Thursday, October 27, 2011

week eight: all or nothing

“When I first saw you standing there, you know,
It was a little hard not to stare.
So nervous when I drove you home, I know,
Being apart’s a little hard to bear.

Sent some flowers to your work, in hopes
That I could have you in my arms again.
We kissed that night before I left, and still know,
It was something I can never forget.

You’ve got all that I need …

We’re looking at all or nothing,
Babe’s it’s you and I (with you)
I know that I’m good for something,
So let’s go and give it a try (we’ve got)
Our backs against the ocean –
It’s just us against the world!
Looking at all or nothing, babe it’s you and I –
All or nothing, babe it’s you and I …”

“All or Nothing” by Theory of a Deadman.

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Last Week ATS: 8-5-0.
Season to Date ATS: 49-37-4.

Last Week SU: 8-5-0.
Season to Date SU: 49-41-0.

Last Week Upset / Week: FINALLY!
Season to Date Upset / Week ATS: 4-3-0.
Season to Date Upset / Week SU: 1-6.
This Week’s Upset / Week: Jaguars (+10) over Texans. Hey, I called last week’s upset win over Baltimore. I believe in Blaine Gabbert! Actually that’s a lie – I DO NOT believe in the Houston Texans whatsoever …

The Non-Chiefs Predictions:

* at Titans (-10) 24, Colts 3. OK, I’ll ask it: does this mean alleged all-time great peyton manning is this year’s NFL MVP? I’d seriously be tempted to cast a vote for him at this point.

* at Seahawks (+1) 23, Bengals 20. Complete coin flip.

* at 49ers (-9 ½) 34, Browns 14. The 49ers of 2011 are who I thought the 49ers of 2010 would be.

* at Panthers (-3 ½) 26, Vikings 14. As a “progressive Democrat”**, I hesitate to ask this … but was Rush right about Donovan McNabb eight years ago?

* Jaguars (+10) 21, at Texans 17. Suddenly, the AFC South gets very, very interesting.

* at Bills (-5 ½) 45, Redskins 3. There’s no bigger backer of Chan Gailey than me. Then again, there’s no bigger supporter of Herm Edwards than me. So every so often, I can be wr … wr … wr … possibly incorrect.

* at Giants 3, Dolphins (+10 ½) 2. Your “Good Times Game O’ The Week!” And I would not only choose a three hour “Good Times” marathon over this game, I’d PAY for said marathon to be on my television instead of this craptacular matchup.

* at Ravens (-14) 31, Cardinals 3. Say what you want about Matt Cassel … at least we didn’t trade for Kevin Kolb. Or sign Donovan McNabb. Or give up a number one AND either a one or a two for Carson Palmer.

* Saints 34, at Rams (+14) 31. The Rams last stand. They’ll come up just short.

* Patriots (-2 ½) 35, at Steelers 24. If this is a rematch in three months, I’d probably bet the exact opposite.

* at tebows (+3) 24, Lions 23. If ANYONE shows up for the donkeys tailgate on November 13th in ANY tim tebow gear, and I don’t care if its from Florida or denver, you’re getting forcibly evicted and possibly spat on. That man is my most hated player to wear a donkeys jersey since number 7 was roo-eening my 21st birthday. And I hate him for the same reason that I cannot wait to whiz on john elway’s gravestone someday: all the guy does is win.

* Cowboys (+2 ½) 27, at Eagles 21. Road team usually wins in this matchup. That, and even with two weeks to prepare, do you really trust “Fat” Andy Reid to fix that defense?

(**: look it, I know conservatives love to lump anyone who’s not one of them into the “liberal” category, but I am not a liberal. I am a Clinton Democrat, a Southern Democrat so to speak. I’m a hawk on foreign policy. I don’t give a damn about gun control, both extremes are freaking insane. And I am not pro-choice. So how a pro-war, anti-abortion, don’t care about firearms person can be a “liberal”, I have no idea, hence the term “progressive”. Oh, and the Occupy people? Need to get jobs, take a shower, and stop demanding more of my money to finance their lazy asses. And stop defecating on cop cars, it’s disgusting. Although toke up and screw in public all you want Occupy people -- in that regard you’re living the dream …)

The Chiefs Prognostication:

This, quite simply, is THE biggest regular season game the Chiefs have played since January 2nd, 2000. You might recall that day – it is the single greatest sports “what if” in my life, to this day.

raiders 41, Chiefs 38, in overtime.

With that defeat, for all intents and purposes, the “Good Times” came to an end. It was a defeat the Chiefs, to this day, have still never really recovered from. It was all there for the taking – an AFC West divisional championship, an unlikely run through the playoffs, a Show Me State Super Bowl. And the Chiefs whizzed it away, as only they could – blowing a 17-0 lead, allowing a 5th down conversion for a touchdown, the most accurate kicker in the league missing a 45 yard field goal as time expired, and then sending the overtime kickoff out of bounds, putting the raiders instantly in field goal range, which they didn’t waste.

Twelve years later, that game still haunts me.

