Sunday, November 10, 2013

week ten: the calm before the storm

"Aah!  You should hurry –
You should let her know how you feel.
Aah!  Now don’t you worry –
If you’re scared this love is for real?

You should hear how she talks about you –
You should hear what she said!
She said she would be lost without you –
She’s half out of her head!

(Out of her head!)

You should hear how she talks about you –
She just can’t get enough!
She said she would be lost without you –
She is really in love!

(She is really in love!)”

-- "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" by Melissa Manchester.  Yes, she played Blossom's mother on that craptacular sitcom.  Yes, she originally performed the song that Diana DeGarmo nailed to (reggie jackson voice) "second (bleeping) base", in season three of "American Idol".  Having said that ... 


Happy Picks Posting Day, peoples and peepettes!  This is always my least favorite Sunday of the season, the week the Red and Gold face an opponent only “Sur” William Callahan – and possibly Mike Tice – could lose to, those grizzled ol’ veterans named “Bye”.  

And this year?  My other team also faces that same mean, cruel opponent this week. 

(Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Yeah, I was thinking Sunday sounds like laundry day too, actually.

Let’s do this!

Last Week ATS: 4-9-0.
Season to Date ATS: 61-70-2.

Last Week SU: 7-6-0.
Season to Date SU: 78-55-0.

“The Voice of Reason” Last Week: 5-8-0.
“The Voice of Reason” Season to Date: 57-73-3.

(Note: Mr. Reason does not pick straight up winners.)

“Screw You Pete King” Upset O’ The Week Last Week: only I could pick two prime-time dogs, and have one of them blow a 24-6 third quarter lead after their head coach collapses with a stroke.  But hey, the Bears won outright! 
“Screw You Pete King” Upset O’ The Week Season to Date: 4-8.
This Week’s “Screw You Pete King” Upset O’ The Week: (stevo sighing).  Do I haul it out this week, or next week?  Those five magical words, when I truly buy all-in to a team’s season?  Do I haul it out this week, or next week?  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Well fine!  What do you think, Ms. Non-Existent Stevo’s Site Numero Dos’ Editor Dudette?  Press my luck, or pass?  (Pause).  (stevo sighing.)  My thoughts too.  Send those spins to the second place contestant, Peter!  Let them press their luck!  Panthers (+6) to shock the 49ers.

The Non-Jets, Non-Chiefs, Fidelity Ad Guy Memorial “Why Not” Uneducated Guesses:

(Note: as always, all lines are pulled from Danny Sheridan via USA Today.  Danny Sheridan: Stevo’s Site Numero Dos’ Official Wagering Authority!)

* Redskins (-1) 26, at Vikings 14. The Redskins – who opened 1-4, could be one back at this time next week, kids.  As could the Giants, who opened 0-6.  And the Eagles could be all alone in first place.  The NFC East!  This year’s Bill Murray in “Tootsie” Memorial “That Is One Nutty Hospital!” Division!!!

* at Titans (-12) 31, Jaguars 13.  Speaking of nutty, how big of a cluster(muck) are we going to get for the six seed in the AFC?  I mean, four seeds are already wrapped up – the AFC West winner is probably going to have home field advantage, the other will be the first wildcard.  The Colts and Pats are locked into 2/3 in some order.  The Bengals can all but wrap up the AFC Norris if they win Sunday. 

But for the six seed?  You’ve got the Jets at 5-4, the Titans, Chargers, and Dolphins at 4-4, the raiders (cake schedule remaining) at 3-5, and the Bills (ditto) at 3-6.  I know I am giddy with glee at figuring out a six way tie at 8-8 come December 29th!

* at Packers (-1) 24, Eagles 21.  I’m not sold on it though.  Speaking of things I’m not sold on, this one has been bugging me all week.

Flash back to week twelve, 1996.  This (at the time) hot as holy hell nineteen year old college sophomore spent his Monday night inside Texas Stadium, watching the Cowboys and Packers wage one of their classic battles from the mid-1990s. 

This was a Cowboys team that was your defending Super Bowl champion, but had opened 1-3, was down 10-0 at the Vet on a Monday night in week five, and was starting Deion Sanders and Herschel Walker at wide receiver due to Kevin Williams’ injury and Michael Irvin’s five game suspension for doing blow with some “self employed models” at the Doubletree off Airport Freeway and Estes.  It was the last heroic gasp of the last dynasty the league will likely ever see, and it wasn’t going all that well.  Good times!

