In less than 24 hours, the Tennessee Titans will invade Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs. In years past, the Chiefs held a monstrous home field advantage that made it nearly impossible for teams to win on the west side of the Show Me State.
However, the last few years have been kind to visiting teams. The Chiefs lost three games at Arrowhead last season and before that, well it’s just far too many to count. If the Chiefs have any designs on being competitive in the AFC West this season, or further have hopes for a repeat playoff birth, going 7-1 or 8-0 at home is essential.
Granted with the likes of the New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks invading Arrowhead stadium this season, that task looms large. However, if Head Coach, Andy Reid, is going to work his magic with his 2014 rendition of the Chiefs, winning games at home have to be played as if they’re post-season games. In other words, winner takes all.
No matter how you slice it the AFC is still the stepchild of the NFC. Thus the Chiefs can’t let down at home because that’s where the fate of their January playoff hopes reside. For me in 2014, if the Chiefs want to be taken seriously, getting into the post season is all that matters for this franchise right now.
Forget what happened a year ago, forget it’s probably a rebuilding season, there is more than enough talent in Kansas City right now to compete with the Broncos and Chargers for the division title. Further, should they win seven or eight games at Arrowhead this year, they’ll be a certainty to make the post season.
That makes Sunday’s contest against the Tennessee Titans a season setting opportunity. After this weekend, the Chiefs face the Broncos and Miami Dolphins on the road, then the Patriots on a Monday night clash at home before topping off the toughest part of their schedule with a road contest against the San Francisco 49ers.
To say the Titans game is the lay up in which the Chiefs need to sink, might be a wicked understatement. Tennessee is an average NFL team that’s going to take time to develop. However, they have enough talent on defense to create havoc in facing the Chiefs offense.
On the flip side, if Locker, plays above his abilities, he’ll challenge a Chiefs secondary that has yet to show it can handle the type of quarterbacks they’re going to face in September and October.
If the Chiefs take care of business on Sunday, as I suspect they will in front of the home crowd, they can gain some momentum heading into Denver next weekend. If not, suddenly that becomes a must win game or they could spend the rest of the season in chase mode. That’s simply something this team can’t afford to do if they hope to end their long-standing playoff-winning drought.
Reid has his work cut out for him this season. However, this isn’t the least talented team he’s coached who made a deep playoff run. Reid is one of the best regular season coaches in the NFL. He knows how to get the most out of his guys and they all believe in what he tells them.
Thanks to Reid the Chiefs won’t enter any game this season unprepared. That doesn’t mean they’ll win more games than they lose but this team won’t quit or give up as long as Reid is on the sidelines. What he’s done in Kansas City in short order is still a remarkable achievement considering how far down the NFL chain this team was after the 2012 season.
Still, he’s going to have to do his best coaching to make his players understand the importance of finishing games regardless of the talent level on the other side of the field. They could not do that a year ago in crunch time so the finishers moniker was a constant off-season theme leading up to Sunday’s home opener against the Titans.
So what happens on Sunday at Arrowhead stadium, has significant consequences on the remainder of the season. A win of any kind, even by the slimmest of margins or via a blowout, matters very little to the Chiefs.
They simply just need to win this football game.
Photos: John Rieger USA Today Sports
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