Were the Kansas City Chiefs looking ahead to tonight’s game when they met the Los Angeles Chargers last week at SoFi Stadium?
One couldn’t blame them, after all they were playing a Chargers team that they have handled in recent years like a father shooting hoops in the front yard with his seven-year-old son. Perhaps that is why Kansas City trailed most of the way in Los Angeles last Sunday before pulling out a hard fought win over the Chargers in overtime, 23-20.
Last week, the Chiefs made an untested and pressed into duty rookie quarterback, Justin Herbert, look like Joe Montana through most of the game. Were they simply distracted and almost bothered that they had to punch a win in Southern California before heading to tonight’s venue in Baltimore where arguably the best two teams in the National Football League will collide? Monday Night Football serves up the main event this weekend when Kansas City visits the Ravens in Baltimore.
One can pin the excuse of looking ahead on the Chiefs off-day last week, but then also acknowledge the Kansas City character to win the game even though they did not play their best football. In Los Angeles, against the Chargers, the Chiefs were favored by eight points. Tonight, in Baltimore, they are getting 3½ points on the line. Don’t you know that tonight the Ravens will have the Super Bowl Champions full attention?
And what does that mean in 2020?
Not what you might imagine. While the Chiefs have the brightest shining star running their offense on the field, quarterback Patrick Mahomes, their defense is not the stuff that fathers will be telling their kids about in years to come. Not like the bedtime stories I told my kids about that focus on the Dallas Cowboys Doomsday or the Pittsburgh Steelers Iron Curtain of the 1970’s. The Chiefs are nowhere near the efficiency and intimidation that the 1985 Chicago Bears asserted in winning Super Bowl XX, or the champions of the 2000 season when the Baltimore Ravens triumph was nearly totally attributed to their take no prisoners stop unit.
Blurred by Mahomes greatness, one can almost forget that the Chiefs moved up in the seeding and got a first round bye last season by virtue of the New England Patriots being upset at home on the final day of the regular season by the 17-point underdog Miami Dolphins.
Then, once in the playoffs, the Chiefs required double-digit come-from-behind games to win all three of their postseason games enroute to the Super Bowl LIV title.
This year, their season opening win was gained in a spot where only one team has lost since the NFL initiated the defending champs opening the next season at home in a Thursday night primetime game in 2004. They beat the Houston Texans, but Houston is still looking for their first win of the season after following that opening loss at Arrowhead Stadium with setbacks to the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Perhaps the narrow victory over the Chargers, a team that lost at home yesterday to the previously winless Carolina Panthers, is a sign that this year’s Chiefs team is not as good as many people think, and that last season wasn’t as dominating as most people recall.
And then you have the Ravens. The team that was the best team in the American Football Conference during the regular season last year as evidenced by them earning the number one seed in the playoffs. Their opening postseason loss last season to the Tennessee Titans was a textbook motivational spot, and they succumbed to the challenge.
Tonight is textbook too, and it says that the better team, at home, fully motivated is going to run roughshod over the road Chiefs.
Qoxhi Picks: Baltimore Ravens (-3½) over Kansas City Chiefs