And this was a Packers team that had lost to Dallas in the NFC Title game the year before, and would go on to reach the next two Super Bowls, winning the first, then tragically letting that classless jackass patrick j. bowlen shout his repulsive “This One’s for john!!!” exclamation that to this day, makes me hurl.

The Cowboys did not score a touchdown that night … but then again, neither did the Packers.  The ‘Boys led 18-6, and had the ball with less than a minute to go, in field goal range. 

Up to this moment, the most field goals made in a game was six.  Trotting out Chris Boniol for a gimme seventh would be classless, tasteless, and disgraceful.  It would be running up the score on a hated rival.

Did Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer send Ol’ Chris out there for that attempt?  OF COURSE HE DID!  And the kick was good, and to this day, Chris Boniol holds the record for most field goals made in a game (although Rob Bironas would tie him, in a game at Reliant in (I believe) 2011).

My point is this: Eagles quarterback Nick Foles threw for seven touchdowns last week in the black hole.  He had nearly an entire quarter to do what no NFL quarterback has ever done before: throw an eighth in a game.  And Eagles coach Chip Kelly chose to not go for it.

Circle me furious, Bert, at Mr. Kelly’s display of class, decorum, and decency.  We need more Barry Switzer’s on the NFL sideline, that is for damned sure.  Because you know Ol’ Bar wouldn’t have just let Mr. Foles throw numero ocho, he’d have tried an onside kick to give him a chance, at numero nueve.

* at Steelers 27, Bills (+3) 26.  Feels like a field goal game.  And most definitely is your Gordon Shumway Game O’ The Week!!!

* at Giants 28, raiders (+7 ½) 21.  Thanks for the half point, Danny!  The Giants are going to be interesting to watch coming down the stretch.  If they get this one, to get back to 3-6, this is what they have left: a roadie to Chicago next week (winnable), and their last six include two with the ‘Skins, hosting the Cowboys and Packers, visiting the Fake Vet, and they open December at Carolina.  I can see 8-8 out of that, if they win Sunday.  And 8-8 is winning the NFC East.

No NFL team has ever started worse than 0-4, and made the playoffs.  And only one team has started 0-4 and made it, your 1992 San Diego “Super” Chargers.  Can the G-Men do it?  Can they go from 0-6 to hosting the 49ers on Wildcard Saturday night?  And if they do … uum … is there anyone who’s NOT going to wager on the Giants to win that game?  (For the record, I’d take the Giants, and definitely Dallas, at home against the 49ers to open the postseason.  Redskins, maybe.  Eagles, no way.)

* at Colts (-9 ½) 41, Rams 20.  How in God’s name is this line not in the double digits?  Is there any person who follows this sport, who envisions the Rams in a one score game on Sunday entering the fourth quarter?  This one has boatrace beatdown written all over it.

* Seahawks (-5) 34, at Falcons 13.  To think that ten months ago, this was one of the most epic divisional round games the NFL has ever staged.  But don’t worry, Falcons fans – Tony Gonzalez won’t whine, moan, and petulantly b*tch his way through the reason of the season.  He’d never do that, right Chiefs fans?  He’d never open the postgame presser after the Chiefs win their first game in 345 days by b*tching that he needed one more reception to set some stupid ass record nobody will remember five minutes from now, right?  Oh, he did do that?  My bad.

Circle me as someone thankful we didn’t give up a draft pick for that whiny malcontent, Bert.

* at Ravens (+1) 24, Bengals 20.  I can’t put it any simpler than this, folks.  I never bet against a proven, veteran team, playing at home, with its season on the line.

But as with everything in life, all good things eventually end.  And in the NFL, when a power, successful team’s run ends?  It usually ends in dramatic, “holy sh*t!  Unbelievable!” style.  Some examples:

* 1990s Cowboys.  Another Monday nighter I was at, week fourteen 1997.  Carolina at Dallas.  Dallas was 5-6, Carolina 6-5, both fighting for the final wild card slot (that Detroit got at 9-7).

I will never forget this play as long as I live.  4th and 2 at exactly midfield, 2:32 to play.  Carolina leads 27-23.  Barry Switzer opts to go for it (the right call, by the way).  Offensive coordinator Ernie Zampeze sends in the play: a play action rollout designed to give Troy Aikman a running option if the receiver is bottled up.

