Red Thursday

It seems like years ago, but once upon a time in 2007, Kansas City Chiefs fans had hope. The name of the day was Red Friday, two days before the home opener at Arrowhead Stadium against the Minnesota Vikings.

Kansas City was filled with people wearing red that day. The Chiefs were 0-2, but there was a sense the team could get back on track with an upcoming glut of home games. After all, Herm Edwards had been in the same situation in 2006, only to see his squad rebound.

Red Friday was no fluke, as Arrowhead was packed to the gills for that weekend's game, and the fans roared from beginning to end. They were rewarded with Dwayne Bowe's coming-out party, Jared Allen's season debut, and a dramatic, come-from-behind victory, as the Chiefs won 13-10.

Yes, there was hope that day.

Twelve weeks later? The hope is gone, replaced by desolation. Merry Christmas? Bah humbug, say Chiefs fans.

Elsewhere, such holiday gloom does not prevail. Specifically, Houston, where the Texans kept alive their slim playoff hopes Thursday night by ending those of the Denver Broncos, 31-13. Houston stands at a mediocre 7-7, but you wouldn't know it if you walked downtown this week.

In fact, I did just that this week. There was so much red around town, you'd have thought you were in Kansas City had it not been for the mild temperatures (no ice storms down South). Thursday night, the Texans were draped in all-red uniforms.

The comparison doesn't end at color. This week, the entire Texans team signed a "battle red" smoker, which will be auctioned off at the end of the year, with proceeds going to the Houston Texans Foundation. The charity smoker isn't alone, either – check out the parking lot at Reliant Stadium on any Sunday, and you'll find a tailgating scene that rivals Arrowhead's.

Then Thursday night's game began. The Texans, again, entered the night at 6-7. They started some guy named Sage at quarterback. Ron Dayne figured to be a key player in the offensive backfield. No matter – Reliant was sold out, the crowd was in full force, and they voiced passion for their fledgling franchise all night long.

Another NFL franchise stealing Kansas City's color, barbecue and college-atmosphere traditions? Say it ain't so.

This is where in the similarities end, however. On the field, the Texans played with passion – you know, the way Herm Edwards wants his players to play? A Houston defense that hadn't exactly been dominant this year still managed to hold Denver's fifth-ranked offense to 13 points and – most importantly – 72 rushing yards.

Meanwhile, Dayne and company got Houston's usually-anemic ground game cranked up, running over the Broncos for 158 yards and three touchdowns.

The point is, Houston's valiant effort Thursday night bore no resemblance to the one we saw in Denver from the Chiefs four days earlier.

Yes, Red Thursday was good for Houston. The Texans have struggled to establish themselves in the NFL, and fans down here need something to believe in, especially after the Oilers up and left for Tennessee and the Astros fell just short of a championship a couple seasons ago. Thursday gave long-suffering Houston faithful some hope.

It's not pie-in-the-sky hope either, because it's a foregone conclusion the Texans will be lucky to win a playoff game this year, much less enter the postseason tournament. It's hope for the future.

Gary Kubiak looks like one of the best young head coaches in the league. Despite a lack of talent outside Andre Johnson, Houston's offense is playing well. Kubiak has "some guy named Sage" playing almost as well as Damon Huard did in Kansas City a year ago.

Defensively, the Texans are assembling an all-star cast of talent. Mario Williams destroyed Denver's offense Thursday with 3.5 sacks. Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans is following up his stellar rookie season with another good year, Dunta Robinson continues to establish himself as one of the top young corners in the league, and 20-year old Amobi Okoye, despite hitting the rookie wall recently, has lived-up to his first-round selection so far.

And to top it all off, you should see the cheerleaders down here. Forget KC's offensive line – if Carl Peterson can send a second-round pick to Houston for the rights to five or six of these girls, pull the trigger.

To put it bluntly, the Texans are an NFL franchise on an upswing. In comparison, the Chiefs look stagnant, despite similar levels of talent on the field.

Yes, the Texans gave their fans hope on Red Thursday. Lately, all the Chiefs have given their fans is scorn.

Heck, can we get the Texans to move up to Kansas City and start playing football? It worked out okay the first time.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories