Let me introduce you to
The characters in the show.
One says yes, one says no.
Which voice in your head
You can keep alive!
Even in madness?
I know you still believe!
Paint me on canvas, so I become?
What you could never be!
I dare you to tell me to walk through fire!
Wear my soul and call me a liar!
I dare you to tell me to walk through fire!
I dare you to tell me;
I dare you to! ..."
-- "I Dare You" by Shinedown. (Pause). Just listen to the link. You'll be properly prepared for Saturday, if you do ...
I posted the recap of the trip to Houston last night. You can read it by clicking here, if you are so inclined.
I noted in that recap that there were at least two stories I left on the cutting room floor. (Hey, you type up 22 pages in Word and try to edit yourself. It ain't as easy as you would think it would be ...)
Here's those two stories, as well as my thoughts regarding Saturday.
So, Saturday after the game, we all headed back to the room I was staying in, consumed a good chunk of the eleven bottles of champagne, and decided to head out and find a sports bar somewhere to watch the Steelers / Bengals game.
Since I have no clue where anything in Houston other than Willie G's and NRG Park are, we asked our front desk dude what he would recommend. He suggested we try the Buffalo Wild Wings about ten minutes away, up by Rice University. That seemed like a reasonable proposition -- I mean, what goes better with football than wings and beer?
So we arrive, and find one of the last parking spots available, and head in. Where we are met by some chick running the seating chart, who informs us it will be an hour wait before we can be seated. I take a quick look around the non-bar area, and notice immediately that there are at least 10 empty tables. I also quickly notice that the only people who seem to have to wait to be seated, are wearing Red and Gold.
Following these observations, I decide to take this chick on.
(stevo) what the hell do you mean, an hour wait? Why can't we sit there (pointing to empty tables)?
(chick) well, we are short staffed tonight.
(stevo) short staffed? On a Saturday night? During a playoffs weekend when the home team is playing?
(chick) sir, you're just going to have to wait.
(stevo) No, you're going to have to seat us.
This went on for a couple minutes, before finally, Mona took things into her own hands.
She headed to the bar area, saw a table that would easily sit six (since there were six of us there), and decided that's where we'd watch the game.
The waitress chick was p*ssed. Especially when every other Chiefs fan on the "waiting list" did the same thing, and converged on the bar.
The funniest part? They really were ridiculously short staffed. So short staffed ... that b*tchy chick at the seating chart desk, was waiting tables when we left.
And speaking of leaving ...
We checked out of the hotel and departed for the Metroplex about 10am on Sunday.
It took about ten minutes to begin navigating our way to I-45 for the drive back. And on a map, it's an easy trip: 610 East to 288 North to 45 North, then zip across (pick one) the Jim Wright, the Landry, or Airport Freeway, to get back to John O's in Saginaw. And for those ten minutes, everything went according to plan.
Then bam! As soon as you hit I-10 just north of downtown, I-45 was at a complete standstill. At 10:15 on a Sunday morning, all six lanes of traffic are parked. Every on-ramp from 10 and 288 was at a halt as well. So Russ made the decision to cut across four lanes of traffic, hop onto I-10 West, and then we'd catch 610 North and hopefully avoid the backup.
Only, the off-ramp to 610 North was closed. So we had to come up with a new way to get back to the Metroplex.
Cue the weekend's MVP, Google Maps.
Using that app, I managed to manuever us from the western suburbs of Houston, to beautiful (and I use that term as loosely and liberally as possible), beautiful Waco, Texas, in a little under three hours. Did we violate Texas Department of Transportation laws by failing to pay the toll when we headed north on 99? Absolutely. Did we violate many, many speed limits in an effort to get the hell out of A&M Land as fast as humanly possible? (sarah palin voice) You betcha! Did we purchase Powerball tickets so that if we won, we'd have to go back to the warmth and sun of the Lone Star State? Hell yes we did.
Also, when we stopped for gas just outside of College Station, the gas station had a gigantic sale going on their remaining bottles of wine. We got two bottles of 14 Hands red, a bottle of Cupcake, and a bottle of reisling for barely $18.00. To put that bargain into perspective for those of you who don't enjoy a good glass of wine: the bottle of Cupcake by itself usually retails for between $15-$18 here in KC. And as someone who'd probably marry the 14 Hands merlot if, you know, marriage equality for liquor bottles was legal, I can tell you, that stuff ain't cheap either.
The Watch Party Plans:
We'll be at Russ and Mona's. The game will be on both upstairs (for those who prefer a more secluded viewing) as well as downstairs (for those who like to mix in a lil' pool and/or darts with their football). There will be plenty of beer and wine and champagne available; I'd also wager there will be a decent amount of whiskey and vodka as well.