Recognize a problem in that play, folks?  “Receiver”.  Zampeze sent exactly ONE receiver beyond the line of scrimmage – tight end Eric Bjornsen. 

The Cowboys line collapsed, since Dom Capers sent the house, with Dallas in a tight formation.  Aikman was nearly decapitated after a loss of 30 on the play, and that was it for the Dallas dynasty.

* 1990s Chiefs.  November 16, 1998.  The Monday Night Meltdown.  donkeys quarterback bubby brister, rolling on a bootleg right, runs it in untouched from forty yards out, to start the scoring.  This disgusts me.  Let’s move on.

* 1990s Bills.  This one is a coin flip.  You can argue (and I would) that it died when Jacksonville running back Natrone “Refried” Means pounded it in late in the fourth quarter, to stun the Bills 27-20 in the wildcard round in 1996.  But the Bills were still formidable, winning eleven games in 1998 and 1999, which means you can argue that “The Music City Miracle” is when their run truly died.  (They haven’t been back to the postseason since that play.)

* 1990s Packers.  This one had to sting, to lose on the final play of what I would argue is the greatest NFL game ever played.  Packers at 49ers, Wildcard Sunday, January 3, 1999. 

Steve Mariucci calls it “Three Jet All Go”, and is possibly still levitated two feet off the ground.  Steve Young to this day can’t stop saying “he was open!  He was open!” in utter disbelief.  Terrell Owens is still crying.  Pat Summerall, if he was still with us – you want to know how amazing of a play this was?

Pat Summerall was EXCITED!  Seriously, give the FOX call embedded below a listen.  Summerall is elated.  John Madden is literally speechless, he’s just spouting off sounds of ecstasy:

But Joe Starkey put it best, in his call below.  “Owens!  Owens!  He caught it!  He caught it!”

Of course, you could argue the 1990s 49ers dynasty ended on that play as well – less than four games later, Garrison Hearst’s career was cut short, Steve Young’s was concussed to a close, and Terrell Owens was insinuating that Jeff Garcia was gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that). 

But man.  Anytime someone asks me why I irrationally love the NFL (and this applies to the NBA, especially), all I have to do is pull a play like this.  Greatness on display.

If the Ravens amazing twelve, thirteen year run is about to end on Sunday (two Lombardi’s, four AFC Title Games, four division titles, ten playoff appearances, and fifteen playoff wins since the conclusion of the 1999 season)?

It’s going to end epically, if tradition holds serve.

Something like this, if you will ...

* at Bears (pick) 24, Lions 21.  The winner of this game is in great shape, to win the NFC Norris.  If Detroit wins, they’ll be sitting at 6-3, owning a sweep of the Bears, with Green Bay coming to town (likely without Aaron Rodgers) on Thanksgiving.  If the Bears win, they’ll be 6-3, earn a split with the Lions, and can sweep the Packers by beating them at Soldier Field to end the regular season.

Here’s to hoping FOX 4 broadcasts this game, to the Kansas City media market, come high noon on Sunday.

* Panthers (+6) 31, at 49ers 28.  I like Cam Newton.  A lot.  The Panthers game here last year was the one I anticipated the most before the season that didn’t involve the denver broncos, although by the time December 2nd rolled around, Chiefs fans were so sufficiently sick of the events of the previous day, to say nothing of the season to that point, that it had no chance to live up to the hopes I had for it.

But here’s Cam’s problem.  He hasn’t won a big-time pressure game in the NFL yet, and he’s in year three as a starter.  Hell, he couldn’t even beat a Chiefs team here last year dealing with unspeakable tragedy the night before a game of no importance or consequence to them.  (Or so they – and we – all thought.  We were very, very wrong, entering that game, in thinking it was a wasted exercise.  Very, very wrong.)

For starters, Mr. Newton has beaten exactly one – one! – team on the road, that sported a winning record at kickoff.  That was in his rookie season, 2011, at the Houston Texans.  That was also the game Matt Schaub separated his shoulder, and was lost for the season for your AFC South champions.

