Let's get one thing clear: the story will not be about the Kansas City Chiefs.
It doesn't matter how the Chiefs perform on Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots in Week 4. The story will not be about them. Win or lose. Blowout or upset. The Chiefs will be a regional subject only, with the national media ignoring them to sway things one way or the other, all in regard to their opponent. 'Tis the result of winning. Lots and lots of winning.
Sure, the announcers will mention the noise of Arrowhead Stadium. They will extol Andy Reid as one of the NFL's best head coaches. Also mentioned, in no particular order, will be the steady hand of Alex Smith, the elite ability of Jamaal Charles, the promise of Travis Kelce, the tremendous pass rush with Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, and the mention of the injuries suffered by the team so far. They'll talk enough about Kansas City to move through an hours-long broadcast. And then they'll be done.
Tom Brady and the Patriots will be the story on Tuesday, win or lose. If they win, the talk will be something about "Touchdown Tom being back" or "the Patriot Way". The Pats will be 3-1 and, though they might look different, they still find ways to win. The Pats are amazing. Tom still has plenty in the tank. Could they challenge the Denver Broncos for the AFC title? We'll keep talking about it.
But even if the Patriots lose in Arrowhead, they'll still remain the subject. Just flip all of the aforementioned talking points around, and you'll find your news segments for this coming Tuesday. Has Tom Brady lost it? Has age taken over? Are we witnessing the beginning of the end?
Even if the Chiefs dominate on Monday Night, they will not be the subject. They've not earned that right, whether it's "right" or not. This is what happens when one team owns several Super Bowl rings (and even more appearances) and the other is a roller coaster of results. From the first pick in the draft to the playoffs, the Chiefs have a lot of work to do to be taken seriously as a primary talking point in the national media after so much back and forth. Even this season is the same -- are the Chiefs the team that was blown out by the Titans or the ones who routed the Dolphins in South Beach?
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the real coverage will not begin until after a win in Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers. If the team loses, of course, then the Chiefs still won't be talked about, but if the team can somehow pull together and stay healthy enough to beat the Patriots on Monday and the Niners six days later at Levi's Stadium, they will suddenly become a major talking point as a potential playoff team.
That might seem a tall order to put together back-to-back wins against two tough opponents, but that's what it will take to get the nation to acknowledge the Chiefs. And certainly, no matter what happens on Monday, the focus will be all on New England when Tuesday rolls around.