The menu is Patriot Melts and Brady Brats. (Which I'm guessing means the grill got moved from the West Wing onto the back patio ... because it's gonna be too freaking cold outside to have to walk that far to grill said Brady Brats.)
As always, anyone and everyone is more than welcome to join us *. Pretty much all of my tailgating group will be there, save for the Springfield folks.
If you need a place to watch the game, you now have one.
(*: unless you are cheering for satan's squad. I am done with anyone who roots for those people. You show up in those people's colors, your ass is getting shown the door. And there's a decent chance said ass is going to have my footprints all over it, as it is being shown said door.)
The Chiefs Thoughts:
As a wise man once noted: "to be the best? (Woo!) You gotta beat the best!"
Saturday, at 3:30pm CT, the Kansas City Chiefs get their crack at the best.
To me, this game comes down to six key questions.
1. The health of "Puff Puff Pass Rush". Both Justin Houston and Tamba Hali are playing hurt (and in Mr. Houston's case, it's obvious). The Chiefs have to get after Thomas Brady early, and they have to keep pounding him all game long. I am very confident that the interior trio of Jaye Howard, Allen Bailey, and Dontari Poe will collapse the pocket -- just like they did last week. The key will be, can Houston and Hali (and Dee Ford) finish the job the line starts? They did last week, pounding Brian Hoyer all afternoon long, forcing him into six turnovers by the time the day was done.
Thomas Brady is not going to commit six turnovers on Saturday. Brian Hoyer, he is not. But the Chiefs pounded him early and often in last year's matchup, and by the second half, the mistakes started occurring, culminating with Husain Abdullah's Pick Six. The Chiefs have to replicate last year's defensive performance against the Patriots, and replicate last week's defensive performance against the Texans, to win this game.
2. The emotional maturity of Travis Kelce. Look it, I love the dude. But he has made some dumb, bone-headed mistakes over the last couple years, one of which (at Cardinals last season) not only cost the Chiefs the game, it cost them a playoff berth. (He also all but eliminated all hope of a comeback against those people last year, and was worse than God awful in Cincinnati earlier this season.)
Travis Kelce needs to play mistake-free football on Saturday. Especially since he'll be the primary target of Alex Smith's passes for most of the afternoon.
3. The weather. The forecast calls for a 100% chance of rain, with a high barely reaching 40 (and plunging fast once the sun goes down) on Saturday in Foxboro. Remember how I have said many, many times before that "there is no such thing as coincidence"? The Chiefs have played two games in this exact type of conditions in the last six weeks -- and won them both (Bills, Chargers). The sloppier the weather, the better it favors the Chiefs. They've not only practiced for craptacular conditions like this? They've played games that count in them. This could be the little thing that puts the Chiefs over the top.
4. The run / pass ratio. The good folks at Arrowhead Pride harp on this weekly in their feature where they grade "Fat" Andy's performance. Anything worse than a 60/40 pass / run mix gets a F, no questions asked. Last week, the ratio flipped -- the Chiefs ran the ball 56% of the time (usually the figure winds up in the 55/45 pass/run range). If the Chiefs are able to flip the ratio again on Saturday? They will win this game. And they will win it convincingly.
5. The offensive line. The single biggest key to flipping the ratio. If the line plays like it did in Houston last week, the Chiefs should win. They were opening up solid holes in a damned good Texans front wall last week, and Alex Smith wasn't under constant duress and pressure. In addition, and I harped on this in the recap on Thursday, Eric Fisher looks like he's finally arrived. He had a nasty streak to him last week. I thought the cheap shot to knock JJ Watt out of the game was brilliant. That's what I want in an offensive lineman, especially one protecting Sir Alex's blindside -- a willingness to throw down if needed. That nasty attitude needs to show up again on Saturday.
6. The kicking game.
If it is indeed a 100% rain game Saturday, Cairo Santos (affectionately known on this site, and in Section 132, rows 25 and 26, as “Pedro”!) has to come through.
He’s rarely if ever been challenged by what he will face Saturday.
I guess I’m in the minority … in thinking he’s more than up to facing it.
The Chiefs Prognostication:
I want to flash back to the GameDay recap to essentially open the 2013 season, after the Chiefs beat the Cowboys 17-16:
It rings as true today, as it did then.
If not even truer.
"Even in madness?
I know you still believe!
Paint me on canvas,
So I become?
What you can never be!"
I believe in this team. I believe in this team. Once more -- I believe in this team.
* Chiefs (+5) 27, at Patriots 20. Score picked via the Bill Maas "If We Show Up With Our Helmets On, We Win" game in 1991 credentials.
I believe in this team.
I dare you to defy me ...