, I’m just enjoying the ride. Because house money is always fun to spend.