There is more on the line today for the Chiefs than facing the Broncos for a chance to win the AFC West. Playoff home field advantage is also on the line but that's not even what's at stake today for Kansas City.
Today the Chiefs have a chance to establish themselves as the next dominant AFC team. The Oakland Raiders had held that honor until they imploded this season. For the last three years the Raiders were the most dominant and feared team in the NFL. Despite the fact they flopped in the Super Bowl a year ago, teams played their best games against the Raiders and for the most part Oakland won out.
Well that run is over and the Chiefs with a win in Denver today can set forth a new dynasty. Not since the Chiefs were one of the most dominating teams in the 1960's has the NFL taken this much notice of football in Kansas City.
For the most part the Chiefs have been at the top or near the top in every NFL power poll and ranking. They've earned respect based on their 11-1 record to date but they've also been called frauds, over-rated and have had to struggle to gain respect from the media and players around the NFL.
To a degree they have a point but they're basing that bias, prejudice or jealousy on the fact the Chiefs have fizzled out in the playoffs since the 1969 season. History has a lot to do with the NFL. Trends only change after dramatic developments.
In Kansas City that might have finally happened.
The 2003 team is not the same won that laid eggs in the regular season and playoffs from 1971 to 1998. They have the difference maker in Dick Vermeil. They also have the most balanced team in the NFL that was built around high character guys.
Still most experts think the Chiefs will fall in the playoffs. But Kansas City can change that perception with a win today in Denver.
Now the 2003 version of the Denver Broncos is not going to scare any opponent. They certainly are not feared by the Chiefs. Yes they respect them but Kansas City has more talent at every position and the Chiefs are on the rise. While the Broncos season is slipping away from them after injuries and failure to execute efficiently on game days.
The Broncos are favored today by nearly three points depending on your betting line or bookmaker. However, point spreads mean very little in the NFL. Today is a turning point for the Kansas City Chiefs. A win today in Denver will go a long ways to changing the mindsets of the media and fans.
We've already dissected the X's and O's of the game. In the players on the field should decide the outcome of the game. In the end the Coaches will not have anything to do with the outcome nor should the officials.
Today Kansas City has a chance to set the table for a strong playoff run. They also have the opportunity to set forth a new era in Kansas City Chiefs football. Dick Vermeil and his troops need to play this game like it's the last one of the season. They need to play with a passion all four quarters of the game and they need to execute their game plan.
They must understand the importance of today's game. This is a franchise turning game. At 3:15 PM today, we'll find out if their up to the task.
Top 10 Keys To the Game
1. Kansas City's defense must contain Broncos running back Clinton Portis. If the Chiefs can limit his big runs and keep him in the middle of the field, then they can limit him to 100 plus yards. If that happens, that should be enough to keep him in check.
2. Jake Plummer has shown zero ability this season in performing at a high level in a big game. Even though he's been injured his performance against the Chicago Bars two weeks ago has the Broncos worried. The Chiefs need to contain Plummer in the pocket and make him throw the ball inside the tackles. They can't let him get outside and throw on the run.
3. Trent Green needs to put last weeks two interception performance behind him. Green does have the ability to throw in cold weather but he'll need to be on his ‘A' game to beat the Broncos. Green needs to stay within the offense and occasionally throw a deep pass to keep the Broncos secondary honest.
4. Priest Holmes needs to have a his best game of the season. There is little doubt that Holmes is looking forward to this game. Last year he was injured against the Broncos and before the season began; Holmes circled this game on the schedule. Denver did a decent job bottling up Holmes in the first game but he knows what's at stake today.
5. Since Eddie Kennison blasted Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan earlier this week, he needs to back up his comments by having a strong game. No one on the Chiefs roster of wide receivers has dropped more passes than Kennison. He can make the spectacular catch but has problems with the easy passes. That has to change today. Expect him to get some looks early today.
6. Tony Gonzalez wants to show fellow tight end Shannon Sharpe that he's at the top of his game. Sharpe has been playing at an All-Pro level and has had his best season in many years in 2003. Sharpe needs to be shadowed by the Chiefs as he is Plummer's only real option in the passing game. Gonzalez has had some of his better games against Denver and he needs to grab as many passes as he can to take the pressure off Holmes and the rest of the wide receivers.
7. The good thing about punter Jason Baker is that he's kicking in the Mile High air so he should get off some booming punts. Baker has been under siege by his coach and the fans and needs a great game today to boost his confidence.
8. Today features the best two place kickers in the NFL. The Chiefs Morten Andersen and the Broncos Jason Elam each have the ability to kick game winning field goals. Elam has much better range but Andersen in the Denver air should get an extra five to ten yards on his field goal attempts.
9. Kansas City linebackers Scott Fujita, Shawn Barber and rookie Kawika Mitchell need to play their best game as a unit. Fujita and Barber need to blitz often in obvious passing situations and Mitchell needs to come of age today. With the injury to Mike Maslowski lingering, Mitchell the heir apparent to the Middle Linebacker spot must have a great game.
10. The Chiefs won't have to worry about the Denver home crowd. Invesco field is not near as intimidating as that of Mile High. The stadium does not shake like at Mile High and the Broncos fans have had little to cheer about at home this season with losses to the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears and near losses to the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chiefs have only lost once on the road this season.
Injury Notes :
OUT : LB Monty Beisel (Groin)
LB Quinton Caver (back)
LB Mike Maslowski (knee)
DE Eddie Freeman (toe)
DE Vonnie Holliday (shoulder)
RB Priest Holmes (shoulder)
LB Fred Jones (ribs)
DT Montique Sharpe (ankle)
DT Ryan Sims (elbow)
T Marcus Spears (foot)
G Brian Waters (shoulder)
WR Chris Cole.
WR Ed McCaffrey (quadriceps)
C Tom Nalen (ankle)
G Dan Neil (thumb)
TE Jeb Putzier (shoulder)
T Ephraim Salaam (knee)
TE Shannon Sharpe (ribs)
CB Jimmy Spencer (leg)
LB Al Wilson (neck)