The latest spread in Vegas for the Monday night opener has the Chiefs as a 4.5 point underdog against the Chargers, and why not? For years, the Chiefs have consistently been among the worst in the league, and teams with 4-12 records don't tend to get a lot of hype on a national scale. But anyone following the Chiefs throughout the offseason knows that this team could have the makings of something special.
The Chiefs added marquee coaches like Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. During the draft they added playmakers like Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster, and Javier Arenas. Returning players such as Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey, Jovan Belcher, Andy Studebaker, and Derrick Johnson had great offseasons and appear to be inspired in 2010. But is it really time to jump on the Chiefs bandwagon?
Monday night will be a good test, but let's not assume the team is over the hump if the Chiefs can actually walk away with a victory. The Chiefs are in the midst of building something very special, but what is ultimately going to turn this team into a playoff contender is bringing "it" on a weekly basis.
Todd Haley has said over and over again that he does not want "yo-yo players". One that has gotten the message is Tamba Hali. Getting about as close to gloating as Haley can, the head coach was obviously happy with the progress of Hali a year removed from converting from a defensive end to linebacker.
As the teams best linebackers, Hali and Johnson need to have a breakout performance Monday Night.
"He wants to be a part of this team succeeding, and he shows that everyday" said Haley. "You see him make continued progress... (he's) clearly one of our best players from a consistency point of view".
It's when Haley starts throwing praise like this at guys like Johnson, Jackson, and Cassel that we as Chiefs fans can really start getting excited about this team's progress.
However, there is a fine line between progress and consistency that players like Derek Lokey and former special teams standout Monty Beisel know all too well. If this team wants to emerge in the NFL as a major contender year-in and year-out, they need to
compete at a high level every single week.
It all starts on main stage of Monday Night Football.
If the Chiefs can pull off a win against their division rivals the San Diego Chargers, it will create a momentum shift that Kansas City could ride for weeks. This will only happen, however, if we see players like Jackson, Johnson, and Cassel play up to their potential.
But if any of these players don't show up Monday night, the losing ways around Kansas City are sure to remain the same.