Take that San Diego

ST. LOUIS, MO - Say what you want about the Kansas City Chiefs' convincing 27- 13 road win over the St. Louis Rams, but it has to be said: this football team took a major step forward in the eyes of many, especially those resting in San Diego.

On Friday morning, Chiefs nation wasn't in the best of moods. The night before, the San Diego Chargers crushed the San Francisco 49ers 34-7, putting them one half game out of first place in the AFC West. That meant Kansas City had to defeat the Rams on Sunday or they would have fallen into second place within the division.

And early on Sunday afternoon, things weren't looking good for the Chiefs' chances to do that. After Rams' rookie quarterback Sam Bradford led his team on a pair of drives that resulted in two Kris Brown field goals, everyone was worried that the team that was blanked a week ago 31-0 was about to repeat that feat.

Then, when trailing 6-0 in the first quarter, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel threw his first interception. And suddenly the task ahead seemed nearly impossible.

But the defense took over the game at that point, shutting down the Rams' offense. Then Cassel redeemed himself on a long touchdown drive that resulted in a two-yard pass to tight end Leonard Pope.

And that single score gave notice to the San Diego Chargers that on this day, the Chiefs had heart. It spoke volumes about the fight they had within themselves. And even further, it said they weren't going to worry what their AFC West rival did three days earlier.

Because with their big win on Sunday in front of nearly 30,000 Chiefs fans inside the Edwards Jones Dome, they once again found the fight to rebound after another disappointing loss.

But it goes beyond that.

Right before our very eyes, this football team is growing up. They've exceeded everyone's expectations and in turn have told the Chargers, who must finish the season with road games at Cincinnati and Denver, that they're not the team to beat for the AFC West.

That right belongs to the Chiefs.

Safety Eric Berry had another solid performance for the Chiefs on Sunday.
Getty Images

Now they have a huge advantage, playing their final two games at Arrowhead as they attempt to close out their first AFC West title since 2003.

Of course, they have to win them both to host a playoff game at home the weekend of January 8th or 9th. And you'd think their chances are pretty good. They stand 6-0 at Arrowhead this season, but they can't take anything for granted. The Tennessee Titans and the Oakland Raiders aren't going to just let the Chiefs win these games.

Head coach Todd Haley has said all season long that his football team still isn't among the elite in the NFL. But now, though he still likely isn't going to say it publicly, he has to know that with the way his team rallied around Cassel, and the way they fell behind early in this game, he has a pretty good football team on his hands.

After this win on Sunday, I'm going to say that Haley has wrapped up NFL coach of the year honors. What he did this week in getting his team ready to play this game and executing a game plan that put his team in position for victory, was nothing short of remarkable.

Since Friday the national experts kept talking about the Chargers as if they were the team to beat in the AFC West. And when the topic of the first place Chiefs came up in conversations, outside of a handful of people, not many felt that Kansas City could indeed win the division.

Now the Chiefs are in the catbird seat.

The Chargers now have to remove themselves from the cozy confines of Qualcom stadium and travel to a pair of northern cities that will force them to play their best football of the season.

Kansas City gets to come home for the holidays and can take care of business without worrying about San Diego.

And should the Chargers lose on Sunday to the Bengals and the Chiefs win a titanic game over the Titans, then Kansas City fans can extend Christmas for one more day.

Because their team will be champs of the AFC West!

So will the Chiefs win the West?

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