In fact, here’s every road win Mr. Newton has posted, in his career so far:

2011: week twelve, at Colts.  The Colts were 0-10 entering play.
2011: week thirteen, at Bucs.  The Bucs were 4-7 entering play.
2011: week fifteen at Texans.  The Texans were 10-3 entering play.
2012: week nine at Redskins.  The ‘Skins were 3-5 entering play.
2012: week twelve at Eagles.  The Eagles were 3-7 entering play.
2012: week fifteen at Chargers.  The “Super” Chargers were 5-8 entering play.
2012: week seventeen at Saints.  The Saints were 7-8 entering play.
2013: week six at Vikings.  The Purple People Eaters were 1-3 entering play.
2013: week eight at Bucs.  The Bucs were 0-7 entering play.

And that’s it.  The only road game Cam Newton has won against a winning team, required a Pro Bowl quarterback to separate his shoulder, to facilitate a victory.

Mr. Newton has three cracks at beating a winning team on the road still potentially ahead on the schedule: week twelve at Miami (who is 4-4 right now), week fourteen at N’Awlins (who is 6-2 right now), and this week at the 49ers (who are 6-2 entering this game).

This … is a gut-check game for the Panthers, and especially their quarterback.  This is the first time he’s started a game on the road in the second half of the season, where the Panthers were in the chase for a playoff berth (and a division title; they’re only one behind the Saints, and haven’t faced them yet).

I say he breaks through on Sunday.

I’m even willing to wager on it.

* Texans (+2 ½) 34, at Cardinals 20.  I still don’t think the Texans are dead.  2-6 is ugly, but scroll back up to the comments in the Titans pick.  Texans win this one, they’re two back of the six seed, and have the raiders and Jaguars coming to Reliant the next two Sundays, before the Pats roll into town to open December.  They win this one, I can see them at 6-6 entering the stretch run, which granted is brutally tough – at Jaguars (ok, not brutally tough), at Colts, vs broncos, at Titans.

My point being, I can absolutely see Case Keenum and the 8-7 Texans, visiting Jake Locker and the 9-6 Titans, with the AFC six seed (and a damned good chance at victory at New England or your AFC Norris champ) on the line.

I also want to say, a heartfelt “get well soon”, to Texans coach Gary Kubiak.  I haven’t thought much of his coaching acumen in the past, and quite frankly, I despise him for his connection to Satan’s Squad for most of his playing career.  But the last six quarters of football that man coached – four at Arrowhead, two against the Colts – were quite possibly the most brilliant six quarters of football, I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch.  If the week seven game had been at Reliant, the Chiefs would have lost by thirty.  And the Colts were down by nearly thirty entering the half on Sunday night.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love watching greatness on display.  It’s why I shell out $199 for the NBA League Pass every season – because there’s always gonna be that one random “holy sh*t dude, put the Bucks game on!” moment, when BJ is dropping 55 on the Nuggets Warriors.  Or the night Brandon Roy showed the world how amazing a talent he was, and what an incredible blow his knee giving out him became.  Gary Kubiak outcoached two of the best coaches in the League the last two weeks.  He flat out embarrassed "Fat" Andy Reid and Chuck "Strong" Pagano.  Here’s to hoping he returns to the sidelines -- as soon as it’s medically safe, for him to do so.

* We’re coming back to the Chargers / donkeys game, in a little while.  This one, is too damned important – for not just both teams involved, but for the Red and Gold as well – to group in with the uninteresting / unimportant throw-away matchups in this section of the prepared remarks.

* Cowboys (+6 ½) 34, at Saints 28.  At some point, Jason Garrett is going to wake up, realize his defense couldn’t stop a quadrapalegic from running for 130 on 15 carries, and throwing for 440 on 16 of 17 accuracy, and reach the Richard A. Vermeil Memorial “I’m Too Old To Wait” moment, where he realizes his offense, has to win the game single-handedly.

I think he reached that moment, late in Sunday’s victory over Minnesota.

I expect the Cowboys to come out firing Sunday night.  You’ve seen the gameplan they’re going to use – they did it damned near perfectly against denver in week five***.  I think they will do it perfectly, Sunday night, in front of the nation.

(***: that game literally, and I am not joking, that game literally was so gripping, compelling, and amazingly great, that every freaking person in the ICU waiting area at Shawnee Mission Medical Center that afternoon / early evening, eventually stopped going in to check on their loved on in a bad way, to simply watch the game unfold.  Even my mom stopped going to check on dad’s latest update.  And my mom is NOT a big football fan.  Basketball, she’ll watch all day long.  We’re already so geeked for KU / Duke this week**, that we cannot wait for Tuesday to get here.  But football?  Not her glass of brandy, so to speak.  Yet even she couldn’t turn away, from how epic that game was.)

(**: the answer to the elephant in the room is not only “hell no” … if anything, “diplomatic relations” have never been worse.)

* Dolphins (+1) 45, at Bucs 0.  ESPN should sue the NFL schedule makers, for this.  Seriously, was there ANY person with a mental IQ above room temperature in Nome, Alaska right now, who thought Dolphins at Bucs in WEEK TEN would have ANY sort of consequence for the postseason picture?  My God, this is pathetic.  It’s also your Good Times Game O’ The Week!!!

The “Klassy” Kevin Keitzman Tweet O’ The Week:

This week isn’t focusing on Ol’ Kev’s Twitter account.  It’s instead focused on Monday’s epic opening monologue, that Greg Hall so deliciously lays out, albeit in a way I’m not going to.

It is a very, very, very rare moment on this site, where I agree with "K"KK on anything.  Hell, I didn’t even support the event that put him on the map, the walkout against the Yankees in 1999, because I didn’t think it would do an ounce of good.

But man, Mr. Keitzman has rarely, if ever, been as dead on accurate, as he was in responding and reacting to the Dolphins’ situation with Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, and bullying.

As usual, I am a rarity in life.  I was in the one to two percent of kids growing up – and really, this is still true for me, if I’m being honest – who was never in the upper class “cool kids” crowd … and was never in the group that gets bullied, that gets picked on, that gets taunted and disrespected, and treated with outright hatred, bigotry, and discrimination, just because.

I was in that “middle class”, where the “cool folks” respected me enough to tolerate me, and the “uncool folks” knew I’d never do to them, what some people would.

In case you doubt me, look at who (until recent developments have sadly and regrettably changed this) were my two best friends in life, of a non-female variety.

“The Voice of Reason”, and “The Champ”.

If you’re reading this and know the three of us?  You’d agree.  There could not be more polar opposites, in damned near every way, than Gregg and Dusty.  And neither was anywhere close, to me in the center of the spectrum, so to speak.

Most people who know me and Mr. Reason quite well, are quite stunned we’ve been as great of friends as we have been, for the last few decades.  They look at the contradictions, and in the words of Brian Griffin, think “what the hell”?

I’m a Clinton Democrat; Gregg is as die-hard a conservative Republican as you’ll ever meet.  I love the NBA; he prefers the collegiate game.  I think having two teams you love and support in the same league is perfectly acceptable; he thinks it’s blasphemy.  He’s financially successful; I’m not.  He can control his ugly addictions in life; I can’t.  He's happily married with two kids; I have no desire for either.

And yet, it works.

The same with Mr. Champ.  I think morality and ethics determine absolute right and wrong; he thinks feelings and emotions do.  I think you have to own your failure(s) and accept the consequences of said failure(s); he thinks the past doesn’t matter, because since you can’t change it, why deal with it.  I can’t control my ugly addictions in life; he has in spectacular fashion.  I’m a Clinton Democrat that despises how far left Mr. Obama has taken the party; Dusty thinks Mr. Obama is the greatest thing to ever happen to this country.

And yet, current issue(s) notwithstanding, it works.  

Mr. Reason would never be confused with the “cool kids” growing up.  Mr. Champ would never be confused with the “outcasts” growing up. 

And yet, it works.

Because Mr. Reason, Mr. Champ, and myself, all share one common theme, one common belief, one unifying feature.

Which is why we work.  (Pause).  Wait, let me rephrase that – we work, because we need money to survive from day to day.  What I mean to say was, we share one common theme, one common belief, one unifying feature, that explains why our relationships with each other, work.  Yeah, that’s better.  And that undeniable fact, is this:

We will not tolerate true hateful, hurtful, disgusting and indefensible discrimination, bigotry, and bias, against anyone, for any reason.

And all three of us will call you on it, if you dare cross that line, between “playful teasing”, and “outright hatred”.

I don’t give a damn if Richie Incognito was asked by the Dolphins GM to taunt Mr. Martin into “toughening up”.  I quite frankly don’t give a damn if Mr. Martin needed to be “toughened up”.

I DO give a damn, over the fact that someone was picked on, was demeaned, disgraced, defamed, and intentionally hurt, because some jackwagon thought, it was the right thing to do.

It’s why I not just loved Mr. Keitzman expressing his disgust at being taunted, bullied, and humiliated by people throughout his career … and not only loved the fact he exposed the pathetic pieces of sh*t for who they are, for doing it to him …

… I loved that he’s p*ssed about it.

Greg Hall doesn’t get it.  He should, God love him.  But he doesn’t.

Mr. Hall is right, in that we will never live in Utopia.  We will never live in a society that Dr. King dreamed of, in which who you are as a person, determines your value and worth in life.  That’s impossible to ever attain, especially in this age where every little thing you do, can pop up on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, or (insert social media site here).

But Mr. Keitzman is right, to fight for that Utopia.  To stand against people who make even the hopes of that Utopia, possible.

And Mr. Reason and Mr. Champ, as well as myself, are beyond right, to demand that Utopia, be shown to us, and the people we care about, at all times.

Respect shouldn’t have to be earned.

To quote my high school geometry (then algebra) teacher, the lovely Ms. (not Brett) Summers – respect, and equality for all?

Should be “a given”.

How sad, pathetic, and damning of us as a society, that it isn’t.

(Thus ends the social commentary for this post.)

“The Voice of Reason”’s Reason:

To be posted when received.  For the record, he took the Vikings +1 yesterday, via text message, an hour before kickoff.

“The Poem”:

No poem this week due to no Chiefs home game.

“The Tailgating Plans”:

No tailgating plans this week, due to no Chiefs home game … although my second parents are headed up to South Dakota, to spend the weekend with our raider loving friends from Sioux Falls.

I wish them a happy trip up, and a safe trip home.

You can never be too cautious, when it comes to the raiders being involved, in a situation.

“The Flashback”:

No flashback this week due to the bye week. 

The Jets Prediction:

No prediction this week due to the bye week.  Having said that, here’s my second half prediction, game by game, for Gang Green:

* Week Eleven: at Bills 34, Jets 31 (OT).  Jets record: 5-5.
* Week Twelve: at Ravens 31, Jets 21.  Jets record: 5-6.
* Week Thirteen: at Jets 20, Dolphins 6.  Jets record: 6-6.
* Week Fourteen: at Jets 42, raiders 13.  Jets record: 7-6.
* Week Fifteen: at Panthers 24, Jets 22.  Jets record: 7-7.
* Week Sixteen: at Jets 23, Browns 13.  Jets record: 8-7.
* Week Seventeen: Jets 28, at Dolphins 17.  Jets record: 9-7.

Season finish: 9-7, 2nd (AFC East), in the cluster(buck) to earn an “uno mas!” third battle, against the Patriots this season.

If the (fireman ed voice) J!  E!  T!  S!  Jets Jets Jets! miss the playoffs?

“The Ralph” will be the reason why.

The Single Biggest Non-Jets, Non-Chiefs Game, That Potentially Affects BOTH Teams Postseason Fate, To Be Played In This Two Thousand Thirteen Season So Far:

donkeys at Chargers.

This was the game last year, that launched the “my little ponies” season.  The huge second half comeback in week six, that thirteen weeks later, finally saw another L hit the proverbial debit side, of the accounting ledger. 

This is also the game last year, that finally was the beginning of the end, of the Norval Eugene Turner error, in San Diego, and led to a house-cleaning long overdue for the “Super” Chargers.

You can make a serious, credible, completely believable argument, that AJ Smith is THE unluckiest GM, in NFL history.  The late, great, “it’s criminate / grouse / Zues in nature!” that he’s not in the Hall of Fame, the late, great John Butler (who built the Buffalo teams of the 1990s), left AJ with a stacked cupboard, so to speak … but here’s what happened under his watch:

* 2004: forced to trade Eli Manning to the Giants, for Philip Rivers.  And not just for Mr. Rivers – he acquires Nate Kaeding, and Shawne Merriman, as well.  If you have to start your career being held hostage by (arguably) the most arrogant, selfish, pathetic family in America (which the manning’s are)?  You can do worse than that.