Which brings me to Monday. This isn’t hyperbole, this isn’t a ridiculous verbal fellation of the situation, it’s reality, and it is this – the fate of the Chiefs season, and possibly the entire franchise for the next 3 to 4 years, rides on the outcome of Monday night’s contest.

If the Chiefs lose, we will know three things on the depressing walk back to the car:

1. The season is over. There’s no other way to put it – the Chiefs CANNOT fall 2 ½ behind San Diego with nine to play, and recover. It’s a trap the Chargers fell into last year, sliding 2 ½ back in week eight. They never drew closer than a game out. And we won’t either.

2. The Matt Cassel era is over. Dead, buried, finished. If the Chiefs lose this game, there is not ONE legitimate reason to continue to start Cassel under center. If the Chiefs lose this game, he is done as the Chiefs quarterback, and the decision should immediately be made to start Ricky Stanzi, see what we’ve got in him for the rest of the way, and tank this season as much as possible.

3. The Todd Haley era is on life support. For what its worth, I completely believe Nick Wright, that Scott Pioli was prepared to fire Todd Haley if we had lost to the Colts. Look it, its obvious that Coach Haley and Scott Pioli don’t get along. Which is fine – Carl and Marty hated each other the last six, seven years they co-existed here, and made it work, because each recognized that the other made them better at their job. With a season-crushing defeat on Monday night, I believe Pioli will scapegoat his coach when this season is over, and go in a new direction. And if he does, it’s the WORST mistake he can possibly make, even worse than passing on Ryan Mallett last April not once, not twice, but three times – three mistakes I still haven’t forgiven him for.

But with a win on Monday night? Here’s what would IMMEDIATELY be true:

1. The Chiefs would be in a three way tie with oakland and San Diego at 4-3. (And I believe denver would stand one game back at 3-4, but essentially drawing dead, having already lost two divisional home games. They switched to tebow one game too late.)

2. The Chiefs would also draw to within a game for a wildcard berth, trailing the Bills and Ravens by a game, and being tied with their AFC West foes and the Jets (who we still play). And

3. For all intents and purposes, however, the Chiefs would be the OVERWHELMING favorites to win the AFC West, because of how they arrived at their 4-3 mark, versus the raiders and Chargers. Here is how each team would have gotten to 4-3:

Chargers: W vs Vikings, L at Patriots, W vs Chiefs, W vs Dolphins, W at broncos, L at Jets, L at Chiefs.

raiders: W at broncos, L at Bills, W vs Jets, L vs Patriots, W at Texans, W vs Browns, L vs Chiefs.

Chiefs: L vs Bills, L at Lions, L at Chargers, W vs Vikings, W at Colts, W at raiders, W vs Chargers.

What instantly jumps out at you about San Diego’s 4-3 record, should be that of the four “layup” wins both KC and San Diego had entering the season, the Chargers have already won three of them … while the Chiefs haven’t played ANY of the three games against Miami and denver yet (we have beaten Minnesota at home).

And as for oakland? They’ve had two of their “layup” wins as well, against the broncos and the Browns. However, they play the opposite non-divisional schedule of the Chiefs and Chargers. So while KC and San Diego get a home crowd to help them against Green Bay, oakland has to travel to Green Bay. (They also have to travel to Minnesota, which could be dicey, versus beating an awful McNabb led Vikings team at home).

And oh yeah, that Chargers / Packers game? Is next Sunday, on a short week … and followed up by an EXTREMELY short week, as the raiders and Chargers open the Thursday night football schedule.

The Chiefs next two after this one? Winless Miami, followed by “The Game I Live For” against the hated, despised, reviled denver tebows.

The Chiefs? It is extremely likely we will be one clear of both San Diego and oakland, and possibly two clear of at least one of them, if we win this game Monday night, when we roll into Foxboro to face the likely one seed in the AFC, the Patriots, three weeks from Monday.

To win this game Monday night, is going to require a lot. Let’s be honest – the Chargers are favored for a reason, and it’s a credible and valid one. They have more available talent to throw onto the field of play in four days. They have the better quarterback. At this moment, they have the better running game. They have a difference maker returning at tight end. And their defense is pretty solid.

What they don’t have … is us. The Arrowhead crowd. And I firmly believe we will win this game, and yes, I used the term “we”, because as Chiefs fans we know – no team gets more mileage out of its home crowd than our guys do. (denver used to, but thank God they screwed up with the new stadium and destroyed their incredible home field advantage.)

There’s a reason why teams are intimidated to play here. Because we’re loud. Because we’re passionate. Because we genuinely believe we can make the difference between winning and losing. And we believe that for good reason – because we have made the difference between winning and losing so many times, that we can will this team to an upset victory.

Even at our lowest point as a franchise, the fanbase willed this team to victories it had no business winning. We upset the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers in 2009. We beat an unbeaten (at the time) broncos team in 2008, a loss that ultimately cost denver a playoff berth, and shanarat his job.

