A Sobering Reminder

The Kansas City Chiefs walked out of Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday sitting atop the AFC West, but I just can't shake the thought that things are about to take a turn for the worst.

After all, isn't this the same Kansas City squad that, coming into this season, had lost 38 of their last 48 games? The same Chiefs that had the 25th ranked offense and the 30th ranked defense in 2009? Is this the same awful, no good, perennial loser of a team that hasn't won a playoff game in nearly 16 years?

No, this couldn't be the same Chiefs. This is one of those Twilight Zone shows where the Kansas City football team is replaced by a good spirited alien race from the planet NewEnglandanzia that has taken an intergalactic interest in America's favorite game.

Alright, minus a Scooby Doo de-masking of the fourth kind, we can probably rule out the alien takeover. But how can you explain this drastic turnaround?

The Chiefs currently have the fourth best rushing defense in the AFC, their defense is second in the NFL in terms of points allowed per game (12.7), and they're tied for fourth for sacks with eight. Oh yeah, and did I mention that the Chiefs rushing offense is the very best in football, averaging 160 yards per game?

I am a torn man today. The professional side of my brain tells me this is a fluke. A joke of sorts from the football gods. The Chiefs have rode a very opportunistic special teams and defensive unit to 3 wins, all of which, except a win against a 49ers team that is falling apart at the seams, could have easily been loses.

And don't forget that not even a week ago, the talk around Kansas City was "What are we going to do about our quarterback?"

Backup QB Brodie Croyle was about half a second away from filling in for the struggling Matt Cassel on Sunday. The Chiefs starting QB was terrible in the first quarter and a half before throwing a late, nearly intercepted TD pass to Dexter McCluster. Had that ball been any later, the 49ers linebacker would have taken the Cassel pass for a touchdown, likely changing the course of both the game and Cassel's career.

But DMC made a phenomenal catch-and-run that swung the momentum in the Chiefs' favor. The defense played lights out and running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones put the offense on their backs and the Chiefs rode them to a stunning victory.

The Chiefs hit the road after their week off to face the Colts and Texans, both of which are 2-1 and look very much like playoff contenders. The Chiefs then head home to start a four game stint that features teams with a combined 3-9 record, and it would be the Chiefs' status quo to lose at least one or two of those games.

The fact of the matter is that Cassel has yet to play a complete game at an elite or even average level. At times Cassel looks great, and others like a very fine benchwarmer. If this 3-0 start is anything but a mirage, the Chiefs need to have their franchise QB situation figured out sooner rather than later.

The fan in me says we have seen the worst we are going to see from Cassel already, and his struggles are a thing of the past. The realist in me is saying that Cassel still has jumpy feet and has yet to prove he can be a leader, week in and week out.

Chiefs' nation has two full weeks to savor the flavor of being 3-0 for the first time in seven years. But the reality of being a Chiefs fan will soon set in. The defense will again turn into Swiss cheese. The offensive line will again be in flux as Cassel reaffirms his belief that his line is going to get him killed. And Charlie Weis and Todd Haley will come to blows halfway through the season as the entire crop of rookies turn into busts.

This is the same old losing, disappointing, fall flat on their face Chiefs team that fans have seen for years, and these wins are just a façade.

They couldn't possibly be a real playoff contender.


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