The Chargers won the AFC West at 12-4 that season.  They lost in the playoffs in the Wildcard Round, to Mr. Chadwick Pennington and the Jets, 23-20, in overtime.

* 2005: the Chargers enter the finale, hosting denver, at 9-6, still alive for a playoff berth.  By the time the game has reached halftime, denver has clinched the AFC West, Drew Brees has taken his last snap as a Charger (he left hurt), and the Philip Rivers era has begun, as Mr. Smith opts to let Mr. Brees leave in free agency.  Chargers finish 9-7, miss the postseason.

* 2006: the Chargers go 14-2, post the League’s best record, win the AFC West by five games … and lose 17-14 to the Patriots, in the divisional round.  It is arguably head coach Marty Schottenheimer’s toughest defeat ever.  It is undeniably his final one, as a NFL head coach.  AJ Smith fires Marty, after the defeat, to be replaced …

… by Norval Eugene Turner.

* 2007: the Chargers go 11-5, win the AFC West, and reach the AFC Championship Game, beating the Titans, and the Colts, to get there, before the 17-0 Patriots beat them in Foxboro … in a game where LaDainian Tomlinson**, barely plays.

(**: Mr. Tomlinson’s freshman season at TCU, was my senior year there.  You would have had to lived Horned Frog Football, as “Tony Gonzalez”, “Cocoa The Monkey”, and myself did, in 1997, to understand how utterly out of nowhere, the “holy f*cking sh*t!” season that was 1998, was.)

* 2008: the Chargers reach rock bottom at 4-8 after losing three straight games by single digit margins – a “what the (buck)?” 11-10 loss at Pittsburgh, a “how did this happen – we had SIX INTERCEPTIONS!” defeat in overtime to the Colts at The Q, and a pathetic surrender to the Falcons 22-16 at The Q.

They head to KC at 5-8 after beating the raiders. 

They trail 21-15, with barely a minute to play.

Onside kick.  Victory.

They win out, take the AFC West title by pole-axing denver in the finale (Shanarat’s final game as the donkeys head coach).  They upset the Colts on my (gulp) 32nd birthday, before losing to the eventual champion Steelers in the Divisional Round.

* 2009: possibly THE biggest heartbreak.  I know, I know, Chiefs fans – we are all STUNNED, that a 13-3 team with home field advantage, craps out to a 9-7 also ran just (dan dierdorf voice) happy to be here.  We have NEVER seen that happen, right?

The Chargers actually stood at 2-3, after Ed Hochuli’s botched fumble call at denver in week six. 

They didn’t lose another regular season game, after that tough defeat, to denver.

(Bear with me folks – I’m going somewhere with this, I swear!)

They won eleven straight to end the season … then crapped out in the Divisional Round, at home, to a far inferior opponent, that won on absolutely bullsh*t and pure luck, out of the quarterback.  (In this case, that would be Mr. Sanchez, the Jets QB, and Shonn Greene, the Jets RB, who took the handoff to the house, to seal a 17-14 stunner.)

THAT?  The 4th and 1 that Shonn Greene converted with less than two to play?

Killed the Chargers.

They haven’t made the playoffs since, finally culminating with Norval Eugene and AJ Smith’s terminations, this past offseason.

Now?  On Sunday?  They face a team that won eleven straight because of a victory last year, that the denver broncos were the other party to, that directly caused the final downfall of the AJ Smith / Norval Eugene Turner error ... I mean, era.

If the broncos win?  They enter next week's Sunday night showdown a game behind the Chiefs, in full control of their own destiny, for the division and the conference, in terms of the playoffs.

But if the Chargers win?  The Chiefs can all but clinch the division next Sunday night.  They can knock denver three back with six to play, and the donkeys would still have roadies to KC, New England, Houston, and the black hole remaining (plus a short week Thursday nighter at home against San Diego).

Chiefs fans?  We have NEVER wanted a San Diego "Super" Chargers victory more, than we do Sunday afternoon.

Call me a dreamer, say I'm a little naive ... but I believe, in the underdog.

(More specifically, I do NOT believe in Jack "Of The River", whatsoever.)

* at Chargers (+7 1/2) 35, donkeys 27.

The Chiefs Section Of This Post:

My midseason Chiefs thoughts will be posted separately, by Tuesday evening.  I was going to place them here, but felt they deserved their own separate piece.  Until then, enjoy the games everyone!

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