Heading into Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans, the Kansas City Chiefs can do more than win their tenth game of the year. They could clinch their first AFC West title since 2003.
If the Chiefs win and the San Diego Chargers lose their late game Sunday at Cincinnati, the fan base will be able to extend their Christmas celebration another day – because the Chiefs will be 2010 AFC West Champions.
And that's really all that matters going forward. We can look back at the previous fourteen games and pick out the highs, the lows, and any other items we so choose. But right now, the singular goal of the fan base is to see their team in the playoffs.
Thus, I pose the question again: are the Chiefs a team of Destiny? The short answer is yes.
How else can you describe the Chiefs' sudden rise to one of the AFC's top six teams? And that's what they are right now. With two more wins, they'll move into the top three.
I've tried to justify in so many ways the Chiefs sudden rise from patsy to contender. A year ago under head coach Todd Haley, there wasn't a single indication this football team could get double digit wins in 2010.
However, the thirst for success within the fan base isn't likely to be perched should the Chiefs fail to make the postseason. In fact, for some there will be a bitter aftertaste.
But no matter what happens in the next two games, the purest of fans have to appreciate the way in which the Chiefs have evolved this season. But moreso, they're simply just due.
That's why I think the Chiefs are, in fact, a team of destiny.
2. KC Has a Franchise QB - After his stellar performance on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, we need to put to rest any negative banter about quarterback Matt Cassel. He is the franchise!
Matt Cassel has grown by leaps and bounds this season.
Without Cassel on the field Sunday, the Chiefs don't win. In fact, they might not have scored a single point. There isn't any question that as Cassel goes, so does the Chiefs.
The guts he displayed in guiding the Chiefs to a must win against the Rams wasn't a thing of beauty. But it didn't need to be. And that's what I like about Cassel. He's had some great games, some average games, and some forgettable games. But in his 13 starts this season, he's 9-4.
And that's all that he should be judged by this season or any season here after. Because Cassel is a very solid quarterback who has earned the respect of his players, coaches – and after the Rams game – the entire Chiefs' fan base.
3. What's up with Bowe? - That's a question I've been asked a lot the last couple of weeks. Ever since he was shut out with zero catches against Denver a few games ago, people want to know why.
At first, I defended him, saying that Broncos corner Champ Bailey just got the best of Bowe that day. But in the Chiefs last pair of road games, Bowe hasn't found the end zone and only has three receptions for a measly 56 yards.
Our good friend Nick Jacobs from , who joins us each week on our Out of Bounds Podcast, pointed out that unless Bowe touches the ball early in games, he's virtually ineffective.
And he makes a good point. In the hot streak that began at Houston and ended in Seattle, he caught a key pass in the first quarter that in most cases helped the Chiefs convert a first down that extended drives.
On Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, Cassel needs to get him involved early. Because it's becoming clear that he just isn't the same receiver unless he's part of the offense from the onset.
Cornerback Brandon Flowers could be next in line to get a contract extension.
4. Next up for a contract extension? - In recent weeks, I've heard a lot said about which player should be next in line to be locked up long term. General Manager Scott Pioli has signed extensions with linebackers Andy Studebaker and Derrick Johnson, long snapper Thomas Gafford, and running back Jamaal Charles.
So who gets a new deal? I'd have to say cornerback Brandon Flowers, linebacker Tamba Hali, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe are all strong candidates. But I'm not sure all three will get extensions any time soon.
The problem with Bowe is more to the point I made about his lack of production the last two weeks. Will Pioli pay him top dollar? I'd say probably not until Bowe proves he can finish out his initial contract in 2011 with the same or better numbers than he'll post in 2010.
Hali wants a new contract, but he's also at a premier position. He's the teams best pass rusher, but he's not very strong against the run. Still, the fact that the team has to rely on sack by committee means Hali's numbers surely give hope that he could get a new deal in Kansas City.
Flowers to me is probably the most deserving. Shutdown cornerbacks are hard to find in the NFL. But the Chiefs need to be careful because they also have a very strong corner playing opposite Flowers by the name of Brandon Carr. If they break the bank for Flowers, will they have enough to re-sign Carr? Remember, both came to the Chiefs in the same draft.
So if I were to guess what Pioli might do to continue to secure his young talent, I'd say Flowers and Hali get new deals before March of 2011. Bowe is just going to have to wait another year for his big payday.
5. NFT: Well Done Mr. Moore - Before the Chiefs lined up to play the Rams on Sunday, the Kansas City Royals made big news when they dealt unhappy and spoiled Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Pitcher Zack Greinke forced the Royals hand and long term Kansas City will likely get the better end of this trade.
In the deal, the Royals also shipped off shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt in exchange for shortstop Alcides Escobar, centerfielder Lorenzo Cain, right handed pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress.
From a football guy, I'd say that Royals general manager Dayton Moore made a nice haul for Greinke. I was never a big fan of Zack because I thought he was never a solid team guy. And if the Royals going forward are going to compete for an AL Central title in 2012 or 2013, they don't need a ‘me' guy like Greinke on the team.
And I think deep down his teammates are going to be relieved that he's gone. First baseman Billy Butler already commented on Zack's departure and said that it was a good thing he was traded before spring training. He said the Royals didn't need any distractions heading down to Surprise, Arizona, in late February.
Still, trading Greinke is a risk, but one Moore had to make. There was no choice and the fact he had three teams give him the parts and pieces that he wanted in return for Greinke tells me he did his homework on what he could expect for making any trade surrounding his former Cy Young Award winner.
Moore had deals done with Washington and Toronto but Greinke rejected both deals. He didn't want to play for the Nationals or the Blue Jays. In other words, he again tried to dictate the terms.
We really won't know what impact this trade will have on the Royals until after the 2011 season. If Escobar and Cain start opening day, Kansas City probably will come out just fine in this trade. Because they get two guys that could play 150 plus games versus a pitcher that can only help the team once in every five games.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Can the Chiefs make a long playoff run?
EDITORS NOTE: Warpaint Illustrated Publisher Nick Athan will be subbing in for Nick Wright on 610 Sports Friday afternoon December 24th from 2:00 to 6:00 PM.