And we did it a year ago against these guys. In a freaking monsoon, 70,000 plus of us stood and yelled as one, long after Monday turned into Tuesday. The Chiefs that night … we sucked folks. We freaking stunk up the joint. And yet, with under a minute to play, the Chiefs held the lead, the Chargers had goal to go, and only one thing made the difference between winning (and jump-starting an amazing division winning season) and losing (and being exactly what we’d been for the three previous years: sh*tty.)

And that something was us, the fanbase.

Monday night, I’m asking you, I’m begging you, I’m pleading with you, if you give even 2/1000ths of a sh*t about this team, don’t go to your lame Halloween party. Send the kids trick or treating with random strangers. You have a job and a duty to do as a self-described Chiefs fan, and that job and duty is to land your ass inside Arrowhead, ready to scream for three hours, longer if necessary, and somehow will this team to a victory it probably isn’t good enough to earn on its own.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of dig seasons that come out of nowhere. I mean, I loved the hell out of 2003 along with every other Chiefs fan … but there’s a reason why 1995 is my favorite Chiefs season of all time. That 1995 team had maybe six win talent. Seven if everything broke right.

That team won on guts, courage, and the backbone of the League’s best fanbase. I know it’s been sixteen years, but I still recall moments from that season like it happened an hour ago. Steve Bono not only rumbling 76 yards untouched on a bootleg for a touchdown … but leading not one, not two, but THREE straight come-from-behind to win in overtime home comebacks – from down 14 to the Giants with 5 minutes to play, down 14 to the raiders with 7 minutes to play, and down 7 to the team we face Monday night with 1:12 on the clock, 88 yards away, with no timeouts.

That Monday night in October, was my favorite game, from my favorite season. And after Bono calmly, coolly directed the Chiefs those 88 yards with seven seconds to spare, hitting Derrick Walker with a 19 yard touchdown pass to tie the score, well, it makes sense that my favorite game from my favorite season, would yield ...

My favorite play of all time.

(al michaels) the rookie Vanover …
(frank gifford) boy did he loft that one …
(al michaels) he fields at the fourteen yard line …
(frank gifford) Uh Oh!!!
(al michaels) Vanover … up past the thirty!
(frank gifford) HE’S GONE!
(al michaels) Vanover is almost gone and now … he … is … OFFICIALLY GONE!
(dan dierdorf) NO FLAGS!
(frank gifford) We’ve been talking about him all night –
(dan dierdorf) NO FLAGS! THIS GAME’S OVER!!!

What gets lost, what gets overlooked, in the replay of this call, is three fold:

1. It is the first, and to this date the only, punt return in overtime for a touchdown in NFL history. It had NEVER happened before in the prior 76 years of the NFL’s existence … and it has never occurred again in the sixteen years since.

2. The single loudest moment in Arrowhead history, is the moment when Al Michaels notes “officially gone!” It is not POSSIBLE to put into words how LOUD Arrowhead got at that moment, slightly after midnight on a Tuesday morning. As loud as Tuesday Morning Football was last year? It was NOTHING compared to that night. Because

3. NOBODY had left. And nobody did for a while afterwards.

Monday night, we once again face our hated divisional rivals, on a Monday night, at the loudest stadium in the NFL. Last year was certainly memorable – we saw long touchdown runs, a punt return for a touchdown, and an epic goalline stand that launched the Chiefs to a division championship.

Sixteen years ago was certainly memorable – an epic goalline stand inside the two minute warning to hold San Diego to three, an 80 plus yard touchdown drive to tie, and a play never before seen or since replicated in the history of the league for the win.

I have no idea what we’re going to see Monday night. But I know this – I ain’t missing it. And I hope you won’t either. If you need a place to tailgate, we’re welcoming anyone and everyone rooting for the Red and Gold. The menu is Charger Chicken and whatever side dishes folks bring. (And LOTS of “liquid refreshment” to “properly medicate” the vocal chords before hand.) We’ll be there when the gates open. We’ll save you however many spots you need to park, just let us know.

Let me close with this. Twenty one years ago, the biggest underdog in sports history took the ice, against its hated “rival”, with the eyes of the nation upon it. In possibly the greatest pregame speech every delivered, US Hockey coach Herb Brooks opened as subtly as possible.

“Great moments can only arise from great opportunity. And that is what you have here tonight gentlemen. One game. If we played them ten times, they’d win nine. But not this game, gentlemen. NOT tonight.

“Tonight, you are the greatest hockey team in the world. This is YOUR time! Their time? Is over! They’re done, they’re finished. I’m sick of hearing about how great a team the Soviets have. F*CK THEM! It’s your time now. Go out there and EARN this!”

Monday night, the Chargers dominance on this division is over. It’s finished. I’m sick and tired of hearing about all the talent the Chargers have. F*CK THEM! Monday night, the Chiefs will earn this win. They will earn their way back into the thick of the AFC playoff race. And hopefully, they’ll earn it with you in the stands, cheering, urging them to this victory that they have EARNED the opportunity to gain.

At Chiefs (+3 ½) 29, Chargers 23.

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