The last time the Kansas City Chiefs put a bow on its preseason package with an unbeaten record — 6-0 in the summer of ’69, just like Bryan Adams called it — a few months later, they wound up winning the Super Bowl.
So there ya go. Conclusions, jump away.
But keep this in mind, too: It’s a different game (ish). Certainly a different time. A different tempo. As Jordan Raanan over at NJ.com pointed out at this time a year ago, from 2009-2013, of the 10 NFL teams to run the table through their exhibition slates, seven missed the postseason entirely. And only one — the 2013 Seahawks — actually went on to win their division when it counted.
So preseason “perfection” is, more often than not, complete bunk.
Of course, that Seattle bunch two years ago eventually won the whole shebang, too.
And even if recent history shows an unbeaten NFL preseason to be an unabashedly mixed blessing, in Kansas City, it’s anything but. The Chiefs just wrapped only their fourth ever unbeaten exhibition run (’60, ’66, ’69) and actually tagged three winning campaigns onto the heels of the first three, with a combined regular-season record of 30-11-1 and two Super Bowl berths.
So Chiefs 24, Rams 17 is an asterisk any way you want to slice it. The question is how large, and only time can sort that particular bad boy out. Time and context.
That said, with the exception of maybe the first two drives of the first preseason tilt in Arizona, this much is true of The Andy Gang: They’ve generally held serve — and, on occasion, dominated — darn near anything that’s been thrown at them over the past four weeks. The Cardinals are, on paper, the nearest thing Seattle has to a division chaser. The Seahawks are the Seahawks. The Titans are not. The Rams are better, at least in theory, yet relocation soap operas tend to leave a mark.
August is to the regular season what a waltz is to the Foo Fighters, but better to offer up a quick pulse before Labor Day than none at all. Skeptics will scoff — after all, Peyton Manning holds a Faustian contract on all Chiefs fans’ souls — at the locals’ enthusiasm, but there’s this stat, too: During the second half of four 2015 preseason contests, Kansas City outscored opponents by a count of 48-12.
So even if you don’t think 4-0 during the preseason means this rosteris the real deal, its depth — quality depth — most certainly is.
Still, the “right 53” can only sail a ship so far, and the ultimate destination, as we know, is going to come down to the coach, the quarterback and the defense — not necessarily in that order. Chiefs fans trust two of the three, and yet it was the one element they didn’t trust — Alex Smith at quarterback — that looked better than the other two when the club last danced on the postseason stage.
That was then, this is now, and now is a blank slate again. The Chiefs were also unbeaten in the preseason of ’66 (4-0), and used that as a launch pad for a date with the NFL’s dynasty of the moment, the Green Bay Packers, in what became, retroactively, Super Bowl I. A lot of Gatorade has passed under a lot of bridges since, of course. Although every time you see that gold “50” at midfield, you can’t help but wonder if a little déjà vu wouldn’t be the perfect way to celebrate.